The War of Art {Book Review}

People told me that I’d love this book. What they didn’t tell me is that I would hate it as well. 

Imagine minding your own business, walking to the nearest Starbucks, and being beat up by a bored group of karate students from the local dojo. That’s kind of what reading the first few chapters of this book feels like. But it doesn’t get any better. If anything, the beating gets worse as Steven Pressfield writes on.

The problem is that Steven knows what he’s talking about. Knows the evils that face the writer/artist/creative type who aspires to create but gets caught up in the day to day like a novice swimmer in a riptide. Only there’s no David Hasselhoff running into the water with his red guard floaties or gang of lifeguards waiting to save you. The only way for a creative person to save themselves is to actually sit down and create.

I wanted to mark up this book but as I was borrowing it from a friend, I thought against it. There are many gems to be found in the short chapters. The concept of Resistance was shattering for me. Of course! My enemy had a name. It had a vendetta. And reading the book made me want to declare war on it.

“Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genious, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.” – Book 1, The War of Art

Pressfield writes that for many religious writers, they view resistance as evil. They must fight against evil and not doing their destiny is a sin. I would kind of agree with that but not with the same amount of vehemence that Pressfield asserts. As a Christian, my art is how I express the inner wonderings of my soul. When I don’t write, I feel clogged up, like there’s years of buildup that just need to be taken down with a chainsaw or a wire scrub brush.

So many writer friends swear by this book and I can see why. While I’m not a fan of praying to the muses (Really? Does he really do that?), I understand praying before writing. That’s someone my Irish mentor taught me years ago. For Christian writers, writing is an act of worship, an act of fully being and giving back that which you were created to do. So while I’ll take most of Pressfield’s advice, I don’t think I’ll be taking that part to heart.

While I’m recovering from the beating that Pressfield gave me, I’m going to pick up the pen and write. It’s a glorious thing, declaring war on resistance. To create and pen universes into being. I just might get a copy of this for my bookshelf.

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