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on 9 January 2011
Any tortured artist type who flops about never finishing anything for fear it might actually expose in concrete terms the limitations of their talent will find this a slap in the face, a kick in the ass and a cold shower all at once. Your list of great excuses for why your novel/screenplay/business start up/big-project-of-any-kind remains unfinished (or unstarted) will dwindle to one line with a question mark at the end of it. Do you have what it takes or not?

And there's only one way to find out.

The War of Art might be the last diversion you take into doing something that you shouldn't be doing. After you've read it you might actually end up doing what you should be. Or you could put everything off just a little longer by writing a review of it for Amazon.

Hmmm.....
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on 22 October 2004
This book is superb. Everyone who has ever tried to improve their lives or start a new venture will know that the main problem is not the money or the time; it's the motivation. Deep in our psychology we have a hidden enemy, a devious little voice that tells us not to start or attempt anything because we'll automatically fail or we've got better things to do. This little creep is usually the reason diets fail or books don't get written. Until I read War of Art I just thought I was a procastinator or at best just lazy. But Pressfield has given this enemy a name: Resistance.
Pressfield's book is without a doubt the most intriguing and genuine motivational book out there to date. It's written in plain tongue with no technical rubbish or pen-in-hand techniques that nobody would want to even try. It's staright talk; we've got an enemy, fight it! I couldn't put it down. Read it in a day. By the end of it I felt I could achieve anything and like some weirdo bible thing I have tuned to it since whenever I feel like I want to do something because most of the time I know I won't do what I want without a good push. Steven Pressfield's War of Art is that push. It's the compass that guides you toward success.
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on 7 August 2011
The War of Art (nice title) is based on the premise that there is something called `resistance', which prevents artists or anyone doing anything to better themselves from getting on with the task. Resistance manifests itself in lots of different ways, but ultimately in work not getting done. Split into three parts, each comprised of several pages which are often nothing more than a pithy paragraph, The War of Art isn't heavy reading. The first part of the book identifies the problem; the second part of the book identifies the qualities of the professional who does not succumb to the problem. These parts are witty, concise, and quite inspirational. In common with some other reviewers here, I was expecting far more practical advice about how to overcome `resistance'. What War of Art effectively boils down to is an impassioned call to arms from a hotheaded military leader against a ruthless and bloodthirsty enemy. That's well and good, "but what about the tactics?" says the poor grunt about to charge the enemy guns. "Well, there aren't any. Good luck, give `em hell..."

If parts one and two are good as far as they go, the third part of the book jumps off a very high pier. It's largely concerned with the author's loopy religious and philosophical ideas, which, if you didn't know better, would place him somewhere around the early 20th Century, before Freud's ideas found common currency, before World War I made people rethink the idea of progress. Back then, the best explanation for irrational drives in our lives was probably something like bad demons and good angels, which is what the author of The War of Art has settled on as the most likely explanation. To be fair to Pressfield, he does say you can call it what you like; I called it `wishful thinking'. Of course the author is entitled to his beliefs, but since the book begins with a no-nonsense call to arms against irrational beliefs about the artist, you might, like me, look back from page 166 and find yourself a long way from home.
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on 28 January 2014
I've got several problems with this book. I really struggle to see why it's got so many 5 star ratings.

I'll go ahead and say that there *is* some good advice in here, mainly relating to just kicking yourself in the a*se and getting the work done. It's just so sad that it's veiled with woo-woo rubbish.

It's short, I read it in a couple of hours. I think that's probably a blessing in disguise, 'cos I really wouldn't want to waste much time on this drivel.

Here are my main bones of contention:

- 'Resistance' (the author's affected term for procrastination) causes cancer and mental illnesses. Resisting your calling, and following a different path, will result in your death. Basically.
- If Hitler hadn't diverged from his path as an artist ('cos of that old Resistance malarkey), there wouldn't have been a tyrannical war resulting in hundreds-of-thousands of deaths. He probably also got cancer.
- If you DO get cancer, then you need to take a long, hard look at your life, and follow your calling. The cancer will probably just disappear if you do that.
- Drugs, drink problems, social issues, all down to that pesky resistance.
- When you DO overcome procra.. RESISTANCE, people around you will become sick. Yep. (I'm not sure if they get cancer, the author didn't specify).
- About 30% of the book is dedicated to woo-woo cr*p about Muses & Angels.
- All your critics are just envious. All of them. And they probably have cancer.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is completely made up by marketing companies. See also: seasonal affective disorder and social anxiety disorder.

The author of this book doesn't seem to have taken into account the different lives that people have. For some, it's INCREDIBLY difficult to 'follow their calling', and to suggest that if they don't they'll get cancer? Hum. He seems to have spewed out a bunch of knee-jerk opinions and bundled them into a self-help book for artists.

Like I said at the start, there are some nuggets of value in the book, but no more than in other books of the same ilk (I heartily suggest It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden).

Read with caution, and remember that there's more than one way to reach your end goal.
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on 21 February 2013
Some one recommended this book, but I could hardly get through it.

The first thing that put me off was his reference to Hitler. He claims Hitler found it harder to fill a white canvas than start WWII. If the writer had done his homework, he would have known that Hitler painted two to three little watercolor paintings every day. These were to accompany picture frames that were sold in shops. He worked his ass off as a painter! He definitely didn't suffer from the "resistance" this book talks about.

The writer apparently didn't bother to fact-check. Note that this is supposed to be non-fiction. And it went down-hill from there.

The premise of this book seems to be that there is such a thing as "resistance" that artists need to overcome. It is written as a pep-talk a coach would give you, or your army drill instructor. It is all written as if art creation is like going to war. Later on he's all on about "amateurs do this, pros do that".

I (strongly!) believe that is not the right approach to art creation. The artist should first and foremost make sure he enjoys the process of art creation. All else follows from it. Resistance is non-existent as the artist cannot wait to jump out of bed every morning to continue work on his art. Beautiful things get made, and maybe, just maybe, commercial success is also around the corner.

I believe this book has it all wrong.
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on 1 July 2013
The whole book can be summed up in one sentence: "focus on your goals and you'll achieve more", the same basic message conveyed by every self-help book under the sun. The only difference is Pressfield felt the need to write another 'The Secret' and layer on tons of spiritual and superstitious babble that suggests something profound whilst really just disguising a trite and, frankly, quite brief book.
The worst part comes when Pressfield attempts to clumsily integrate dated psychology. Statements like "angels make their home in the Self, while Resistance has its seat in the Ego" become commonplace and from that point on, the book is unreadable.
I'm sure Steven's fiction is quite good, but this was just awful.
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on 29 October 2014
I came across this book having seen Steven's interview with Marie Forleo on her YouTube channel. Chances are that you already have a good idea about what this book is about so I won't repeat what others have written at length.

As an arch procrastinator with an embarrassingly short attention span I found the unusual structure of this book very helpful. The chapters, for want of a better word, are very short, often just a page or two and sometimes just a paragraph. However, they feel beautifully crafted with each one putting forward its meaning both concisely and powerfully (although I do find the term "Resistance" a little broad and have found substituting the word "Familiarity" helpful).

I find myself re-reading War of Art and Turning Pro quite frequently and have been through both books several times now. Each time through I seem to notice something new in the relatively few words, or maybe they are just sinking in a little more. Either way, deep down we probably already know what is being written about but it somehow helps to see it before our eyes. I find that I can pick up either book, pick a page at random and find something immediately relevant to put in the 'here and now' which is so helpful.

It feels that Steven has put a lot of himself into this book in quite an authentic and revealing way. I think anyone who has, or who is contemplating putting anything creative 'out there' will recognise the bravery in that.

Incidentally, I ordered War of Art and Turning Pro from Amazon at the same time and Turning Pro happened to turn up first, so I read it before War of Art. I'm glad I did. Although Turning Pro was written later and expands on Part 2 of War of Art, it feels more like a prequel.

I think they are both excellent books.
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Are you creative, yet are facing writer's block? Read this book and it'll shake your block loose and help set you free!
In this slim volume Stephen Pressfield discusses the inner naysayer we all have within us, also referred to as an inner critic by most writers.This book helps you identify and defeat the negative self talk any creative person must deal with. It does so in a serious tone, sprinkled with lots of humor. For example, the heading of one of his essays is "How To Be Miserable" - it was an essay that had me chuckling. It also had me nodding my head as I recognized myself in what he wrote.

Written using a variety of short essays, this book is easy to pick up and read at any point. I read it from the first page to the last, in order. You don't necessarily need to do that to benefit from Stephen Pressfield's wisdom about the inner struggle creative people face from day to day. Read from beginning to end does have it's advantages though -- the author takes aim at resistance, procrastination, rationalization, and finally at the end winning the war. When we win the war of art we are free to create, free to be truly happy.

This is one of the best books I've read on the subject. It helped me identify my own foibles then smash the blocks holding me back. I saw myself in each page and triumphed along with the author. This is an excellent book for any creative person. I highly recommend it.
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on 1 February 2014
4/5, it lost one star for the following:

-the writer only considers his own life and interpretation, sometimes other celebrities, but mainly his own and does not look at the situations that arise in other peoples lives and why they might act in certain ways.

-the book is too short, 160 pages of which many are 1 paragraph pages and blank on the next side, if condensed, would probably be less than a 100 pages.

-says some silly things like all critics who give a negative review are jealous and those who get cancer get it because there body is telling them to be there full potential, it the cancer goes once they start living happily.

the good points from the book:
-does what it says, a kick in the ass, more of a summary that you should read every so often to remind yourself where you might be slipping.
-book 1 of the 3 mini books inside is the strongest of all 3, very informative and shows you how you fall under the resistance

So overall, it is a great bit of work and when I put it down I really did enjoy it and it definitely does what it says, I just feel it could of cut down on some of the nonsense spoken and more of a description of what the writer was trying to say, instead of 1 paragraph chapters.

P.S, Many complained about the third book in which he talks about Angels and Muses, I actually think it was nicely written and related well to his own way of thinking although it was definitely the strangest part of the book but was a good interpretation on life.
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on 19 March 2012
If you have dreams you would love to make a reality but you're no closer to them than you were last year, you are not alone. If you find yourself choosing that chocolate bar over 20 minutes of cardio training, you are standing with the many. If you feel that work, loved ones, hated ones, money troubles, are all getting in the way of where you want to be, welcome to the world of the average person. This book is for you. This book is what you need to hear, and what you need to use to take you from the average to the dream accomplished successful.

What it doesn't do: It doesn't clog you down with self help strategies that you will never stick to. It doesn't pin your hopes on wishful thinking, or lead you to believe that just BELIEVING in something hard enough, the laws of the universe will pull together to make it so. It doesn't suck up to you and tell you what you need to hear.

It tells you the truth. It tells you that, ultimately, success and failure is within you, and that the battle is against yourself. There is an enemy within: a cold, heartless thing with the hunting instincts of a shark. It will eat you from the inside out, and then cast you aside, once you've wasted your life on instant gratification and long standing excuses.

This book identifies that enemy and gives it a name. It then breaks the enemy down so that you can identify its every form. It shows you all the angles of attack it may throw against you. What you do with that knowledge is then up to you. You have to fight this enemy. No one can do it for you.

A brilliant book. I've never read anything quite like it. I don't think it's a coincidence that one of my favorite works of fiction, The Gates of Fire, is by the same author either. The War of Art is for the modern day warrior, who has his own Thermopylae to face...
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