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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Book Review: The War of Art

An old friend recommended The War of Art on Facebook. Our library had it, so I checked it out ... and barely could put it down.

In this book, Steven Pressfield describes the challenges people face whenever they begin a creative endeavor. Drawing from his own experience as an author and extrapolating it into other artistic fields, Pressfield aptly names the Resistance artists face.

The Resistance takes many forms - procrastination, perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of success, distraction, self-talk - but it always conspires to keep us from our genius, the inner calling of our soul and the seat of our happiness. If, for instance, you have some inner calling to write a book, the Resistance will throw everything you've got at you to keep you from writing, which will ultimately lead to deep unhappiness and depression.

Pressfield's ultimate encouragement is that artists need to be professional about their art, seeing it as work. Work that must be done. Work that doesn't have to be all-consuming. Work that is deeply satisfying and fulfilling. To help us with our work, Pressfield believes the heavens have sent Muses to guide us. While he describes these Muses very literally, I prefer to think of them in the abstract, as vision, mission, values - the inspiration that sustains our projects.

I don't think it's any secret that I have always wanted to write a book. I think I've got a couple of pretty decent ideas. I've got a skeletal outline for one, and I've discussed with Vanessa how we could write another together. Pressfield has given me a new way to think about these endeavors. Now I'm ready to go to work, entering the fray of the war.

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1 comment:

CK Lunchbox said...

Robb, I read the review and I'm anxious to get my hands on it. Very timely in ways I couldn't begin to explain. Tried to rsvp at local library and they have it listed but it's unavailable to check out (?) Luckily the Houston library system has a copy - hoping to read it on our trip (with all 5 kids probably not). One way or another I'm going to read it. Thanks for the note