2 hours ago
Friday, July 15, 2011
The War of Art
When this book came out I was working in a new age bookshop, and it was one of those titles that come out of nowhere - no hype, no warning, just suddenly everyone was calling up and ordering it. I wasn't much interested then - the title kind of put me off, and I assumed it was aimed purely at visual artists.
Fast forward four years or so, and the author, Steven Pressfield, has shot to prominence one more with his rather daring new book Do the Work. Endorsed by Seth Godin, published by Amazon & Godin's new outfit The Domino Project and sponsored by GE, it represented a whole new type of book. I haven't read it yet, but am very keen to.
But all the renewed talk of Pressfield brought The War of Art to prominence once more, and after listening to him interviewed on a couple of podcasts, I knew I had to get it.
And yes, having read it I have become, instantly and unchangeably one of the members of the cult of Pressfield.
Put simply, this book will change your life and the way you look at your work. A few pages in I was shaken by how simple and how true it all was. It was as though the author was writing specifically about me and my own life history. And the thing is, EVERYONE says the same thing about the book. It really is that extraordinary.
What is its central message? That we all have a "work" within us that we were put on this earth to do, and unless we start doing it our lives will be frustrating, unhappy and ultimately destructive. Pressfield says that the task we resist the most is the one we are meant to do, and that we should do it first thing every day, thereby fulfilling our sacred role on earth.
And you don't need to be an artist, a writer or an opera singer to be able to get something out of this book. Pressfield is adamant that we all have an important task to do, even if it isn't what society would call "creative." Whatever you feel called to do - dance, travel, teach or (Pressfield's favourite example) run a plumbing business - you need to get out there and start doing it now. Your life depends on it.
I was so inspired by this book, but also gained some solid practical advice from it. He suggests we treat ourselves as our own company, and every Monday morning have a weekly task meeting for ourselves, writing out our list of jobs and duties that need to be completed by the end of the week, I am definitely going to start doing this.
The dangers that threaten to steer us from our true course are legion, and Pressfield is merciless in demanding that we jettison all of them. From being overly-sensitive to criticism to being lost in procrastination, The War of Art identifies all of these as traps, as part of the "resistance" that we cultivate, and allow to drive us from our best work .
You simply must read this book. It is by far the most inspirational book I have read in many years, and it has already had a huge effect on my life and output. All writers and creative workers will benefit from its advice.
The man is a genius.