Hi and welcome back to another week on the Chrissie Murphy Designs Blog. It’s book review time and today I’m going to be reviewing Steven Pressfield’s book called, “The War of Art”.
If you’ve followed the blog from its very early beginnings, this book might sound familiar to you… and you’d be right in thinking that. It was in my very first Artist Interview with Brandon Mikel Paul, that the book was first mentioned. If you missed Brandon’s Interview you can read it here. But it was Brandon who recommended this as a “must read” book for any inspiring artist. I’ve come to really value Brandon’s perspective, so I placed an order on EBay and the rest, as they say, is history.
Where to begin?
The first thing I feel I should explain, is that this isn’t a straight forward reading book. It’s a book that contains three books and each book is broken down into really small chapters. This makes reading super easy, because you can put it down and pick it up as you need. And, let’s face it, you might need to do that often, depending on how much spare time you have to read. But rest assured if you do, you won’t miss the gist of things. It’s like the book was made for that kind of reading.
What is “The War of Art” about?
I’m not going to go into great detail here, except to say, “The War of Art” is a book about Resistance. It’s about learning how to break through blocks to win your inner creative battles. Steven puts it this way:
“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”
So let’s get into it, let’s look at each of the three books.
Book One, Resistance, Defining the Enemy
Book One is all about recognising Resistance and understanding how it operates. I found this to be incredibly insightful and I experienced some valuable revelation about the different forms Resistance can manifest itself in for an Artist. There were a few forms that I saw in myself for the very first time, which is a bit sad, BUT…. now that I’m aware, I can take action to combat it. Steven has put together a very comprehensive list of how Resistance manifests (it’s characteristics) and I’m certain you will see ways that it could be manifesting in your life as well.
Book Two, Combating Resistance, Turning Pro
Steven changes the focus in Book Two. Book Two starts to explore how “professionals” operate in the midst of Resistance. By professional, he means it as an ideal, as compared to an amateur, Steven puts it this way, “The amateur plays part-time, the professional full time. The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week“.
It was in Book Two that I began to see things differently. Steven says that “Resistance hates it when we turn pro“, and I have to agree. There’s something that happens when you man up, commit to things and get serious about what you set out to do. It’s like Resistance is learning that you finally mean business.
Book Two is jam packed with ways the “Professional” conducts himself. Have a think about how you behave at your workplace. Steven says it like this, “We show up everyday. We show up no matter what. We stay on the job all day… “. Put that beside how you operate as an artist, and most of us begin to realise just how amateur we are. In Book Two, Steven breaks this down even more and he explains how a professional handles things and in doing so, how Resistance can be defeated.
There is a lot of wisdom and experience packed in to Book Two. It’s shaped some of my actions and caused me to stop, and reposition myself professionally when Resistance is around. It was also a factor behind the creation of my How to Develop A Conqueror’s Mindset as an Artist blog post series, because through it I began to see that I could conquer.
Book Three, Beyond Resistance, The Higher Realm
Aaaaah… Book Three…. I’m going to be honest, this is where Steven lost me a little bit. He lost me because, I have a firm relationship with the Higher Realm already, the Creator, Jesus Christ. So I found it difficult to consider embracing other realms, but there were components in this final book that I did empathise with. Steven says that “As Resistance works to keep us from becoming who we were born to be, equal and opposite powers are counter-poised against it.” This is otherwise known as the battle between good and evil or light and dark, which I know to be true.
Steven’s main point in Book Three is getting the reader to understand there are forces at work, and just as Resistance is a force working against you, there are forces working for you. Aligning yourself with the force working for you is what he is encouraging in Book Three, and in doing so, moving yourself beyond Resistance.
So to my Rose Ranking
I’m going to give “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield 3 roses out of 5. There were elements within it that I found to be helpful, thought provoking and valuable. But for whatever reason, I was expecting more… and I don’t really know why. Perhaps I’d mentally placed the book on such a high pedestal before ever having read it, and in doing so I was slightly disappointed when I did. I’m really not sure. But I do know I was expecting more and it didn’t quite deliver.
Is that to say you’ll experience the same? Oh gosh no! Definitely not. In fact, if you’ve never really contemplated why you have creative block, how you can recognise it and then overcome it, you need to read this book. If you recognise yourself as an amateur and you want to turn pro, you need to read this book. It’s a book that you should have in your back pocket as you seek to make your own way creatively.
“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield is a book that’s not going to break your bank balance, it’s affordable and readily available online through good book sellers. Give it a shot. If you don’t want to purchase it in the traditional form, it’s also available as an ebook and as an audiobook, both are cheaper options. Your local library may also have a copy, and you could just borrow it instead.
Whatever you choose, let me know. I’d love to hear what you think about the book. Leave me a comment down below.
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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!
Bless you my friend