Mini Book Review – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

As part of my ongoing journey into writer’s block and writing itself, I was pointed towards this book by a reader. I’d like to post a mini-review to go over the most important parts of the book that might help other writers out of their writer’s block.

So the key points to take away from this book are

  1. What you’re feeling when you can’t write is referred to as “resistance” by Steve Pressfield
  2. Make sure you look up Steve online – if you need yet another reason to get yourself together, he’s it because he has been there and done that many times over. In other words, he’s been through the same shit that you have and he came out the other side the better for it
  3. Doubt and self-sabotage (huge things for me) is also resistance mucking around with your fears of moving to the next step in your writing career.
  4. Fear is Resistance and vice versa. Fear of failure isn’t even the biggest mountain to climb. According to Steve, fear of success is what really keeps writers from reaching their goals. And you do not need to “beat” the fear that you are feeling. Rather, you need to acknowledge that it is there and that it can never be beaten. Instead you do your work in spite of this. There is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a “dread-free” artist. This one hit me in the face like a brick.
  5. Don’t fall into the “support group” trap because Steve says that having people close to you that “support” your writing can actually be the exact opposite of what you need. Why? Because some of these so-called “support” people will only make it harder for you to reach your goals and eventually, they’ll fall into the same group as, you got it, resistance.Also he states that using friends and family as critics can actually be detrimental to your writing process. Don’t do it.
  6. Your ego is a huge deal when it comes to being a creative person. Steve dedicates an entire chapter (not that long) to explaining the difference between ego and “self”. Some of it is good to take in but he does discuss the “divine” in this chapter and his interpretation of it. Take away only what you need.
  7. Steve also talks about being a “hack” writer. This part is very important. A hack is someone who caters to the whims of others, of trends, of what everyone else wants. And that leaves you out in the cold. To become true to yourself as a writer, you must write for yourself and nobody else. You must not write to become famous or rich. If you do that you are no longer writing for yourself. You must sit down and write what you have inside you, edit it, revise it – do whatever your writing needs. And then move forward.
  8. He talks extensively about the “professional” and the “amateur”. This was the best part of the book and it will definitely wake you up to yourself and what you’re doing wrong.

I have outlined the important parts of the book that made sense to me as a creative person. It’s important to note here that I am not a “self-help” type of person. I have nothing against people who enjoy reading self-help books. I am just a skeptical person by nature and it’s hard for me to trust in the words of someone I have never met. But Steve’s words really resonated on a deep level for me. I believe if you apply what you learn from Steve, taking in only what you need to, you will feel a lot better about the road ahead.

I suppose the biggest question is “How has it helped me?” It made me recognise and understand the feelings I have been experiencing while writing (or not writing as the case may be). But it also brought to the forefront what is most important and what isn’t. As a writer or any creative person, you can easily get bogged down by other tasks that you know aren’t as important as your writing. Your writing should be all that matters. Using any other task as an excuse (even if that excuse is valid) is “resistance” creeping into your mindset and stopping you from writing.

Thank you for reading. I hope the mini-review I’ve given above will help you or at least prompt you to check out Steve’s book which you can do right here.

If you’re new to my blog, welcome, dearest writer! On this blog, you will find content about writing, the writer’s life and thoughts on the writing process.

You will also find tips and tricks and a specific focus on fiction writing from a first-time fiction writer (that’s me!)

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Categories: Book Reviews, Books, The Craft of Writing

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7 replies

  1. This sounds like a great book for artists, and writers in particular. I’ve come across all of these ideas in one book or another. Believe me, I’ve been through them all, lol. One I liked in particular is Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. But as far as Pressfield’s book is concerned, I especially like the idea of writing for yourself. I’ve never been one to follow trends or anything like that, but I’ve also read contradictory statements elsewhere that says, if you want to write for publication you’re not just writing for yourself, you’re now writing for a reader, and that changes things. I understand what they’re getting at, I guess, but I’ve always been one to just write what I want, lol. So I’m on board with him here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, the thing is and this is probably why I shy away from self-help articles and books, is because again, it’s an individual interpretation of what they think you should do. The writer is writing an article for whatever reason. At the end of the day most writers write for money. I spent time on Medium and oh my god… everyone there is focused almost exclusively on eyeballs on their writing to get paid. I also used various “writing” job sites that are basically asking you to sell your work for next to nothing. Is it okay to start from the ground up? Yes but not if you’re selling your work for next to nothing. Especially if you already have a day job. That changes things considerably. I mean I’ve also freelanced full-time and that was a struggle until I was hired as an editor for a magazine. But those jobs are extremely rare to come by these days. So basically if you want to make a living writing today, you need to consider every angle three times over before you commit to doing a thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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