The War of Art Book Review

the war of art

Teachers are some of the most creative people I know. They have to be.

Moreso than almost any other career, the amount of content teachers need to create staggers the mind. Teachers create content for nearly every day of the school year.

And they don’t have to create it just once; they modify that content yearly for different groups of students. And with every research study published, new techniques are integrated into the school day.

If you’ve ever created anything, you know how exhausting that process is and how difficult it is to keep producing. Teachers feel that resistance daily.

No matter what your field of endeavor, whether you’re a teacher, painter, musician, writer, or entrepreneur, you’ve probably faced creative resistance. That feeling of resistance, of not wanting to do the work, is universal. And it’s the subject of Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art.

Pressfield is no stranger to creative resistance. He’s a best-selling author who has also worked as a bartender, a truck driver, and an oilfield roustabout. He knows what it’s like to feel fear and procrastinate. But he also knows that the only way to overcome creative resistance is to do the work.

In The War of Art, Pressfield examines the nature of creative resistance and offers practical advice for overcoming it. He also looks at the factors that can lead to creative success.

It’s the kind of book that perhaps you would never pick up and become entranced by the story, but on the other hand, it is the kind of book you could randomly pick up, read a paragraph, and feel a bit more motivated to pursue your endeavors.

If you’re struggling to get your work done, this book is definitely worth a read.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

– Steven Pressfield

An Overview of The War of Art

The War of Art” is a book about creativity.

Pressfield discusses the various obstacles artists face when creating their work. He also talks about how important it is to stay focused and dedicated to your art to overcome these obstacles.

This book will inspire, challenge, and even make you a little angry.

Pressfield prominently addresses God throughout his work while also using four-letter words.

He picks a fight with our archenemy: Resistance.

And that’s a good thing! He wants to urge you to do something meaningful, get up and moving.

To get off your butt, slay the dragons, and do something extraordinary.

Pressfield cusses. He gets angry. He wants you to get angry, too — to get so upset you actually do something with the gifts you’ve been given.

He’s not interested in coddling; this is war, after all.

The book is full of inspiring stories and advice on being more creative. It is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the creative process.

Three Phases of The War

Like The Art of War, there is no narrative or overarching story. Pressfield offers snippets of brilliance to power your battle against The Resistance. These snippets are categorized into three parts:

Book 1: Resistance – Defining the Enemy
Book 2: Combating Resistance – Turning Pro
Book 3: Beyond Resistance – Higher Realm

I nodded in agreement more than I care to mention while reading Book 1. In it, Pressfield discusses the different types of Resistance and how they can manifest differently at different times.

The second book details the contrasting work habits of those who always show up and complete their projects compared to those who don’t. Here, Pressfield covers various challenges that creative individuals face and how professionals versus amateurs deal with these obstacles.

In Book 3, Pressfield discusses angels, gods, the self vs. ego, hierarchical vs. territorial thinking, and more.

Pressfield’s thoughts are predominantly about writing (he does write for a living), but his advice for overcoming The Resistance applies to anyone involved with creative work, including teachers.

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”

– Steven pressfield

My Thoughts on The War of Art

If you and I have ever talked at length, you’ve probably heard me mention this book. I recommend it to almost everyone I talk with and every teacher or administrator. It’s more than worth the price of admission for anyone in a creative field. Clear, inspiring, and to the point; things that aren’t always true for books in the personal development space.

This book is fierce. It will make you uncomfortable. It will make you re-evaluate your choices about your work and whether or not you are really giving it your all.

And that’s a good thing. We need to look in the mirror now and then.

But Pressfield lets you know that you’re not the only one who feels Resistance. EVERYONE who tries to create ANYTHING fights that battle. More than anything else, what I have taken away from this book is this: I am not alone in this war.

I can’t recommend this book more highly. It’s probably in my top five books of all time. It should be required reading in universities. I buy a copy for every teacher I work with in my teaching fellowship. I will continue to re-read this book every year, likely for the rest of my life.

You need this book. Trust me; you need it.