The War of Art

Steven Pressfield

Every Artist should read this. No exceptions.

Why? I’m yet to meet a creative person who hasn’t doubted their skills / talent / work / practice / [insert your insecurity here].

Being an artist has its highs and lows. Even if you didn’t know what to call it, you will likely recognise the struggle of battling resistance – the term Pressfield uses to describe the force that seems to sabotage our creative endeavours at every turn. You probably call it procrastination, or find yourself making excuses, or doubting your abilities. The War of Art* gets to the heart of this and the first thing I felt was enormous relief that I wasn’t just me. The struggle, it appears, is universal!

Pressfield explores the inner obstacles that prevent artists from realising their full potential. He calls these obstacles “Resistance” and provides powerful insights into how to overcome them. At its core, “The War of Art” is a rallying cry for artists to do the work. To show up, day after day, and pursue their creative passions relentlessly.

Building Your Creative Practice

The central aspect of Pressfield’s message is the importance of building a practice. Establish a routine and dedicate time to developing a consistent craft. He argues that developing a regular creative practice is essential for growth and mastery. It took me a long time for my excuses to dry up, the ones that said I’m too busy this week, I have deadlines I must deliver, the kids have a lot on just now, eventually I faced the reality of my choices and realised that I too would be a better artist if I committed to a daily practice.

Pressfield reminds us that inspiration is not enough, it’s the discipline to sit down and do the work that truly counts. He challenges the idea of the “tortured artist” waiting for divine inspiration to strike and instead champions the idea of being a professional. Being a disciplined individual who shows up and puts in the effort regardless of mood or circumstance. Turn up, do the work whether you feel like it or not!

I am already a better artist because of this daily work. The War of Art highlights the importance of embracing the process rather than worrying about the outcome. Forget about success or failure, they only lead to fear and paralysis. Focus on the journey, find fulfilment in the act of creation itself, rather than getting caught up in external validation, criticism or perfection.

Resistance

The War of Art invites you to confront Resistance head-on. It has practical strategies for cultivating discipline, overcoming procrastination, and staying true to your creative calling. I hope, like me, you’ll be inspired to establish a daily practice that nurtures your creativity and fosters artistic growth. Most importantly, you’ll realise you are not alone in your struggles, and that every artist faces Resistance in some form or another.

This book tops the list of books to read on your journey to being an Artist. I urge you to let it be your guide. Let it remind you that the most meaningful work often requires the greatest effort, but the rewards reflect this.

It’s about reclaiming your creative power and refusing to be held back by self-doubt or fear of failure.

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