Other Books

The War of Art

Pressfield, Steven - Finished Feb 02, 2017

Run-on Sentence Summary

Stop procrastinating, go do that thing!


I went in to this book fully prepared to hate it. I am weary of self help gurus, and Pressfield fits the archetype as a writer only famous for harping on how to be a writer. It breaks my heart that this book is #200 in Amazon. As planned, I came out feeling vaguely annoyed yet still on the whole motivated.

The core idea is quite simple. Every artist battles daily with doubt, what Pressfield labels “Resistance” with a capital R. To become a professional, you must take your knocks and show up day after day. A pro has a healthy detachment from their work to prevent from becoming paralyzed by it, and understands that Resistance can manifest itself in pernicious ways, such as feeling like you should be spending more time with your family. They don’t make excuses- they work hard and master their craft.

The prose is overwrought to the point of being silly:

“The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.”

He invokes names such as Leonidas, Odysseus, Socrates, Zeus, and Krishna. Whatever, at this point I was on board.

Then, two thirds of the way through the book, he takes a beeline into the incomprehensible. He takes the dubious concept of the Freudian Id and equates it directly with Resistance. Then he makes a strange, mystical argument for how all inspiration comes from our muse, a supernatural higher power.

I’ll save my breath. It is a short read, and if you are looking for a quick burst of motivation, you could do worse.

Final Thoughts

Weirdest factoid in the postscript: In 2008 he was made an honorary citizen by the city of Sparta.

Favorite Quote

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our 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."