Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book is about becoming who you are meant to be and doing what you are meant to do.

It’s divided into three parts. The first part looks at Resistance: the thing that stops us from doing what we’re meant to do, and it can be summed up by one word: fear. The second part looks at how to combat Resistance: by Turning Pro and doing our work. The third part looks at the Muse: the opposite of Resistance.

It was a quick and easy read that was packed full of great advice and insights that have helped me in my writing journey. Pressfield doesn’t mess about; he can be blunt and straightforward, giving me the slap I needed to get to work.

What I got out of it as a writer:

So much!

The biggest thing: to just do the work of sitting down and writing.

Some other things:

  • To not fear failure. To fail, because it means you’ve done something.
  • To give the work my best, and then let it go, knowing my job is to work but I’m not my work.
  • To not worry about how people will respond to my work, because as long as I know I gave it my best, I’ll always be okay with it.
  • To write because it’s in me to write and that’s all I have to do.

It gives me courage to write, to do the work of giving it my best, and to let my writing be seen.

What I got out it as a reader:

I read it on my laptop through the Kindle Cloud Reader, so it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as if I held a paperback in my hands. Thus it may have affected how I see this book: I don’t look upon lovingly as if it were a dear friend, but rather like a cold master giving me some hard truths.

It’s entirely valuable to me, a must-read, but not necessarily one I enjoyed reading. I looked forward to reading it for the practical tips I could get out of it but not to get lost in the writing.

Maybe due to reading it on my laptop, I wasn’t immersed in this book. Instead, as I read it kept taking me out of the book to face the reality of my situation. But maybe that’s the whole point of the book. To wake us up.

What I got out of it for life:

I know now that my only job is to write. That is my work.

I don’t have to worry about succeeding or failing as a writer. I don’t have to worry about people loving or hating my writing. I don’t have to worry about getting my worth, identity, or wellbeing from what people say about my writing.

All I have to do is write those words that are inside me and want to come out. All I have to do is show up, do the work and give it my best.

What happens with my writing after I do the work is not up to me; I don’t control how people respond to it. The only thing that is within my control is doing the work.

It’s incredibly freeing to think this way and for that I am thankful for this book.

My recommendation:

If you’re a writer or want to be a writer, read it!

If you want to pursue a creative vocation, read it.

If you want to pursue any vocation, read it.

What writing books do you recommend?

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