When I read The War of Art in college I didn’t fully realize the importance of what, at the time, I considered a textbook. I added, The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield, to my semester reading list and moved on. However, this iconic nonfiction is a must-read for creatives.
Readers often compare The War of Art to Sun-Tzu’s, The Art of War. If you are eager to work toward your dreams as a warrior, this book is for you. Pressfield focuses on the mentality of seizing your dreams rather than hoping creativity strikes, a crucial mindset for long-term success. Let’s dive into The War of Art, Steven Pressfield’s masterpiece.
The War of Art: What's covered
What is The War Of Art about? A summary
The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle, is a nonfiction book on creativity, published in 2012, and written by internationally bestselling author, Steven Pressfield. Widely recognized as a must-read for creatives, this book dives into many aspects of the creative life.
In his book, Pressfield’s succinct explanation of how to follow your dreams, and even how to overcome self doubt as a writer, places this book in the following categories:
- Personal transformation
Throughout the pages of The War of Art, Pressfield identifies the primary issue keeping creatives from reaching their goals—resistance.
In order to provide concrete ways to overcome resistance, he asks questions such as:
- What holds creatives back?
- Why is there an inner naysayer?
- How can creatives avoid roadblocks?
Rather than simply ask the above questions, Pressfield uses The War of Art to pinpoint the central issue holding readers back. He then shares a battle plan (are you noticing a correlation to The Art of War yet?) and lays a roadmap of how to go after your goals.
In addition, The War of Art doesn’t focus on how to feel inspired as much as resolving to overcome and succeed. If you want to reach your highest potential as a writer and are willing to accept some tough love, The War of Art is your next must-read.
Deeper takeaways from The War Of Art
The War of Art is not a creative guide devoid of emotion, but a heartfelt portrayal of how to follow your dreams. Yes, there are hard facts within the pages of this book, but they are intended to help you realize your deepest dreams.
Pressfield recognizes that when you choose to go to war to follow dreams, the following happens:
- Your overcome your fears on a regular basis
- You pursue your dreams to reach your potential
- You give back to your family and friends
- You have the power to impact the world
Below are a few, deeper takeaways from this must-read book. No matter where you are in your writing journey, note the takeaway that most resonates with you.
The more you resonate with a specific aspect of the book, the more likely you are to put it into practice.
Embrace the work
On his website, Steven Pressfield states that “The War of Art is not about genius, it’s about work.” Hard work emerges as the secret sauce to success and must be embraced. While there are formulas and routines that can aid hard work, hard work is the thread tying aspirations to success. Enough said?
Work like the professional you want to be
Pressfield also stresses the importance of working toward your goal in a professional manner. Individuals who truly want to reach their highest potential work toward success with focus, punctuality, and a deep dedication to their craft.
Recognize the subtle power of procrastination
The War of Art highlights the importance of overcoming resistance in order to reach your dreams. However, Pressfield also spotlights one of the most powerful, yet common, enemies standing between you and your goals—procrastination. Choose to do the work, and do so as soon as possible.
Overcome your fear by pressing forward
An easy trap aspiring authors fall into is believing they must feel ready to begin before they take action. Resist the urge to fall for this. Pressfield shows that fear fuels resistance, the number one obstacle holding you back. Rather than turn away from your fear, Pressfield states you should move toward the fear and overcome it.
Who should read The War Of Art?
You should read The War of Art if you are serious about pursuing your writing goals and becoming an author. However, The War of Art is not for the faint of heart. If you want a battle plan to follow as you work toward ultimate success as an author, dive into Pressfield’s remarkable book.
However, before you commit to reading this book, recognize that the book is only as powerful as you allow it to be. If you do decide to read The War of Art, chances are high that you will fall into one of three areas.
First, you can read the pages and then check it off your reading list.
This is gaining knowledge without execution.
Second, you can read the book and decide to implement some of the tactics Steven Pressfield lays out.
This is gaining knowledge and testing the waters.
But third, you can read The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle, and go to war to achieve your dreams.
This is gaining knowledge for the purpose of execution.
Reading the book in this way is how you empower yourself to follow your dreams.
Once you commit to reading The War of Art, make the most of your time investment. Grab a pen and your favorite highlighter and take notes as you read.
For each chapter, write down takeaways such as:
- Writing prompts you come up with
- Examples of writing goals you can achieve
- Ideas for an inspiration board for writers to stay on track
If you don’t have time to read the entire book, listen to Steven Pressfield’s chat with Chandler Bolt, The War of Art, Turning Pro as a Writer.
Become a full-time warrior
Perhaps one of the most important takeaways from Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, is a simple quote: “The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.”
If you want to publish your book, you must commit to living as a full-time warrior, not a weekend warrior.
The weekend warrior does the work when it fits into the schedule. This type of warrior focuses on the immediate. This warrior simply dreams of the future. This warrior is an amateur. The full-time warrior, the professional, works toward the dream seven days a week.
This warrior goes to battle for the dream and implements the following:
- Embraces the hard work
- Acts like a professional
- Refuses procrastination
- Presses on, despite fear
If you’re ready to become a full-time warrior, here are two next-steps for you. First, either listen to Chandler Bolt’s podcast with Steven Pressfield, linked above, or purchase the book. Second, we don’t want anything to hold you back from your writing goals, so take advantage of this resource below. Learn everything you need to know about publishing, for free. Happy writing!