The War of Art: Summary Review & Takeaways
This is a summary review of The War of Art containing key details about the book.
What is The War of Art About?
The War of Art inspires its readers to defeat "Resistance" - their one true foe that prevents them from being successful in creative professions. The War of Art highlights the forms of resistance faced by artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and others who are trying to break through creative barriers. The book not just identifies resistance as the "enemy", but it also provides a way to overcome these hurdles to achieve creative success.
Who is the author of The War of Art?
Steven Pressfield is an American author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays. He is a master of historical fiction with Gates of Fire being on the required reading list at West Point and the recommended reading list of the Joint Chiefs.
[Favorite Quote]: “The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don't create the new life, they only bear it." (Meaning)
What are key takeaways from The War of Art?
Takeaway #1 Resistance Affects Everyone
How many times have you had an 'aha moment', a calling that you haven't acted upon? Whether your idea was to start a business, get fit, give up your job to travel the world, or write a book, you likely had something holding you back. That 'thing' is called resistance and it naturally affects everyone when they seek to do or try something new. It's your inner voice that say' 'I'll start tomorrow' or 'No, I couldn't'.
Takeaway #2 Weakening Resistance
To weaken and ultimately, overcome resistance you first have to accept it. Don't let it stop you, don't let the self doubt creep in, just acknowledge that everyone feels resistance and that you must continue to commit to and focus on your dream. Feeling resistance means you're on the right path so use the fear to motivate yourself, to recognize that this idea is something you're passionate about and that's why you're afraid of failing.
Takeaway #3 Going After Your Dream 24/7
Resistance is weakened when you're organized and persistent in achieving your dreams. If you're working on your dream/goal haphazardly, a couple of hours each week or whenever inspiration strikes (probably not that often!), you're not dedicated enough to making your dream or goal happen. Even when you're working full-time you can carve out time to work on your passion project whether that's during your commute, once the kids are in bed, or even whilst you're at work.
Discipline yourself so that you're really and truly working hard towards your goal and don't let setbacks stop you – Hard work and dedication are what make dreams become a reality so ,by all means, follow that creative madness when it seizes you. When you're not in that energetic flow, carry on anyway - Set realistic goals, learn your limitations and get others to help you or teach you. When you focus on the work process and recognize that it's a long slow journey full of adversity you weaken resistance as you're no longer focusing solely on the finishing line.
When you're in your territory or zone you'll know it because you'll feel satisfied yet also challenged – A territory might be the gym, in your studio, or out on the street surrounded by the people you're helping, it could even be a manuscript; it's the place where the hard work happens day in, day out and provides you with an unlimited resource to expand and continue your soul work.
At some stage in your journey to achieving your dream, you will have to face the restrictive social hierarchies that oppose change and stifle passion, creativity, and success, especially when you're stepping outside of the 'norm'. Remain true to yourself and your work during this time so that you're pleasing yourself first rather than working to please others.
- Print length: 168 Pages
- Audiobook: 2 hrs and 29 mins
- Genre: Nonfiction, Writing, Self Help, Art, Business, Personal Development
What are some of the main summary points from the book?
Here are some key summary points from the book:
- Resistance: Pressfield introduces the concept of "Resistance," which is the primary obstacle that individuals face when trying to pursue their creative endeavors. Resistance is the force that opposes creativity and manifests as procrastination, self-doubt, fear, and distractions.
- Creative Work as a Battle: Pressfield frames creative work as a battle, emphasizing the importance of showing up consistently and committing to the process. He highlights the need to overcome Resistance through discipline and perseverance.
- Professional vs. Amateur Mindset: Pressfield discusses the difference between a professional and an amateur mindset. Professionals approach their creative work with dedication, reliability, and a strong work ethic, while amateurs lack the commitment and often give in to Resistance.
- Turning Pro: Pressfield suggests that the key to overcoming Resistance is to adopt a professional mindset and approach your creative work as a full-time commitment. Turning pro involves taking your work seriously, developing a routine, and embracing the challenges that come with it.
- Fear and Self-Doubt: The book addresses the fear and self-doubt that often accompany creative endeavors. Pressfield encourages individuals to acknowledge their fears but not let them dictate their actions. He emphasizes the importance of taking risks and pushing through self-doubt to achieve creative breakthroughs.
- The Creative Process: Pressfield emphasizes the value of consistent effort and routine in the creative process. He argues that showing up to work regularly, regardless of inspiration or motivation, is crucial for overcoming Resistance and achieving creative success.
- Professional Mindset and Habits: The book emphasizes the significance of professionalism in creative work. Pressfield encourages individuals to develop habits and rituals that support their creative process and eliminate distractions.
- Long-Term Commitment: Pressfield stresses the importance of long-term commitment to one's creative pursuits. He highlights the fact that creativity is not a one-time event but rather a lifelong journey that requires continuous effort and growth.
What is a good quote from The War of Art?
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
― Steve Pressfield - The War of Art Quotes
What do critics say?
Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "A marvelous help for anybody who has ever encountered the resistance of a blank page, an empty canvas or an unyielding musical scale." — Stan Berenstein, co-creator of The Berenstein Bears
* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.