Late to the Party – Finally Reading The War of Art

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is one of the books that, as a writer, you feel obligated to read. It’s right up there with Writing Down the Bones and Bird by Bird, but it perceives and talks about art in a completely different way. It takes a “harder” and more pragmatic view of the creative process and the writer’s life. It’s a no-punches-pulled, nose-to-grindstone, get-off-your-lily-ass-and-do-your-work kind of pep talk.

And, it isn’t.

Despite the fact that he employs a lot of  military and warfare metaphors, Pressfield actually has an almost lyrical view of how writers get their ideas and develop their work. He talks a great deal about angels and muses; and he’s not referring to them in a strictly conceptual way. He believes that there are various intelligences operating on different planes of reality who are helping the human race evolve by inspiring artists to bring their work into the physical world.

Pretty cool, right? Almost magical.

I found it interesting that a book titled, The War of Art, has so much to say on the subject of love. While Pressfield is unflinching in his admonitions to stop making excuses and just do your work already, he always circles back to love as a touchstone – as the driving force behind our creative impulses. This is always a helpful reminder. When you are, as my friend puts it, “slaving away in the word mines,” it’s important to remember that you crawled in there of your own accord, and you did it for love.

If you haven’t read this classic yet, I do recommend it. It might not be exactly what you expected, but I guarantee that you will come away with at least one (and likely many) nugget of wisdom to help you beat your Resistance demons. While I’ve had a paperback copy of this book sitting on the shelf forever, it wasn’t until I stumbled across the audio book version (read by one of my all-time favorite narrators, George Guidall) that I finally took the plunge. It’s a short listen – just under four hours including the foreword by Robert McKee.

Love to hear what you think of it if you have already read it or if you decide to listen now.

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.

8 thoughts on “Late to the Party – Finally Reading The War of Art

  1. I started reading this book some time back and then put it down for whatever reason and never got back to it. I do remember though liking the tone, as well as the intelligence of it. I’ve gotten into audible books lately, so now I think I’m gonna put this on the list.

    Thank you so much, Jamie for the head up! 🙂

    • Excellent, Paul. I had a similar experience … picking it up and putting it down. I don’t know what kept me from getting more engaged with the book; but I know that the audio version definitely made it much easier to consume. In fact, I may listen to it again in the not-too-distant future! 😉

  2. Thanks for the review. A friend recommended it to me at a writers group i attend. I hav bought it already but hav made all kinds of ezcuses to not get to it for fear of it calling me out on my bull.This should do it. Will start with the audio version

    • It will definitely call you out on your bull. (I cringed and winced in a few places, to be sure.) BUT … it’s all for a good cause – getting you to do your work. I like the foreword in particular – McKee lays out the “journey” of the book’s three parts very nicely and helps pull you through the tougher parts so you can get to the good stuff at the end.

    • This book provides an interesting counterpoint to the other two. It’s a completely different tone and voice. Having read it (or, listened to it, as the case may be), I’m now wanting to re-read/listen to the other two titles to balance my muse out. 😉

  3. It’s an amazing book…read by my father, and now me.
    Well, I read it twice to understand properly..good review 🙂

  4. Pingback: Late to the Party – Finally Reading The War of Art — Live to Write – Write to Live | azizalasha

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