For the dormant passions of your soul, War of Art brings with it the spark you need.
by Nikhil Sreekandan
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, has quite the long and self-explanatory title. In this quick inspirational read, renowned screen and fiction writer Steven Pressfield shows readers how to identify, defeat and unlock the inner barriers to creativity.
Published by Black Irish, the author’s own publishing company, the lengthy title was probably an attempt at differentiating The War of Art from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
But, six years since hitting the shelves, Pressfield’s maiden venture into non-fiction has generated its own cult following of lovers and haters and is now billed as one of the foremost motivational reads for anyone with a passion, a dream.
Be it running a marathon, starting your own business or writing the next great best-seller, the War of Art is for everyone of them. We would even push it further to suggest it as quintessential reading for any soul to walk this Earth.
Of course, written mostly from the creative working perspective of a writer, the connect achieved between the author and an aspirational writer is on a different level when compared to everyone else. Still, if this one doesn’t get you off your ass and working towards your dream, nothing else will.
The book has been divided into three parts based on the core concept of Resistance: Resistance, Combating Resistance and Beyond Resistance. Resistance a.k.a the enemy of creativity is the all-encompassing label given by Pressfield for that destructive force in human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term action that would do us and others some actual good.
In Book One, he deals with the concept of Resistance by presenting a rogue’s gallery of the many manifestations of resistance, that every one of us will recognise.
In Book Two, he provides us with the cure, of turning pro and overcoming resistance as he lays out the day-by-day campaign of a professional.
Finally, in Book Three, Pressfield looks at Inspiration, the sublime result of putting on the harness and ploughing the field of his or her art. He talks about those forces from a higher realm that provide us with the stunning flashes of insight our unworthy selves can only dream of creating. Laid out with poetic brilliance, the author’s belief that the ultimate source of creativity is divine, not only is profoundly moving but brilliantly brings all the three books into one coherent whole, leaving one with a lot of food for thought.
The book has its fair number of haters and we think it is down to its final section and its discussion of the ‘higher realm’, of angels and muses. While the romanticising of talent as something more divine may be profoundly moving for some, it could easily put off others. And that’s why the author urges his uncomfortable readers to interpret the concept in the abstract.
According to many of the readers, there are also several controversial statements made in the book. Pressfield illustrates, for example, how someone diagnosed with cancer on deciding to leave everything unimportant and focus on what he has always wanted to do, suddenly pushes his cancer into remission. Nothing more than an overarching hyperbole to cement the importance of doing what you are here to do, this only takes the book into its final almighty motivational crescendo.
A quick pleasant read which you will pick up repeatedly for its beautiful writing and inspirational thoughts, it is a must-read for us INKLINERS. Screenwriting guru, Robert McKee writes in the foreword of The War of Art, ‘when Steven Pressfield was writing The War of Art, she [inspiration] had her hands all over him’. She definitely did, and from the overflowing pages of this masterpiece, you just might breathe her into your life too.
P.S. Interestingly, INKLINE happened soon after three members of our small team had read the War of Art.
Nikhil Sreekandan is a journalist with the desire to explore life through the stories he chases. He currently works as a content editor at Nature inFocus, India’s leading platform for nature and wildlife. When not lost in cinema, contemporary literature or his earphones — there is a genuine attempt at ‘giving chase’, and it is beautiful.