War of Art Review: Unleashing Creativity by Overcoming Resistance

If you’re someone who battles with procrastination or finds yourself constantly at war with your own creative ambitions, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield may just be the ally you’re looking for. The book dissects the concept of Resistance, the intangible force that keeps us from doing our work, and it’s gained attention as a vital tool for artists, writers, and anyone looking to conquer self-imposed barriers to success. Pressfield doesn’t just name the adversary; he provides a battle plan for overcoming it, aiming to transform the reader from an amateur into a professional in their creative endeavors.

As you dive into Pressfield’s insights, you’ll uncover the less-discussed sides of the creative process, including the mystical elements that occasionally come into play. He doesn’t shy away from discussing the philosophical and cultural aspects of creativity either, making the book not just a practical guide but also a reflective piece on how one interacts with their art. Whether you’re an author, an artist, or someone who’s simply looking to navigate the pursuit of success in any professional field, Pressfield’s candid advice draws on his own experiences to provide a candid, no-nonsense roadmap.

Key Takeaways

  • “The War of Art” provides strategies to overcome creative blocks and achieve professional success.
  • Pressfield emphasizes the transformation from amateur to professional through discipline and commitment.
  • The book blends practical advice with explorations of the deeper, often mystical aspects of the creative process.

Understanding Resistance


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In the realm of creative work, resistance is like a stealthy enemy you might not even know you’re fighting. It’s the force that holds you back just when you’re ready to move forward with your ideas.

Defining Resistance

Resistance is the invisible force that opposes your efforts to be creative, productive, and to pursue meaningful goals. It’s often driven by fear and manifests in various forms, such as procrastination, self-doubt, or a host of other internal blocks. Resistance isn’t just about being lazy; it’s your brain’s way of protecting your ego from the potential risks associated with putting your work or ideas out there.

Common Forms of Resistance

  • Procrastination – The classic sign of resistance where you find reasons to put off tasks.
  • Fear – Anxiety about the unknown, fear of failure, or even fear of success that keeps you stagnant.
  • Self-doubt – Persistent insecurity about your talent or worth that can freeze you in place.
  • Ego – The protective part of yourself that fears change and can sabotage your progress.

Overcoming Resistance

Overcoming resistance requires discipline and a toolbox of strategies to combat its many forms:

  1. Acknowledgement – Recognize and name the resistance you’re feeling. It’s a real force, and by acknowledging it, you’re taking the first step in combating it.
  2. Routine – Create a structured schedule for your work to foster discipline and reduce the space for procrastination.
  3. Small Steps – Break down your tasks into manageable parts, so they feel less overwhelming and more achievable.
  4. Support Systems – Surround yourself with people who understand your goals and will hold you accountable.

By understanding what resistance is and how it operates in your life, you can begin to dismantle its power over you, clearing the path to productivity and creative fulfillment.

From Amateur to Professional


Navigating the transition from an amateur to a professional is a pivotal moment in any creative career, whether you’re an author, artist, or entrepreneur. Your journey will require a mindset shift, a deepened sense of motivation, and a commitment that distinguishes professionals from amateurs.

Traits of an Amateur

  • Lack of Commitment: You might find it easy to start projects, but the ability to finish them is what separates amateurs from professionals. Amateurs often work based on how they feel, which can lead to inconsistent results and unmet goals.
  • Fear-driven Choices: Resistance caused by fear can be a major obstacle. As an amateur, you might avoid challenges that push you out of your comfort zone, which is essential for growth.

Becoming a Professional

To turn pro, your outlook must evolve. Here’s how to foster that transformation:

  1. Define Your Goals: Clearly identify what you want to achieve. This clarity will direct your actions and enhance your motivation.
  2. Develop Discipline: Ensuring a structured approach to your work is key. Diligence and persistence will guide you through tough times when inspiration wanes.

Life as a Professional

Living as a professional requires:

  • Dedication: Approach your craft with a seriousness that reflects your commitment. This means setting regular hours and respecting your own processes.
  • Adaptability: Succeeding in a professional realm, especially as an entrepreneur, often demands flexibility. Be ready to adapt strategies to achieve your goals.

The Creative Process


In your journey as an artist or writer, understanding the creative process is crucial. It involves more than just waiting for inspiration; it requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to tackle inner creative battles.

The Role of Inspiration

Inspiration is the spark that ignites your creativity, but it’s fleeting. As you search for that elusive muse, remember that it’s not always a strike of lightning but often a gentle whisper. Your role is to be receptive and allow these moments of insight to guide your motivation, transforming inspiration into tangible art.

Work Ethics for Creativity

Creativity doesn’t flourish without hard work and commitment. Establish a routine that works for you, set clear goals, and honor your craft by showing up every day. Creativity can be trained, much like a muscle: the more consistently you work, the stronger your creative abilities become.

Embracing the Artist’s Journey

Your path as an artist will be filled with triumphs and roadblocks. Embrace each step, knowing that every struggle is part of sharpening your skills. Acknowledge the reality of inner creative battles, and commit to pushing through, understanding that resistance often preludes breakthroughs in your work. Your commitment helps you weather the storms and celebrate the sunny days of your artistic journey.

Practical Advice for Artists

Cultivating a successful creative practice relies heavily on establishing disciplined routines and dedicated spaces for your work. By nurturing these aspects, you enhance your productivity and sharpen your artistic discipline.

Building a Consistent Schedule

1. Prioritize Your Time: Start by setting a specific time each day exclusively for your creative efforts. Consistency is key; whether it’s early morning or late at night, ensure this time slot is when you’re at your most alert and undistracted.

  • Set Clear Goals: Break down larger projects into manageable tasks and clearly outline them in your schedule. This approach keeps your objectives in sight and your progress measurable.

Creating Your Territory

2. Designate Your Space: Your territory should be a personal and private space where you can delve into your art without interruption.

  • Make It Inviting: Stock your territory with all the necessary tools and inspirational items. A welcoming environment can greatly boost your inclination to consistently show up and create.

The Mystical Elements of Creativity

In exploring the mystical elements of creativity, you’ll discover the intriguing ways in which the creative process is often viewed as magical and otherworldly. This perspective suggests that your artistic endeavors are more than just the result of hard work—they’re also a dance with the unseen and the divine.

Invoking the Muse

Historically, muses were seen as angelic beings that blessed artists with inspiration. You might have experienced moments when ideas seemingly come from nowhere, moments when you feel guided by an unseen force. Steven Pressfield, in his book, talks about this phenomenon, suggesting that when you sit down to work, you’re actually in a ritual to call forth the muse. Embracing such rituals can be a powerful way to tap into your creative flow and feel the presence of magic in your work.

Intuition and the Higher Realm

Intuition can often feel like a message from the higher realm. When you trust your gut, you’re trusting a mystical force that guides you toward your creative destiny. This isn’t to say that all creative works are products of divine intervention; it’s about acknowledging the mysterious aspect of where inspiration might stem from. Dreams can be a rich source of inspiration, providing you with imagery and emotions that you can weave into your projects, making them a bridge between the mystical world and your tangible creations. This connection with the higher realm suggests that creativity could be a form of love, an intimate and sacred communion with the universe and its endless possibilities.

Cultural and Philosophical Reflections

In exploring the intertwining of art and conflict, we often find that the former provides a unique lens through which to examine the latter. Whether analyzing Sun Tzu’s timeless strategies or understanding the ego’s role in creativity, these cultural and philosophical reflections offer profound insights into the human condition.

Lessons from History

Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” is not simply a manual for military strategy; it’s a testament to the enduring relationship between psychological warfare and the arts. The text’s wisdom transcends the battlefield, offering you lessons on strategy that can be applied to both creative endeavors and daily life. The principles outlined in this work encourage a deep introspection of your own psychology and the psyche of competitors, whether they be in military or artistic arenas. Sun Tzu champions the notion that knowing yourself as well as your adversary leads to triumph in a myriad of confrontations.

Creative Work in Society

The difference between an amateur and a professional in the arts can often be distinguished by the handling of one’s ego. Art, when created by a professional, transcends individual ego — it aspires to express universal truths and experiences that resonate on a societal level. This concept is especially poignant in contexts where societal or cultural conflicts are present, as art becomes a reflection or even a form of commentary on these struggles.

The balancing act that you, as an artist or consumer of art, must perform is one of personal ego versus societal narrative. In your pursuit of art, be it through creation or appreciation, acknowledging the impact of your work or interpretation within the cultural fabric is crucial. Understanding the psychology behind creative output offers a window into the collective consciousness of society during times of peace and turmoil alike.

Personal Application

In The War of Art, mastering the inner battle is personal and unique to every individual. Your understanding of resistance and how to counteract it will directly influence your daily life and long-term aspirational goals.

Combating Daily Challenges

Facing daily challenges in your creative pursuits means recognizing and standing up to resistance. This nemesis manifests as fear, procrastination, and self-doubt. Embrace discipline as a daily practice; start with small, manageable tasks to build momentum. By setting a routine, you prime yourself to tackle larger obstacles. Remember, each day you overcome resistance, you’re forging strength for tomorrow’s battles.

  • Morning Routine: A consistent wake-up time and ritual help ground your day.
  • Priority Tasks: List your main creative objectives and tackle them first.
  • Accountability: Share your goals with a peer or mentor who will check in on your progress.

Fostering Long-Term Success

Long-term success in your creative life isn’t just about overcoming resistance once; it’s about building a sustainable system that supports your ongoing battle. Nurture motivation by reminding yourself of the larger purpose behind your work. Create a vision board or jot down reasons why you’re committed to this journey. When you face blocks, recall personal anecdotes of past triumphs over resistance to reinforce that you can push through. Finally, pair your commitment with regular reflection to adjust your strategies and ensure they align with your evolving goals.

  • Goal Setting: Break down your long-term aspirations into achievable milestones.
  • Reflective Practices: Regularly review your progress and adapt your approach as needed.
  • Community Support: Engage with a supportive community that encourages and celebrates your successes.

Critiques and Praise

In this section, you’ll discover a balanced view of “The War of Art” through various reviews and learn about the book’s significance on its audience and society as a whole.

Analyzing Reviews

Positive Reviews:

  • Inspiration: Many reviewers praise Steven Pressfield’s work as profoundly inspiring, particularly noting its power to combat creative blocks and encourage persistence.
  • Practical Advice: The strategies for overcoming “Resistance” are often highlighted as actionable and empowering, guiding you to achieve your creative goals.


  • While “The War of Art” is celebrated for its motivational qualities, some critique is directed at its repetitive nature, with a few readers suggesting that its message could be condensed.

The Impact on Readers and Society

  • Contribution to Readers: You may find that “The War of Art” acts as a catalyst for change by challenging you to tackle procrastination and fear, essential hurdles in personal and professional creativity.
  • Recognition in Society: This book has garnered attention for its compelling message, earning recognition within various creative communities and often being referred to as a ‘must-read’ for anyone pursuing a creative life.
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