The War Of Art

Steven Pressfield

I love this book. It’s easy to read, yet incredibly profound. Don’t be put off by the cover, which makes you think this is all about clearing writer’s block. It has a far wider application.

If You Only Have 10 Minutes, Read This Part…

The chapter right near the start called The Unlived Life (no page numbers here)
Life and Death (p132)
Experiencing The Self (p139)

What’s Good About This Book?

This book highlights the real work of changing habits. That work is all about dealing with Resistance.
This is another way of describing Sabotage You – in fact, you could read the whole thing and replace the word Resistance with ‘Sabotage You’.
Pressfield gets us to move our focus from the sugar we are attempting to remove from our diet, or the desire to stay in bed instead of exercise.
He then puts that focus onto the mechanism within us that is trying to stop us making these powerful changes. The sugar/desire to stay in bed has no power of its own…it’s what lies behind it that we need to pay attention to.
I love the way he links Resistance to the ego, and overcoming Resistance to connecting to your true purpose in life. He frames this as artistic expression, but let’s take it further and see this as connecting to God, Allah, Buddha, The Divine – or whatever your belief system says is beyond the here and now. (I was raised an atheist, and so the idea of a God outside myself will always be problematic for me. If this is you,then you may like to think in terms of your core self, or that which is not broken)
So getting up and doing that 10 minute session with the weights, or turning and walking away from the addictive food becomes an heroic quest to break free from the ego and connect to The Self – as he calls it. So few people around you are doing this, and when I read this book I felt a great sense of relief and was inspired because here was someone who could describe this movement from ego to my core self better than I could. I felt less lonely in my heroic quest.

What’s Not So Good About It?

The answer for you may be “Nothing. This book is perfect.”
It depends on how you see the world.
Pressfield offers us the idea of ‘turning pro’ as the philosophy behind moving from ego to The Self. See yourself as being in the elite. Raise your standards and don’t take any crap from your sabotage self.
Push through it and defeat Resistance.
This sort of thinking works incredibly well for many – but not all – men because it taps into masculine energy (if we have not discussed this in coaching, let me know and I can explain).
However, as a woman, it doesn’t work so well for me. I’m much more about connecting to my Sabotage Self/Resistance and saying to her “Let’s risk that mortally dangerous walk/business meeting/date”. Accepting this harpie within me instead of casting her out…so she becomes powerless, like a bigoted and racist but essentially harmless old granny in a rocking chair at the back of my mind.
The War of Art, like so many books, describes eloquently the REAL problem of eating and weight issues: it’s not the tempting food that’s the problem, it’s the part of us that wants to use that inanimate object as a way to live a diminished life.
And Pressfield does it so beautifully.
This alone is worth your time reading this book.
What do you think? Did you feel less lonely reading it? Did you feel more connected to The Self after reading it? Does ‘turning pro’ work as an idea for you?
There are no rights or wrongs here – only food for your soul.