Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: The War of Art

September 2020

"The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win your Inner Creative Battles" by Steven Pressfield 

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 

Have any hobbies that you want to elevate into committed pursuits? Need permission to take your passions seriously? Pressfield's inspiring and motivating guide to creativity, War of Art, is the call to action you've been waiting for. Pressfield delves into the inner conflicts that keep us from achieving our creative and entrepreneurial goals. Using the "War of Art" anecdote to demonstrate the struggle of force of will required to push through what hinders your growth, Pressfield encourages readers to push for their goals and explains the mindset and deeds required to do so. 

Three takeaways:

  1. You will face resistance. The nearly universal feelings which prevent you from striving for distant goals is a resistance that haunts people through subtle discouragement and restraint. Resistance is the enemy that we all fight, manifested in fear, procrastination and self-doubt. Everyone fights it, don't let it be your excuse.

  2. Seriously Commit to your goals. Pressfield assures readers that treating your goals casually deters you from facing them seriously and overcoming resistance. Treat your dream as a full time job. Stop treating it like a hobby. Can't wait for inspiration to come?  Schedule it and do it. 

  3. Find your Territory.  Pressfield outlines "the Territory" as the realm of influence in which you hope to create your work and emerge yourself. At first, your territory may not initially appear to be clearly defined. Identify what consists of "your territory" by considering the following 3 things: 

    1. It makes you feel better every time you go
    2. You can become king of the hill by hard work 
    3. There are endless possibilities how much you get back 

Pressfield advises readers that hard work, that sometimes it is truly sheer force of will. This means treating your hobby like a full-time job, committing to a routine, as well as figure out what sort of mental tricks will best help you defeat resistance. Pressfield also notes that you need to get in touch with what you actually want to be doing, by identifying and committing to your "territory" and  trusting your inner "muse" to provide inspiration and guidance, often in the form of dreams and other meditations. 


Steven Pressfield (born September, 1943) is an American author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays. Pressfield was an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital, fruit-picker in Washington state, and screenwriter. His struggles to make a living as an author, including the period when he was homeless and living out of the back of his car, are detailed in his book The War of Art.