Friday, 6 June 2008

The War Of Art - Steven Pressfield

Of the myriad books produced for writers there are few that I would recommend. This is one of the few. And the reason is simple. It addresses a real problem faced by anyone engaged in a creative process and it offers solutions. They may not work for everyone, but they are sufficiently fundamental to make this a book worth reading.

It does not concern itself with elements of style or how to get an agent; it isn’t worried about how you format your work or what software you should be using. It goes to the very core and looks at the inner demon (or whatever you want to call it) that prevent us from working. It offers ways of combating that demon. Although, in the end, the author is realistic enough to point out that in the end it is down to the will power of the individual.

This is a sharp book, tightly written, insightful without waffle and, at times, downright earthy. The author says what he has to with real economy using short chapters that go straight to the heart of things. It does not ramble and it is not dressed up with pseudo-psychological statements. Which does not mean the author is talking piffle. Indeed, this is the common sense that is not so common. It spoke directly to me as a writer, clarified my thoughts, and gave me to think about and plenty to act upon.

If you have tried to embark on any long-term project that derives from what one might call your higher nature and have had trouble getting started (or trouble finishing), read this book. Think about what it says. Then get on with it.