Review of the War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The war of art cover

“The enemy of the artist is the small-time Ego, which begets Resistance, which is the dragon that guards the gold. That’s why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artists over time acquire modesty and humility.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Don’t be fooled by the size of Steven Pressfield’s gem of a book, “The War of Art.” While may be a small book, it is chock full of big and valuable ideas. This is a book for creatives and for whom their creativity is a passion: writers, artists, musicians, sculptors, dancers, actors/actresses, photographers – whatever passion fires you up and gets you excited.

This book takes you on a journey to battle against what Pressfield calls “The Resistance”, which he states “is the most toxic force on the planet.” So what is this Resistance? Resistance is inertia, that force which prevents us from doing the work we were meant to do. It is that which makes us say, “I don’t think I’ll work today. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.” It’s that force that makes us tell ourselves, “What’s the use. My manuscript is crap. My work stinks. I’m just not cut out to be a writer. I wonder who’s on Facebook?” Pressfield asks us:

“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”

And what’s worse, is that Resistance only shows itself when you do something that really matters to you – all the more reason to combat it any way we can. For an excellent example of the of Resistance operates, Pressfield says:

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.

“Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.

“Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.”

In the War of Art, Pressfield teaches us how to take even the most stubborn and tempting Resistances (such as those excuses we tell ourselves when we don’t want to do our work) and blow them to pieces. Using the war metaphor, we learn how to battle this unseen foe, but in order to do this we first need to recognize and know our enemy – and he shows us how to do so. He also reminds us that Resistance wants to take us down the easy road and wants us to just work hard enough to get by. But as Pressfield states:

“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.

“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work”

The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is a person’s ability to stomp on and crush Resistance, which tends to slam us extra hard as we near the end of a project, when we are close to completing our work. In each of these short-and-to-the-point chapters, Pressfield offers a prescription to combat this enemy by getting into the nitty-gritty of all those things that hold us back, those things that tell us we’re just not quite good enough.

The tips in this book help us to recognize and destroy the inner naysayer (which Julia Cameron and others call the “Inner Critic”) and instead, shows us how to go pro, for it is in going pro that we banish our enemy.

While reading this book, it made me personally aware of all the “junk” that was holding me back and made me face my own excuses head on. You won’t find 12-steps, chapter exercises or required journaling in this book. What you will find are no-nonsense methods for finishing your work and getting it out into the world, overcoming and smashing to bits those blocks that hold you back, defeating the negative self-talk in our heads and unblocking the barriers to our creativity. This book will certainly make you more aware of when Resistance digs its sharp claws into you and holds on for dear life.

While topic of Resistance is complex and certainly not a light one, Pressfield presents his ideas in a friendly, conversational manner, which renders the book not only approachable but also enjoyable.

If you’re looking to break through your own creative blocks or simply need some motivation, you can’t do much better than The War of Art: Break Through Your Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Recommended!

You can check out the book HERE.

Review of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth

Freaks shall inherit the earth book cover

I’ve read a lot of business book over the years but none have them have stayed with me like Chris Brogan’s The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Now some might be put off by the term freaks but Chris explains that being a freak is a good thing. He defines a freak as someone who does things their own way and who doesn’t necessarily “fit in” without some effort. It’s someone who does not do business the way the rules dictate and who is not a fan of settling or compromising. It’s doing business on your own terms and, as Chris puts it, “You’re looking for ways to allow your weirdness to be an asset and not the deficit that people have tried to convince you it is.”

The tone of the book is casual and conversational – it feels as though you’re chatting with the author over a cup of coffee at a local cafe. But don’t let its informality fool you – there are a plethora of valuable gems in this book that can help you in your business and personal life, regardless of whether you’re a new entrepreneur, someone who works a day job, or a seasoned businessperson.

He starts about by defining what business is and then covers such topics as how fear can mess up your business, how to schedule your workday, how to overcome obstacles and challenges, why community and connection is important, and how to build your own media empire, just to name a few.

One of my favorite chapters was the Creating Systems That Work for You chapter, in which he talked about establishing a compass – five to seven reminders that you need to focus on daily. He provides an example of his own compass and how he incorporates it into his business as part of his system. By creating a compass myself, I have become more focused on the important things and am accomplishing much more than previously.

I found the chapter entitled Structure a Framework for Your Days to be life-changing and after reading it, my entire attitude on goal-setting changed. His helpful A Daily Framework table provides an excellent starting point and can help keep you on track in both your business life and personal life.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is not only for entrepreneurs. A good majority of the information can be used even if you are employed by someone else, regardless of whether or not you plan on staring your own business down the road. Moreover, he dedicates an entire chapter to the topic which he entitled “Are You an Employeepreneur?” He defines and employeepreneur as “someone who has a job in a company, but is executing it like an owner”. In this chapter, Chris provides information how to excel at your day job and finding ways to accomplish your work goals. Lots of excellent stuff here.

The book is not just theory like so many business books out there but rather provides actionable tools to get you going. It also provides help to overcome those obstacles and pitfalls that inevitably appear in any business.

The book contains the following chapters (each of wish is broken down into several subsections):

  • Business New and Old and New Again
  • The Wild Colors and the Solid Spine
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Defining Success
  • Skill Building for Your Business Goals
  • Fall in Love with Not Knowing
  • Structure a Framework for Your Days
  • Are You an Employeepreneur?
  • Create Systems That Work for You
  • Are You a Solo or Small Business Owner?
  • Fall in Love with Not Knowing, Redux
  • Worship Obstacles and Challenges
  • Build Your Own Media Empire
  • Connect with Your Freaks
  • Own Everything
  • What It All Goes Wrong
  • Take Action! Fight Crime! Save the World!

If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, are a business person who tends to approach their business more unconventionally than others (or would like to) or are simply looking for some invaluable business tips, tricks, gems, tools and practical advice, then The Freaks Who Inherit the Earth is definitely worth a read. Recommended!

You can check out the book HERE

Review of Secret (Elementals)

Secret book cover

We’ve already seen life through the eyes of the elementals Chris, Gabriel, and Hunter. In the latest book in the Elemental series, Secret, it’s finally Nick’s turn to tell his story – and a complicated one, it is. Nick certainly ended up being a much more complex character than I had originally thought.

Now I will warn you upfront – this is one of those books that is very difficult to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting, staying up until almost dawn. Hmm..I remember that happening the last time I read a book in the Elemental series.

Nick has a Secret

Nick is the good twin, the reasonable one, the well-behaved one. But he has a secret….a HUGE secret that is eating him alive so much so that’s he’s broken. He is crippled by stress, worried sick, can’t sleep and, although once being a star A student, is now flunking exams at school.

Since Nick’s secret was revealed in Breathless, I’m not giving away any spoilers when I tell you what that secret is: He is struggling with his sexuality and is having one hell of a time coming to terms with his attraction to Quinn’s dancing partner, Adam – and Adam’s attraction to him.

But how is Nick supposed to “come out” in a testosterone-filled household of his three brothers and Hunter, a former guide? And moreover, how will Gabriel, his macho, volatile twin brother react if – or when – he finds out?

And So Does Quinn

In this book, we delve a little more into the world of Quinn who is Nick’s pretend girlfriend. I really warmed up to Quinn in this novel and loved the fact that the author presented her story as sort of a sub-story to Nick’s.

Her world is falling apart quickly and her home life goes from bad to worse to deadly. Being the saucy, snarky young lady that she is, she tells nobody about her predicament, determined to manage on her own – except the fact that she’s spending nights out in the woods, too afraid to go home.

But help does come….and from the arms of a most unlikely source, much to the chagrin of the Merricks.

Adam Has Secrets Too

While Nick is trying to come to terms with his feelings for Adam, we learn that Adam has a dark, disturbing past of his own and is still trying to come to terms with it….and not always very successfully. One bad decision on Nick’s part tears Adam away from him and their budding relationship ends before it barely begins. Can Nick fix it? Or are Adam and Nick both too emotionally messed up?

And Then There’s the Guide

What would be the point of an Elemental book if there wasn’t somebody out trying to kill the Merrick boys? In that aspect, this book doesn’t disappoint. Right in the midst of everyone’s home and personal drama, a new guide comes to town and he’s worse than the last one (remember Shadow?). He’s ruthless, unfeeling and completely detached from humanity – and he won’t rest until each and every one of the Merrick’s are dead.

The Verdict

The author did a masterful job in her characterizations, plot development, attention to detail as well as illustrating the complicated relationships between the characters. This novel just isn’t about a bad man* trying to kill the Merrick brothers. It also touches on matters of self-discovery, friendship, brotherhood, family dynamics, judgement of others, using others and even romance.

Secret is a solid, fast moving, emotional roller-coaster of a story. If you haven’t yet read this series, start out with Spark, told from Nick’s twin brother Gabriel’s point of view. If you’ve read all of the other Elemental novels, then this one is not to be missed. This might be my favorite Elemental novel thus far, although I enjoyed all of them immensely.

Recommended!

Weekly Roundup – March 15, 2014

Image of Lion at Como Zoom

This is my “Saturday Roundup” post where I wrap up the week’s events. provide links to some interesting posts that I came across on the Web during the week and perhaps even throw in a photo or two.

On a Personal Level…

I once again stuck to my writing goal of 2,000 words a day – a continuous streak since January 1st. Being that we are still in the full throes of winter here in Wisconsin, I had no problem with productivity – too darn cold to do much of anything else! So I’m working my butt off this winter with the hopes of slowing down a bit when summer finally makes an appearance.

This week, I completed the third book in my new series featuring sixteen year-old Nick, a high school tarot card reader who can see ghosts – and have begun outlining the fourth novel in the series. I’ve also made quite a bit of progress editing the second draft of the first book. Getting closer and close to publication.

Was hoping to see the new Wes Anderson movie “Grand Budapest Hotel” but it has still not made it to Milwaukee. It’s been out in other cities for over a week already. I’ll be bummed if it doesn’t make it here.

On the Web

Andrew Sullivan posted a short video of Edward Snowden speaking to a South by Southwest audience via Google Hangout, during which he stressed the need for consumers to start encrypting their data, which led to an interesting discussion on the blog. Snowden also Skyped into South by Southwest. You can watch the hour long video HERE.

If you enjoy photography, then you might want to check out these 50 Photography Quotes to Inspire You, posted at the Petapixel blog.

Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva did an experiment during which he asked 20 complete strangers to make out. See the video HERE

Another film by a Seattle artist memorializes his gay grandfather who came out at 90.

Are you a Golden Girls fan? This week, the Towleroad blog posted some of the best gay moments from the Golden Girls. It was fun to see these clips again.

I also came across an interested video in which a photographer tried to get a video of a supposed cougar in urban Hollywood. He succeeds.

Feeling stuck in your writing? Then check out [Alexandra Franzen’s post](http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2014/03/02/what-should-i-write-about/] featuring 33 prompts get your writing going again.

If you’re looking for reasonably priced cloud storage, then you might be interested to learn Google has slashed the cost of Google Drive to $2.99 a month for 100 gig. That might be the cheapest cloud storage I’ve seen.

Microsoft also was in the news this week. Come spring, the company will begin offering a Personal Office 365 subscription for $6.95 a month.

Kevin Truong is the creator of The Gay Men Project, his own idea to photograph as many gay men as he possibly can all over the world. Great into video to the project – looking forward to seeing a lot more from him.

From the Cape Gazette come a unique take on an obituary. This guy had a great sense of humor!

Are feeling a tad needy? Then you might want to check out Leo Babauta’s article entitled Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant

And for a good chuckle, check out this video during which two gay dad’s meet the neighborhood “oversharer”. Warning: Not family friendly or for those with a prudish disposition.

And…that’s a wrap!