Saturday 24 July 2010

Review: The War of Art

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a 4-start book until near the end, when Pressfield sets up what I consider a false opposition between creating for an audience and being true to yourself. We don't consider J.S. Bach a lesser artist for having produced his works for patrons, do we?

The War of Art was published before the idea of "1000 true fans" gained currency - a group of people who are, in effect, your patrons, who you create your material for and who, in turn, will buy pretty much anything from you. I wonder if Pressfield would still make such a strong dichotomy and cling so hard to the Romantic myth of the loner artist who produces brilliant work that often isn't appreciated by the masses. The modern reality (which the publishing industry needs to embrace, or it's doomed), is that there's no future in making things at random and firing them out at an uncomprehended public in the hope that they'll like one for some inscrutable reason, and buy enough copies to compensate for all the failures. Being in touch with your audience is just as important as being in touch with yourself, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

The earlier part of the book, though, on overcoming resistance, is excellent and worthwhile, and I do recommend it.

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