6 Reasons Why THE WAR OF ART is the Best Book for Filmmakers and Screenwriters
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Bill Duke: There is a great book that I recommend to people. It’s by Steven Pressfield and it’s called THE WAR OF ART. It’s one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It helped changed my life, THE WAR OF ART.
Patrick Shen: I love…what’s his name? Steven…do you guys know the book THE WAR OF ART? Is it Steven Pressfield? Pressfield, right?
Jay Duplass: I do love THE WAR OF ART. That’s the one book that I love.
“It helped to change my life”
UCLA Screenwriting Chair Richard Walter: THE WAR OF ART…it’s a play on THE ART OF WAR.
Michael LaPointe: THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield, it’s a book…it’s not a book on screenwriting. It’s a book on getting things done.
“In order to beat writer’s block, you simply have to continue writing. And you write each and every day.”
Patrick Shen: I love THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield. That has a great prescription for getting through writer’s block. You know you can sort of pull from that to apply to any sort of challenge that you’re meeting along the production phase. And his advice you know, the bottom line is, in order to beat writer’s block, you simply have to continue writing. And you write each and every day. And the only way around it is to go through it.
“And the only way around it is to go through it.”
Michael LaPointe: Do the work as in sit down and physically do the work. And then the rest of the book kind of talks about fears and how to get past that but through the lens of if you just do the work your fears will go away or at least shrink, which is true because doing something builds confidence and confidence builds ambition.
UCLA Screenwriting Chair Richard Walter: And it’s a pamphlet, it’s a very light piece. You could read it while you’re waiting for the light to change. But it’s brilliant. It is brilliant. Pressfield, what he calls it is resistance. There is this resistance sitting there and you just have to face it and do it. And you have to face it and you just have to do it and you have stop trying to like it.
“There is this resistance sitting there and you just have to face it and do it.”
Jay Duplass: I don’t subscribe to screenwriting gurus because most of them have not written great screenplays. I do love THE WAR OF ART, it’s the one book that I love (Steve Pressfield). And I don’t think it’s a coincidence. He’s a good screenwriter. He’s one of the few who has written great things. But to me it’s not about form and it’s not about teaching you how to do it. It’s more about inspiring you and getting you unstuck. And I think that book has been super helpful to me.
“It’s more about inspiring you and getting you unstuck.”
UCLA Screenwriting Chair Richard Walter: He’s gone over the notes. He’s thought everything through and he’s about to start the actual rewrite and he’s just miserable contemplating actually getting into the actual re-write. And I said to him “I’m glad to hear it.” Why am I glad to hear that he is miserable? Because he’s telling me about the experiences a real writer would have. Only an amateur (Pressfield would say it this way) would say that she or he can’t wait to get into the rewrite, is delighted contemplating getting up in the morning and working on that script. The contrary is the case, dreading it.
Michael LaPointe: It’s definitely…if you are in any kind of creative field, you’re stuck, even if you’re not stuck and you are just starting out, it’s would probably be more beneficial to you than the standard screenwriting book that is going to tell you how to do screenwriting but not really tell you how to be creative, which is like a big thing. There is all these books on how to manually do screenwriting, how to break down a movie into a 3-act structure, how do you write a 3-act structure movie, how do you do The Hero’s Journey? There is very little on how you psychically do it. There is very little (this is obviously a very personal opinion)…the two most important parts of filmmaking are creativity and originality. And there are very little books on that. You know there are kind of books in the art vein of how do you be original? But there is very little on filmmaking and all that. And that is what we admire about filmmaking. There are great movies that are 3-act structure Hollywood movies that nobody really likes and there are things…like BEAST OF THE SOUTHERN WILD that is something which is very original. That is something that people respond to. So it’s kind of odd that there is so many books on this one subject and so little on something that matters so much (to me…it’s a personal opinion) about filmmaking.
“Only an amateur (according to Pressfield) would say that she or he can’t wait to get into the rewrite, is delighted contemplating getting up in the morning and working on that script. The contrary is the case, dreading it.”
UCLA Screenwriting Chair Richard Walter: The real writers hate to write. All writers that are serious writers, they don’t like to write. We love having written, but actually writing is always painful “Is it good enough? I thought yesterday what I did was…now I’m re-reading it and it’s not as good as I’m remembering it. And it’s very frustrating. Do I dare show this to anybody? How can I expect people to (in exchange for this) give me money so that I can put orthodontia on my children’s teeth and so forth?
This guy said to me it was such a liberation to read that…for him to read that all writers hate to write and to discover that he’s not the only one that doesn’t leap from his bed in the morning…you know…with bells on, eager beyond description to get into his writing. No. We all want to put it off, delay it, defer it, it’s that way for everybody.
Question for the Viewers: Have you read Steven Pressfield’s THE WAR OF ART?