On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield are two books that are essential reading for anyone who wants to become a better writer or to get the most out of their creative endeavors. Both books offer practical advice and inspiration to help writers overcome the obstacles that can get in the way of their success.
On Writing is a memoir of King’s life as a writer, interwoven with lessons and tips on how to become a better writer. King provides a wealth of knowledge on the writing process, including his beliefs on what makes a great story, how to develop characters, and how to revise work. He also shares his own personal struggles with writing, including his battle with addiction and how it affected his writing.
King emphasizes the importance of setting aside time for writing every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. He also encourages writers to read widely, to be observant of the world around them, and to pay attention to the details that can bring a story to life. He stresses the importance of self-discipline and perseverance, as well as the need to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
The War of Art
In The War of Art, Pressfield takes a different approach, focusing on the inner battles that artists and writers face on their journey to creating great work. He identifies these battles as “Resistance,” which can take many forms, including procrastination, self-doubt, and the fear of failure. I enjoyed how Pressfield personified Resistance, as it helped me identify it as a force that I can “talk to” and that it is a natural part of the creative process, not just something that I struggle with individually. 
One of the key themes of both On Writing and The War of Art is the importance of persistence and determination. King and Pressfield both emphasize that success as a writer is not about innate talent, but rather about the ability to put in the hard work and time necessary to become a great writer. They encourage writers to be patient, to stick with their writing even when it’s difficult, and to never give up on their dreams.
Another important theme in both books is the idea that writing is a craft that can be learned and honed over time. King provides practical tips on how to develop your writing skills, and Pressfield argues that the key to improving as a writer is to continually challenge yourself and push the boundaries of your comfort zone.
When I attended Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead training a few years ago, I was encouraged to identify my personal values based on a list she provided. The two that rose to the top for me were creativity and freedom. Writing has always been a primary channel for me to incorporate these values into my life. The problem is that in some ways these values compete with my goals of making a difference in this world, because I also need commitment and consistent habits to balance the creativity and freedom I long to express. This is my own personal “Resistance” that I’m learning to overcome. In this sense, the doctoral program has been a blessing because the deadlines are forcing me find a rhythm that works.
On Writing and The War of Art are two must-read books for anyone who wants to become a better writer or to get the most out of their creative endeavors. Both books offer practical advice, inspiration, and encouragement to help writers overcome the obstacles that can get in the way of their success. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, these books will provide you with the tools and insights you need to achieve your writing goals.
 King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Reissue edition. Scribner, 2020.
 Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Edited by Shawn Coyne. 47716th edition. New York, NY, Los Angeles: Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2012.