Month: January 2013

All Breakthroughs come with a Fever

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

I first came upon this concept in the writings of Laurens van der Post, the great South African. Are you familiar with him? He wrote one of my favorite books, The Seed and the Sower. The following comes from The Lost World of the Kalahari: It has sometimes appeared to me that fever is designed, in part, to magnify reality, so that the imponderable contribution of the spirit to the malaise which produces fever, can become visible. There seems to be deep within it a rounding-up process of time which brings past, present, and future all lucidly together in the…

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No One Cares

By Shawn Coyne | 14 Comments

The other night at dinner, I was asked how one might become a writer who makes his living with a big six publisher. Not a flavor of the month big deal first novel writer, nor a blockbuster bestselling novelist, but a blue collar, book a year, kind of writer. Writers that used to be referred to derogatorily as “midlist.” The ones who once were a vital part of the business. I stumbled around the question and didn’t really answer it. Like anyone else, I like to think of my world and career in very stable terms. Keep your eye on…

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“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

By Steven Pressfield | 39 Comments

We were talking last week about stakes and jeopardy. It is critical in any story, I was saying, that the stakes for all characters be as high as possible—preferably life and death. There’s a further aspect to stakes/jeopardy that might be worth exploring this week. The stakes in a story should always be on-theme. Lemme digress for a minute. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering, “Is this subject of interest?” It is to me, but I’m wondering if getting into such nuts-and-bolts detail about storytelling is only tedious to readers who log onto this blog. Am I boring you with…

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It’s Nella From France

By Callie Oettinger | 18 Comments

I was upset when I read the title of Steve’s Writing Wednesday column the week before last: “Opportunities Are Bullshit.” My thought process ran this route: Really, Steve? There have been tons of great opportunities. What about that interview with Mark McGuinness that just went up? Wasn’t it an opportunity? Or not? When you have an interview with someone you’ve gotten to know as a friend, is it less an opportunity and more a chill session with friends, something above commercialism? No. Not it. Hanging with friends is an opportunity. I rarely get to chill with mine. Hanging with Mark…

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“Have a Body Hit the Floor”

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

A few weeks back, we were talking about this tidbit of wisdom from screenwriter Jack Epps: “You can’t do everything in one draft.” The corollary, we said, is to focus on only one aspect of your manuscript/screenplay/videogame at a time. One aspect per draft. Today let’s talk about stakes. (Ideally you and I should have thought deeply about this before we even started Draft #1. But let’s be real. Most of us plunge in and swim like hell for the far shore. So maybe we need to regroup for Drafts #2 through #15 and revisit certain essentials.) What are “stakes”…

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“Eternity is in Love with the Creations of Time”

By Shawn Coyne | 10 Comments

I only know Richard Ben Cramer from his work. But is there any better way? Yes, he was a highly regarded journalist and had that newspaperman countenance of one perfectly suited to live behind the mask of a byline. Pretty people just can’t write like the crooked toothed and wild haired. But what made him a one man sales hook (It’s like Richard Ben Cramer…) among those of us who make our living inside of the very catty world of east coast book publishing was his guts. You see, old school journalists—and Cramer was one of the great ones in…

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Opportunities Are Bullshit

By Steven Pressfield | 33 Comments

Have you seen this clip from Harlan Ellison, the screenwriter? I rank it up there with Josh Olson’s all-time great rant, “No, I Won’t Read Your F*#king Screenplay.” What Ellison says is that anytime he has done anything for “exposure,” he has totally wasted his time. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes “opportunities” are presented to us. A chance to get our work exposed. People will see. It’ll make a difference. We’ll advance the brand. Bullshit. Almost every opportunity I’ve been exposed to (not all, be it said) is an opportunity for the promoter, not for me. I’m expendable. I’m interchangeable.…

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This Isn’t About Rita Hayworth

By Callie Oettinger | 6 Comments

Screenwriter and director Frank Darabont “received solicitations from several actresses about playing the lead” in the film Shawshank Redemption, an adaptation of the Stephen King story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. They read the title of the story and thought it featured Rita Hayworth as the lead. A publicist’s book package ended up in the hands of Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten—ten years ago. A decade later, I still remember reading the column he wrote about it. Following the death of Kenneth Lay, Businessweek received a press release that used Lay’s death as a pitching platform.

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Committed to What?

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

We’ve been talking about depth of commitment for three weeks now. But one question has not yet been asked: What exactly are we committed to? Is it our art, our career, our family, our nation? Lemme take the long way around by flashing back to an earlier era in my own life. For years I was committed to nothing. I mean nothing. I suppose if you tied me to a tree and threatened to bayonet me, I would’ve tried to talk you out of it. But even that, my own life, I wasn’t particularly committed to. I was bored a…

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