Month: May 2013


By Shawn Coyne | 12 Comments

If I were only allowed to give one piece of advice about line-by-line writing (constructing sentences one after the other), it would be this:  Be specific. To write well is to be clear, to choose language that best suits your message. To accomplish both of these tasks (clarity of word choice to beget laser focus on a central idea) requires specificity. It just does. Obviously if you have no keen understanding of what it is you want to convey to a reader before you begin writing, you’ll have difficulty being specific. In fact you’ll have difficulty writing anything. If I…

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Put Ass Where Heart Wants 2 B, Part 2

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

I was reading an article about Twlya Tharp, the renowned dancer and choreographer of Push Comes to Shove and many more—and the author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. The article said that every morning Twyla emerges at six A.M. from her New York apartment building (my apologies to Ms. Tharp if I get any of these details wrong) and catches a cab to her dance studio, where she starts her day’s work. Here’s what I immediately thought: I’d love to set up a video camera across the street from Ms. Tharp’s building, pointing directly…

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Who Owns—And How Are Artists Paid For—Art?

By Callie Oettinger | 26 Comments

Who Owns the Art? If ideas arrive on the wings of Muses, God, or whatever divine creator you believe in, does the final art belong to the artist or to that divine creator? I believe in the Muse. I believe that she arrives, laden with ideas, upon that “thunderous train of air” Elizabeth Gilbert described when she talked about poet Ruth Stone: It would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and…

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The Free Agent Mindset, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

The artist’s mindset has always been that of the free agent. The painter, writer or filmmaker by definition can only follow her own vision. She has to know (or teach herself) how to be self-defining, self-motivating, self-reinforcing, self-validating. And yet artists have always run in schools. Paris in the 20s, Rome in the late 50s and early 60s, New York any time. I wish I had been part of a school. I once went to Paris and did nothing but ride the metro to the places Hemingway had mentioned in his short stories and in A Moveable Feast. I would’ve…

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The Courage to do Nothing

By Shawn Coyne | 13 Comments

If you‘re like me, you want to clear your desk every night before you head home. You want to make sure that anything that might impair you that evening at home is off the to-do list and out of your mind. Then you’ll be able to relax without having unresolved work issues hanging over your head. Now this is a very good strategy to rid you of repetitive paperwork/accounting/office management. But it can be the death knell for creative work. Forcing yourself into making a decision about a particular project just to get it off your desk will bite you…

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The Free-Agent Mindset

By Steven Pressfield | 32 Comments

What is the Macro Change that’s going on in the world today? As fish never realize they’re swimming in water, is there something happening all around us that’s so apparent that we can’t see it? I think there is, and here’s how I’d define it: We—meaning anybody now living in the globalized/digital/satellite-linked/worldwide-web world—are faced with the challenge and obligation to make a primal shift in consciousness. This shift is as cosmic, I believe, as the transition from illiteracy to literacy in the Gutenberg era, from farm to factory in the days of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and all the post-Industrial Age…

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Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose and Sometimes it Rains

By Callie Oettinger | 13 Comments

The story of David and Goliath is one of history’s greatest reruns—played out on repeat in books and boardrooms and battlefields. Big Guy goes after Little Guy. Little Guy finds inner strength. Little Guy taps into inner strength. Little Guy fights Big Guy. Big Guy falters. Little Guy knocks Big Guy’s lights out. The David and Goliath story is the story of the “win.” Think Luke against Darth Vader, Daniel Larusso against the entire Cobra Kai dojo, and pretty much any Disney classic (insert any princess or talking animal against any evil witch or demented talking animal here.). The opposite—the…

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Self-Doubt and Self-Reinforcement

By Steven Pressfield | 35 Comments

[The blog is on vacation this week. Herewith an “encore presentation” of a fave from the past:] I never talk about a project I’m working on. It’s bad luck. But something happened a few nights ago that made me think I should make an exception, both for the sake of my own thinking and for sharing an insight or two. So I’ll keep depiction of the project vague but the wisdom as clear as I can make it. I was at a professional event with a friend who, each time he introduced me to a new acquaintance, described and made…

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Getting Screwed is a Compliment

By Shawn Coyne | 7 Comments

Obviously, Steve and I are not Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. We’re just average Joes with average business acumen. So sometimes we get short-sticked. Someone reaches out to one of us and we like the Chutzpah and ideas presented so we pull the other one into the hare-brained scheme. Now one of the principles that Black Irish Books was founded on, I think the only one, is that we will dissolve the whole kit and caboodle the second one of us isn’t having any fun. I don’t me “whoohoo” fun. I mean “you know this is pretty cool coming up…

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“In the End, We’ll Succeed”

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

Not long ago I took a wilderness trek with an old friend who had been the commander of a Recon company in the army. We were out in the boonies for five days, with no check-ins with civilization. I had never done this kind of thing before and I noticed two things: One, my friend was completely confident of our whereabouts at all times. Two, we were lost at least half the time. A phrase kept re-appearing in my friend’s conversation: “In the end, we’ll succeed.” At first I didn’t pick up on this theme, but after the twentieth time…

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