Getting Ready for the Bigs

It took me thirty years to get my first novel published. Along the way I wrote three other full-length novels (and about thirty screenplays), each of which took two years of full-time work and none of which made the cut. A few years ago I took those early book-attempts down from the shelf and looked them over, wondering if they might be worth resuscitating.

Bull Durham

Crash Davis to Nuke Laloosh: "Kid, you've got a million-dollar arm and a ten-cent head ..."

Answer: arrrrggggh!

They were not ready then, and they’re not ready now.

What makes something ready for the Big Leagues? How long do we have to languish in the minors before we break through? What does it take to get over the hump?

I suspect that no few of the readers of this blog find themselves in that exact same spot.

What’s missing?

What’s the final piece to the puzzle?

I’ve just finished a long-form piece that addresses this specific issue. This is the piece I’ve been talking about over the past few weeks in posts about “The Foolscap Method” and about “Going from Unpublishable to Publishable.”

The material is not theoretical. It’s nuts and bolts. It comes from my own experience with my own first published novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance—how the book came together, what set it apart from failed stuff that went before, etc.

We’re rolling out this piece in segments, starting today. It’ll be published not here on the blog (it’s way too long for a blog post) but sent via e-mail to everyone who signs up.

The first two sections of this roll-out feature ten-minute videos about the Foolscap Method (I’ve been mentioning these in this space over the past couple of weeks) with an extra goodie or two thrown in. After you enter your e-mail address, the first video will appear in your Inbox in about an hour.

I promise: no spam or B.S. now or in the future. And lots of interesting long-form stuff (like Shawn’s The Story Grid) coming in the months ahead.

The Foolscap Method is an organizing technique for writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. I learned it about thirty years ago from my great friend and mentor Norman Stahl, who taught it to me over a cheeseburger at Joe Allen’s in New York. The Foolscap Method is the best system I’ve ever encountered for breaking the logjam of Resistance at the start of a project. It’s also an unbeatable way to pull yourself out of a hole halfway through, when you’re climbing the walls and talking to yourself as you stumble down the street.

Learning to use this technique took me from being an amateur to being a pro. (Of course, no one said it was easy.) But it’s free. It’s simple. And it works.

My thanks to everyone for being patient with us on the blog as we’ve worked out (we hope) the tech bugs for this roll-out. This is new stuff for us. It’s exciting, and I hope it helps all our homies struggling like us in the trenches.

Watch the video for details or sign up please and let’s get rolling!


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1


A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Takis on September 4, 2013 at 1:28 am

    can’t wait to see it!!

  2. Basilis on September 4, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Excited as Takis and also curious…
    I find this way of “delivery” of the videos very intriguing.
    So now, we will have to wait and see what is it all about.
    And return to comments for more …comments!

  3. kp on September 4, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Great video, Mr. Pressfield. Thanks so much.

    For something as epic as Gates of Fire, did you go straight from foolscap to draft, or was there an intermediate planning stage?

    • Steven Pressfield on September 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Dear kp,

      Yes, of course, MAJOR intermediate planning. But the Foolscap came first.

  4. Stacy Chambers on September 4, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Hey Steve, thanks for including a full transcript of the video. Those of us who don’t hear well sure appreciate it!

  5. Natalieahart on September 4, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Thank you so much for your generosity. Also, a huge thank you for including a transcript for each of these videos. I don’t like watching videos; I prefer to read. So I appreciate the extra work it takes to produce a transcript 🙂

  6. Ellie on September 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Thank you for inspiring and helping others along, Mr. Pressfield. Your generosity is a huge sign from the universe for me. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us!

  7. Elliott Scott on September 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I just subscribed! I can’t wait!

  8. Ryan Clements on September 4, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Awesome! Just subscribed. Thanks so much Steve for this and all your inspiration. Defeating resistance!!

  9. Fi Phillips on September 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Exciting. I’m all signed up. Can’t wait.

  10. Ivana Sendecka on September 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

    The best thing about this blog post and this amazing announcement was to see Steve in moving pictures. Thanks for shipping this video and full speed forward.

  11. Jerry Ellis on September 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I’m making my X to get the video, Steve.

  12. Ellie on September 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Loved the first video and all of this is coming at a perfect time for me. I recently outlined my idea but I’m looking forward to comparing my outline to the foolscap you’re going to walk us through. Can’t thank you enough!

  13. Donna Michel on September 5, 2013 at 4:01 am

    This is awesome, a word that is totally overused, but this trip that you are inviting us to take with you is truly awesome.

    Thank you!

  14. Kathy Ostman-Magnusen on September 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Ya know what? I think every single day that I have NOT arrived. It is not that I don’t know that I am not a “good” painter or sculptor, but I do feel an ache in my heart that I can do better. I actually think that is a good sign, no matter my frustration. I am sick of it.. all of it, trying to measure up to the $$. I think it is a time of going back to the drawing board and just “doing the work”. Who cares? I have to tell myself that or else I will not priced and that is not what it can be about. I want to be a “great” artist. One foot in front of the other in my garage, I am doing the work.

  15. sharan on September 7, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I saw “The Legend of Bagger Vance” for the first time yesterday. I knew the writer was a student of metaphysics from the content. I did not know that the writer was so extraordinarily generous and kind. Thank you for your efforts and your truth about yourself. I wait for “Writing Wednesdays” with great excitement.

  16. Michael on September 10, 2013 at 6:55 am


    I thought you would like this quote that I found about John Lennon

    “The Beatles haven’t got any magic you haven’t got. We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with. Imagine working with the Beatles, it’s tough,” he said.

  17. woman on November 20, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Stay Stupid The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began. Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway. How do we achieve this state of mind? By staying stupid. By not allowing ourselves to think. A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act. Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

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