Month: February 2014

Boiling Frogs

By Shawn Coyne | 14 Comments

Here’s another chunk from my slowly evolving book, THE STORY GRID: What Good Editors Know, soon to be published by Black Irish Books. How does one know when a story isn’t working? That is, if you decided to become a literary agent tomorrow, how could you figure out if a story has a chance to be acquired by a publishing company or be optioned for a movie deal? I know. I know. Money isn’t everything. The story may work for the writer’s immediate family or for a select group of kind friends. But that liberal definition of “working” is not…

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“Give Me One Redeeming Moment”

By Steven Pressfield | 25 Comments

Did you ever see the movie Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman, directed by Spike Jonze, and starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper? If there has ever been a truer or more devastating depiction of the writer’s self-induced hell (including those by Proust or Stephen King), I haven’t seen it. In the film there is a fourth vivid character, that of “Robert McKee,” the screenwriting guru, played with scenery-chewing gusto by the brilliant Brian Cox. Of course there really is a Robert McKee (full disclosure: he’s a dear friend) and he really is the teacher-of-writing-and-story par excellence. Consider this…

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Service or Self?

By Steven Pressfield | 26 Comments

This week on Ask Me Anything we take a question from Sheri Kleintop. She asks … In your book, The War of Art, the focus is recognizing and facing Resistance head on. Throughout the ages, women such as Gorgo, Jackie Kennedy and women in every household across the globe have (had) an obligation to nurture, serve and protect their children and spouses. While in the midst of our life of details, how can one go about honoring our obligations while also fighting to maintain our own identity and long term dreams? As a divorced mother, teacher and advocate for our…

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Olympic Character

By Callie Oettinger | 10 Comments

Jean-Dominique Bauby, Stephen Hawking, Francis Tsai—a journalist,  a theoretical physicist and an artist. The similarities? Olympic character. Olympic Character In his column DNA of Champions, Joel Stein wrote about having his DNA compared with Olympic Gold Medalist Sergei Bubka’s DNA. It wasn’t surprising to read that there are certain genes that are common within Olympic athletes. However . . . “The key Olympic success,” said Bubka, is that “you need to have character to go to your goal, to do your work, to be a hard worker.”

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My First Three Novels

By Steven Pressfield | 50 Comments

The first one took about two years full-time. I started when I was twenty-four and gave up when I was twenty-six. The price of that one was my bank account, my sanity, my marriage. The next one, six years later, took about eighteen months full-time. That one I actually finished. Couldn’t find a publisher for it either. The third one, three years after that, took about two and a half years and brought me to the point where I was seriously considering hanging myself. The only reason I didn’t was I couldn’t find a hook strong enough to hold me.…

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Manipulation Versus Inspiration

By Shawn Coyne | 19 Comments

George Packer delivered his version of the ever-popular “Amazon is destroying book publishing” theme in a recent long form piece in The New Yorker. A consummate journalist and skilled writer, Packer’s points are compelling and consistent with Brad Stone’s reporting in his book The Everything Store, a book I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Here are just two nuggets about the company that hit me in the solar plexus: 1. Amazon’s “down with the Gatekeepers!” messaging is outrageously self-serving and hypocritical. While it publicly batters the snobby New York publishing establishment and the big five corporations that control…

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How Resistance Proves the Existence of God

By Steven Pressfield | 71 Comments

Consider James Rhodes, whose April 26, 2013 article in the Guardian UK I stole for last week’s post: I didn’t play the piano for 10 years. A decade of slow death by greed working in the City, chasing something that never existed in the first place (security, self-worth, Don Draper albeit a few inches shorter and a few women fewer). And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven—to be…

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Taking Breaks

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

Today, Lynn Barrett asks us … How do you know when you need a break? TRANSCRIPT: Steve: Are you asking me or yourself? Shawn: I’m asking you, and then I want to follow up because I have an idea, too. Steve: Okay. I come from this school of “I never need a break”. In fact, I think that when I hear that . . .  I have a maxim, which is if you’re trying to decide if the voice in your head is Resistance or it’s not Resistance—is it Resistance or is it legitimate—the maxim is: When in doubt, it’s…

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“Find What You Love and Let It Kill You”

By Steven Pressfield | 39 Comments

Thanks to Susanna Plotnick for sending me this post from April 2013 by James Rhodes, concert pianist. I’m ripping it off lock, stock, and barrel from the Guardian (UK) website and posting it here for our collective delectation. My life as a concert pianist can be frustrating, lonely, demoralising and exhausting. But is it worth it? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt James Rhodes Friday 26 April 2013 After the inevitable “How many hours a day do you practice?” and “Show me your hands”, the most common thing people say to me when they hear I’m a pianist is…

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Foolscap Your Life

By Steven Pressfield | 7 Comments

This week’s question comes from Stelios Perdios. He ask … I’m half-tempted to apply the Foolscap method to 2014 to help plan my goals. It sounds silly, but there’s already a built-in protagonist (me) and a villain (Resistance). Also, I’d rather chose my own theme for the upcoming year rather than ponder it in retrospect. Furthermore, if I divide the year into three acts, then I know what scenes I need to be in to achieve my overall goals as a writer. Most importantly, the storyline for the year is on a single sheet of paper. I’ve tried other goal…

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