"This Might Not Work … "


Stealing a phrase (above) from Seth Godin, I’m going to try something a little different over the next few weeks and maybe more.

I’m gonna serialize a book I’ve been working on.

Consider the course and contour of this artist’s journey …

The book is about writing.

I don’t have a title yet but the premise is that there’s such a thing as “the artist’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is different from “the hero’s journey.”

The artist’s journey is the process we embark upon once we’ve found our calling, once we know we’re writers but we don’t know yet exactly what we’ll write or how we’ll write it.

These posts will be a bit longer than normal, just because that’s how chapters in a book fall. I don’t wanna post truncated versions that are so short they don’t make sense, just because that’s where chapters happen to break.

Please let me know if you hate this.

I’ll stop if it’s not worth our readers’ time or if our friends find the material boring.

That said, let’s kick it off.

Starting with the epigraph, here’s the beginning of this so-far-untitled book:




I found that what I had desired all my life was not to live—if what others are doing is called living—but to express myself. I realized that I had never had the least interest in living, but only in this which I am doing now, something which is parallel to life, of it at the same time, and beyond it. What is true interests me scarcely at all, nor even what is real; only that interests me which I imagine to be, that which I had stifled every day in order to live.

Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn



B    O    O   K         O    N   E


 T     H     E       H     E     R     O’     S       J     O     U     R     N     E     Y


A   N   D       T   H   E     A   R   T   I   S   T’   S       J   O   U   R   N   E   Y






Consider the course and contour of this artist’s journey:


          Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

          The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle

          Born to Run

          Darkness on the Edge of Town

          The River


          Born in the U.S.A.

          Tunnel of Love

          Human Touch

          Lucky Town

          The Ghost of Tom Joad

          Working on a Dream

          Wrecking Ball

          High Hopes


Or this artist’s:


       Goodbye, Columbus

       Portnoy’s Complaint

       The Great American Novel

       My Life as a Man

       The Professor of Desire

       Zuckerman Unbound

       The Anatomy Lesson

       The Counterlife

       Sabbath’s Theater

       American Pastoral

       The Human Stain

       The Plot Against America




Or this artist’s:



          Ladies of the Canyon


          For the Roses

          Court and Spark

          The Hissing of Summer Lawns


          Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter

          Wild Things Run Fast

          Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm

          Night Ride Home

          Turbulent Indigo


Clearly there is a unity (of theme, of voice, of intention) to each of these writers’ bodies of work.

There’s a progression too, isn’t there? The works, considered in sequence, feel like a journey that is moving in a specific direction.


          Bob Dylan

          The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

          The Times They Are a-Changin’

          Highway 61 Revisited

          Blonde on Blonde

          Bringing It All Back Home

          Blood on the Tracks


          John Wesley Harding


          Nashville Skyline

          Slow Train Coming

          Hard Rain

          Time Out of Mind


          Shadows in the Night


A strong case could be made that the bodies of work cited above (and those of every other artist on the planet) comprise a “hero’s journey,” in the classic Joseph Campbell/C.G. Jung sense.

I have a different interpretation.

I think they represent another journey.

I think they represent “the artist’s journey.”



Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.



  1. Kevin on February 14, 2018 at 2:09 am

    Serialization, yes! Heck, why not? It seems to be the trend now on television (BrBd, GoT, etc). Go for it, Steve.

  2. Mary on February 14, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Hate this? Are you kidding? Bring it on!

  3. Julia Murphy on February 14, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Thank you, Steve

  4. David Smith on February 14, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Interesting enough to keep reading…go ahead, convince me!

  5. Don Akchin on February 14, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Whether or not it works is irrelevant. I am fascinated by the concept and eager to read more. Thanks!

  6. Joel D Canfield on February 14, 2018 at 6:25 am

    Had no idea I’d been waiting for this. Eager for more.

  7. Pam Long on February 14, 2018 at 6:39 am



  8. Gwen Gunter on February 14, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Yes yes yes! I am a visual artist, not a writer, and gain so much insight from your posts. The parallels are amazing, so I say, yes, go for it!

  9. Elizabeth Rose on February 14, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Go for it! It will be fun to read and compare with “The Artists Way” which influenced me years ago.

  10. Jack Ludden on February 14, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Keep ’em coming!

  11. Geralyn on February 14, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Looking forward to reading every word
    Thank you Steve

  12. Michael Beverly on February 14, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Carry on.

  13. John Michael Heisman on February 14, 2018 at 7:23 am

    MORE !!!

  14. Judith Bornhouser on February 14, 2018 at 7:26 am

    More, please.

  15. Jeff Korhan on February 14, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Keep going. I feel the same way about the hero’s journey too! Anxious to get your take.

  16. Lyn on February 14, 2018 at 7:41 am

    Pure genius. I love your idea and the epigraph from Henry Miller.

    When writers think they have something to say, that’s when they start writing. An idea is born and the artist’s journey begins. Ideas turn into more ideas which turn into books and then into series of books, leaving a creative trail, an artist’s signature that says, “I was here and here are my thoughts.” If that’s not living — I don’t know what is.

    “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes

  17. Kenny Daley on February 14, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Yes Please!

  18. seth godin on February 14, 2018 at 7:54 am

    of course this is magic. More Pressfield! Always. It’s like cowbell. More, please.

    The medium doesn’t really lend itself to serialization, just as Dickens use of a boat to bring each chapter to the US was a little fraught.

    But we’ll take it.

    Why not offer a Kindle of the whole thing so those that are itching for the rest can pay you the $12 bucks and dive in?

  19. Graham Glover on February 14, 2018 at 7:55 am

    “This Might Not Work…”

    That sounds like all of my projects. Often they work, sometimes they don’t. I’m a photographer. I tell stories through my art. I just took a medical hit over the weekend, a sort of warning call summoned by stress. “HEY! Stop that! Keep it up and next time it may be real.” Hospital emergency rooms are interesting. Everything is back to normal, except my work.

    I explore. I take my work as far as I can and work to boredom. When I’m bored, I change direction. Picasso did it. I think most artists do. I just finished my Fashion Period through the aforementioned warning call. This wasn’t the first warning call. Strike two.

    I don’t know where I’m going. I’ve been restructuring my work, my future. There will be street photography. There will be people, events, stories. There will be sports games. There will be prints, magazines, videos. I have to do this.

    The idea of the Artist’s Journey makes perfect sense.

  20. Krista on February 14, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Fantastic, looking forward to more!

  21. Kara on February 14, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Oh WOW! Gratefully received! Thank you.

  22. Joe on February 14, 2018 at 8:21 am

    What he said.

  23. Debbie L Kasman on February 14, 2018 at 8:22 am


  24. Kristy on February 14, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Yes please! I need your insight on this now, before you can finish a book so pls share it. I am on an Artist’s Journey and it’s sooooo confusing. There are little mini hero’s journey’s within each piece of work, but the path is totally different. Just seeing the list of other artists work gives me more clarity on how this unfolds. thx!!!

  25. Sandra on February 14, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Interesting, in my opinion.

  26. Eiry on February 14, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Waiting. Yes please.

  27. Nancy Enn on February 14, 2018 at 9:00 am

    I’ve been waiting for this perspective.

  28. Kelly Morgan on February 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

    This is so exciting! I can’t wait to read what you’re going to write about this. In my classes I’ve used The Wizard of Oz and a simplified version of The Hero’s Journey to help artists understand they are on an inner and outer journey that starts with a dream and ends with coming home to yourself. All the challenges and tests and mentors and allies are there to help us express our truth. This higher perspective is comforting … makes it easier to travel the road.

  29. Antonia Nelson on February 14, 2018 at 9:45 am

    You had me at “this book is about writing”
    So look forward to what’s next!

  30. Gabriel Porras on February 14, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Hello Steven,

    This is a very stimulating idea -and a great choice of songwriters!- so please keep sharing. It will never be boring.

    I just worry that you may end up in a legal tangle or create unintended confusion in your reader’s minds, since there is already out there an excellent book on a very similar subject titled “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

  31. Chris Ross Leong on February 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

    +1 on the “more, please!”

    Instead of age- or maybe passion-based path (which amount to more or less the same thing), here’s hoping that your Rake’s Progress might take us down a focus-depth-based path, more like following a mineral seam vertically, rather that following a horizontal stream, if that makes any sense.

    In any event, I cannot wait to see how your exploration unfolds!

    Many thanks for doing this — much-neeed in our community and thus already well worthwhile, no matter where you end up.

  32. Bruce Andis on February 14, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I’m intrigued. And, as always, love the writing. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

  33. Elizabeth Sale on February 14, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I would love it because of my own journey, trying to figure out what it means and why I have felt the way I do since I was a little kid. I’ve been writing a novel for years that keeps changing but remains the same and gets deeper and more personal and more involved and won’t stop even when I want it to, but I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if it did. So I guess Henry Miller and I have something in common: Looking back, I know now that I have also been wanting to express myself. The thought of the artist’s journey makes me feel as though I’m not alone, in a way different from merely knowing I’m not alone. I have 70 ! writing books that I was told over the years I must read. That has been true of only six. I know yours will be the seventh, so have at it.
    I’ve loved every one of your books I’ve read, so I know I’ll love this one. Thank you.

  34. Renita on February 14, 2018 at 10:33 am

    I wrote you an email. So glad to see this resonates with everyone here.

  35. Renita on February 14, 2018 at 10:42 am


    There are great writers and there are great people who inspire us to be better period you may be both… when I read your writing, I am never sure if I am learning the craft of writing or if I am learning to listen to that push inside that says “create! Create!”

    There is something about your special presenCR in the world that speaks to this place in me to keep listening and creating within the void and to pull something out of it and to allow myself to be quite pleased with the work and to at the same time be dissatisfied into creating more, going beyond what has been.

    So I don’t mind what you write. What is important is what I write. And because of you, my journey is better.

  36. Laurie on February 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

    YES, PLEASE keep going with this. A training manual of sorts to help writers find their place on the path… can’t wait to read more!

  37. Vivienne on February 14, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Love it so far, please keep it going. I find your voice very truthful and insightful. Keep it up.

  38. Madeleine D'Este on February 14, 2018 at 11:54 am

    My words exactly!
    Bring it, Steve!
    I’m gonna gobble this up.

  39. Linda Andrews on February 14, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    WOW! You have opened new doors for me. Kick this one open for yourself and grab us by the hand. We will certainly take the journey with you and with each other. I’m excited for us all!

  40. Jule Kucera on February 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Look at this—two of my favorite people (the kind that I read so much it feels as if I know them but I don’t really know them) on the same page, Steve & Seth. Yes to Steve’s question and Yes to Seth’s recommendation.

  41. Bane on February 14, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    This moment needs a personalized Campbell/Jung refesher!!!

  42. Amelie Hubert on February 14, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I’m so excited for this!!

  43. Rusty on February 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Yes, bring it on!

  44. Rachel Walsh on February 14, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    Excellent! Can’t wait for the next chapter.

  45. Will Falconer, DVM on February 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    This may well be the only way I’m able to write my first book! Hell yes, bring it, Steve.

  46. Tom on February 14, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Please continue…..

  47. Michael on February 14, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    More, please. And I agree with Mr. Godin’s notion.

  48. Amy on February 14, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Love it!!! The lists were intriguing – hooked me. I’m curious to know more, to see the similarities between the two journeys, and to see where I am on it. This creative life is such a journey…

  49. Robert on February 14, 2018 at 9:44 pm


    If you are offering the Henry Miller quote as a guiding principle by which writers ought to embark on writing, I say “STOP THIS PROJECT NOW!” I advocate that writers should actually LIVE before they write — or at least AS they are writing — that they should experience life’s joys, sorrows, ups and downs, tragedies, triumphs, victories and defeats. That they should learn first how things work, look, smell, feel, taste, sound — before they set out on their literary journey.

    David McCollough says he won’t write about a place until he’s gone there himself to see how the land and the weather and the light influences the actions of history or of the people he writes about. When fleshing out his characters, he interviews family members and friends, sifts though photographs, even examines the handwriting of his characters. In these ways, he can be accurate — and genuine — in what he puts forth. Sure, he’s writing history. But he’s first and foremost writing literature.

    Miller cares for none of that. Sure, what Henry Miller says is just dandy if you’re writing fantasy or doing exercises in self-contemplation (both of which, frankly, Miller was all about). He even says as much when he says he doesn’t care about what’s true or real. Someone, I forget who, once said that one shouldn’t attempt a novel before the age of 40; after all, what does a person know — really KNOW — before then? Witness the tragedy of how many ‘creative writing’ students spend their lives in academe, graduate and then try to write novels or screenplays of note, only to end up sour, dejected, defeated and up to their chins in college debt? What do they know, except what they have garnered — not actually learned — from books and professors? Is it any wonder that so many tomes that make it to the press or to the screen these days are vapid, eye-rolling dreck, or are based on comic book superheroes, wizards and laughable action heroes — none of which require little in the way of examining that which is real?

    No, Steve: I’m from the old Hemingway school: live, travel, explore, experience life deeply, feel it for all it’s worth, and you will have literary furnishings worth writing about, worth expressing yourself about. By the way, that’s how you did it yourself, Steve.

    Keep up the great work, my friend. But please: drop the Miller quote.

    All the very best,
    — Bob —
    Doylestown, PA

  50. Curtis on February 14, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    “Please let me know if you hate this.” Spoken just like a writer. Write on!

  51. Jared on February 14, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Very excited about the journey.

  52. Thijs on February 15, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Please keep this going until the end.

  53. Teresa Newton-Teresa on February 15, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Brilliantly… simple. I’m all ears to hear more.

  54. Brendan O'Neill on February 15, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Love it, Steve! Please keep the topic going, and thanks for all you do!

  55. Salvador Paniagua on February 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

    I’m intrigued by the idea. I read these types of books all the time. But I’m afraid you might be treading into dangerous water. It feels like we’re overly dramatizing the artist’s life. What about a book on the farm worker’s life? How do you write a book that maps the insides of the artist’s journey without placing the focus on the writer and over glorifying the artist. In the end what matters is the work. Thanks for sharing this work in progress.

  56. Sonja on February 15, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    I always return to your teachings and writings. They stand the test of time, and I for one am ALL FOR this next adventure.

    It sounds fantastic! And the artist’s journey is not talked enough, at least not in any “writing” book I’ve encountered and I’ve read my share.

    Best to you–

  57. Cathy Perdue Ryan on February 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    This concept resonates and I trust you as a writer. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  58. nancy Adair on February 15, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I feel lucky today. Thank you.

  59. Vincent Sargenti on February 15, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I’m with Robert on this.

    I like the idea and I think there is something there but
    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    It wasn’t a total knock out tho.

    So you still have time to make a comeback, Rock…

    If you want to even the score with a hard left across Robert’s jaw, I would hit him another post on the artist’s work, it doesn’t sound as romantic as hero’s and journey’s, an artist’s lovely musings, but you can pull out your little bag of magic and sprinkle it around with some Angel’s tears and make it poignant. The mindset and craft are your wheelhouse.

    When you look at your above examples, we’re not looking at the artists, or their journey… we are examining their work. An artist’s work is the only thing that matters. Their journey is inside each piece of work. Where did it take us? Where did we go with them? The work is all we see of them, the mystical magic is there… in the work.

    What mades those artist’s work… work? What made it a vehicle, a transporter beam to another dimension, the sublime heights?

    When you say an artist’s journey, are we talking about how they went from amateur mediocrity to sublime professional? Or are we considering how they go from ordinary artist to Goosebumps City?

    Joni’s Blue album is one of the finest albums she ever recorded and yet she did that so early in her career. Musicians like Joni and James Taylor and Cat Stevens were born with that. They had everything already in them at age 16. No Journey required. Look at this Ed Sheeran kid. That shit is inborn. But it’s popular music. They aren’t writing 300 page books.

    If you are going to dive into the titles of songs, why not the turn of each phrase. These guys are mass murders in the turn of phrase! And the delivery! Where does that come from?

    “I could drink a case of you…
    And still be on my feet,
    I would still be on… my… feet…”

    We could spend the rest of our lives in our favoritie lyrical lines, simply sharing them, appreciating the sublime ecstasy in listening.

    I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on…

    That’s lightning in a bottle right there. That stands the hairs up on the back of my neck every time. I’d like to see this book focus on what brings down the house, a book that drops the knockout punch on how to send tingles of intoxicating ecstacy through a reader/listener/viewer on command and bring them to tears, laughter, sublimity everytime.

    I’d like to know how an artist is able to inpire, uplift, and then transport the audience on a journey, because that is the real journey. When Jimmy Page launches in the solo on No Quarter Live on The Song Remains The Same album, and in the movie… Why do I just swoon and emote and thrill ride over every controur and each turn of a phrase. Why do I just jump out of my seat and scream when he crescendos that slow, excrutiatingly intense build up? What makes that happen? Why do “I” go on a journey with an artist like that? Why did that solo affect me so permanently?

    An artist’s journey lies in a single song, in the turn of each nuance, transporting us to other worlds, being lifted into the sublime and set safely back down, with a sense of deep inner-cleansing, self renewal. THAT’S the journey! The chest and the breath completely changes, opens up, when all the senses came to life. What beathtaking power an artist holds! To make someone cry. . . from being so deeply moved.

    Talk about that! Talk about the POWER artists have to move you. Where in F@CK does that come from?

    HARD WORK!!!

    That’s where it comes from.
    Artists are messengers of the Sublime.
    Our journey is into the sublime and back.
    Each time we travel we come home bearing gifts.

    The only way to get there is to bring the totality of the self into the present moment, through discipline, and align everything in us with our work and go…
    just go…


    That is the Artist’s journey.
    It’s a journey into non-ordinary states
    states of the sublime

  60. Maxima Kahn on February 18, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    I’m hooked so far, and I think it’s gutsy to do what you’re doing here. Thank you.

  61. Regina on February 19, 2018 at 7:28 am

    “Isn’t she a little young to be going through this?”

    …maybe it’ll help. Mine is intertwined with hers?

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  64. Julian Summerhayes on February 22, 2018 at 2:51 am


    I know you’re very unlikely to read this comment but here goes anyway:

    My life, up until very recently, has been about work — mostly as a lawyer. I thought that by dint of my work ethic, taking a few slings and arrows and going deep with my expertise, my soul would eventually reveal itself. I know, it sounds total BS. But for a guy raised by parents who saw work as the sine qua non of life, what else did I know?

    But of course, as you and Seth have opined, we’re all artists. Perhaps we don’t always see that but our job is to lift the veil between false self — i.e. out egoic version of ourselves — and True Self (as defined by Thomas Merton and many others).

    Only recently have I started to explore other areas of my life to make the connection but it’s hard to reprogramme the neural pathways from the dogged pursuit of expert (lawyer etc) to the artist. In those terms, I’m sure that’s a journey of sorts but it sure feels painful to realise you’ve wasted 30 years of your life doing the wrong thing. Instead, I should have spent my time trying to become the best writer possible.

    Not to worry. I’ve still got the juice to give writing a proper whirl whilst keeping the economic lights on by working as a lawyer — but this time for a very different reason.

    Please keep sharing the chapters of the book. Right now, they’re exactly what I need.

    Big love.



  65. Maria Xenidou on March 2, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Yes to your question and, yes to Seth’s recommendation!
    Love the new website! All the best!

  66. Jorge on March 15, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing your insights, wisdom and being a badass mentor. One of my mentors in the field of personal growth and Entrepreneurship, Randy Gage, directed me to you some time ago. Devoured your War of Art book and just ordered four others. I know i am a writer, that has the habit of writing everyday. Now it’s about learning how to express myself as you say at the beginning of this blog. I enrollad and listened to you 5 part War of Art series and found it very insightful. For some reason I have not been receiving your weekly blog letter since I enrolled in the mini course.

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