It All Starts With the Writer

The actress reads a book or screenplay and says, “I want to do this.”

William Goldman, screenwriter of “All the President’s Men,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and author of “Adventures in the Screen Trade”

We applaud her vision.

The editor discovers a manuscript and publishes it.

We salute his taste.

The director, the producer, the financier find a hot property and scoop it up.

We give ’em an award.

I’m not saying these artists don’t deserve their plaudits.

All I’m saying is

It all begins with the writer.

The fun starts with you and me.

Everybody else waits downstream.

Everyone else comes late to the party.

Others may interpret. They may mount, they may discover, they may finance, underwrite, refine, support, reconfigure. They may “bring to life.”

But the material they work with had its genesis with you and me.

At the moment of conception there are only two entities in the room—you and your Muse.

William Goldman said famously in Adventures in the Screen Trade

Nobody knows anything.

Lemme propose an amendment.

Before the writer, nobody has anything.

I wrote in The Artist’s Journey that the artist enters the void with nothing and comes back with something.

A machine can’t do that.

A supercomputer packed with the most powerful AI can’t do that.

In all of creation, only two creatures can do that.

Gods.

And you and I.

Keep this in mind, brothers and sisters, when some agent or manager or producer disrespects writers or the writing process.

Before the writer, nobody’s got nothing.

 

 

 

 

THE WAR OF ART

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.

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DO THE WORK

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.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

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.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

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.

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TURNING PRO

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?"

Turning-Pro

24 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on October 10, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Amen! Thanks for this!

  2. Daniel J Stutzman on October 10, 2018 at 6:11 am

    I was just at the McKee Story seminar, and McKee said the same thing. It’s true. It’s self-evident. Sometimes the masters have to remind us. Thanks again, Steve.

  3. Mia Sherwood Landau on October 10, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Those of us who willingly step out of ourselves and allow creativity… what you call The Muse… to step in and take over, we are the fortunate ones. That combination of vulnerability and humility is exhilarating and sufficient. How we pay our bills is another matter entirely. Our willingness to receive and produce does not automatically create income. That’s separate, distinct element of satisfaction.

  4. Tine Wiggens on October 10, 2018 at 6:27 am

    🙂

  5. Lyn Blair on October 10, 2018 at 6:31 am

    What a post. Thank you!
    So true.
    How wonderful it is to be at the genesis. It’s what we live for. The genesis moments.

  6. Aban on October 10, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Thank you Steven. You just empowered me!

  7. Liz on October 10, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for the encouraging words: trying to make it as a full-time writer is no joke, as I’m quickly learning. Reading this helps. 🙂

  8. MARK MAKOWSKI on October 10, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Can someone tell me this? Maybe you all already know…but in the series Steve put on line here there was a Chapter 81 titled “Writing in Character as Someone Else.” It seemed to me that this was one of the key chapters.
    I got “The Artist’s Journey” and it is not in there. It would be right in front of “The Amazon Mind.”
    Is there a reason why? Did Steven reconsider this? I was going back and forth through it like a crazy person
    trying to find it. Anyone have an idea?

    • Steven Pressfield on October 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Mark, I think I just decided it didn’t fit. Maybe I was wrong. Bottom line: you’re not crazy. Somebody (me) cut that chapter.

      P.S. Thanks for asking!

      Would you like me to resurrect that chapter and post it?

      • Todd Cattell on October 10, 2018 at 12:20 pm

        Yes Steve, please do Resurrect and Post The “Writing In Character As Someone Else” Chapter!

      • MARK MAKOWSKI on October 16, 2018 at 6:31 am

        Steve thanks for the reply! At first I thought, yes of course, re-post it. But then I thought…
        what is the reason for cutting the chapter? Maybe Steve has a good reason for cutting it.
        Maybe he has refuted the chapter completely?
        Maybe he has decided that writing in character as someone else no longer works?
        Maybe he has decided that the muse will give you something else if you just sit down and work?
        Maybe they said, “Steve, we’ve run out of paper and you need to cut a chapter?”
        Maybe Resistance said, “Hey Chief, you think I don’t know what you are doing? Writing
        in character as someone else? Nice try! I’m onto you. Good luck trying to fool me.”

        Maybe I’m overthinking this?
        But it seemed like such a key moment, a big revelation, an a-ha moment…the moment you finally
        broke through…that I am wondering why you cut it.
        So if you think it is still valid, please re-post…if not, then no.

        But I think it was a great hint.
        Know that someone is reading your words CAREFULLY!
        My copy of The Artist’s Journey is
        underlined, dog eared, commented on, sweated on. (I read it between sets.)
        My own solution to the missing chapter 81 was to print it out and stick it in the book right
        in front of the Amazon Mind.

        Steve if I could fawn a little bit here without embarrassing myself or you too much…
        I read Writing Wednesdays every week, but never comment…wore out the War of Art through
        a couple of copies…destroying the binding of The Artist’s Journey currently.
        So let me just sincerely say how much your words have meant.
        You are the main man,
        warrior spirit
        no excuses
        no bullshit
        big kahuna
        animal spirit
        dragon slayer of resistance!
        Was that too much? Ok maybe take animal spirit out of there…but everything else is valid.
        Anyway, big fan here…maybe not as big of a fan as Mary Doyle…how DOES she get the first
        comment every week? Just wondering…

  9. stacey williams on October 10, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    reading this book i felt like i was having a conversation, than reading

  10. Eleanor Gamarsh on October 10, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I’m chuckling over this one! Borrowing Lilly Tomlin for a second, “Ain’t it the truth.” This article makes so much sense. But no one thinks about a writer being there first for others ro have the information they need to do their job. I doubt anyone ever thinks of where that printed page comes from and who made it either. The next in line for recognition is the printer.

  11. Jay Cadmus on October 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you!

  12. Mary Dessein on October 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you, Steve. You continue to be my hero. My encourager. Any powerful reminder of who I am.

    • Mary Dessein on October 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Okay, editing is ongoing! AND powerful reminder of who I am.

  13. sandra on October 10, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Powerful words. Words I needed to hear. Thank you, Mr. Pressfield.

  14. Alejandro De La Garza on October 10, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    There’s a Hollywood story that says Anne Bancroft once complained to her husband, Mel Brooks, about the massive amount of dialogue she had to memorize for a newly-attained film role. Supposedly, he then picked up a blank sheet of paper and said something like, “Now imagine having to put all those words on this.” I’ve noticed how many executive producers in television and film have no qualms spending millions for a star performer’s salary, but suddenly get poor when it comes time to pay the writers. Indeed, if it wasn’t for we creative scribes, the global entertainment community would collapse – and the rest of the globe would quickly (if not unknowingly) follow the same route.

  15. MBMc on October 10, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Hear, hear and amen, Steve.

  16. Conor Neill on October 11, 2018 at 2:31 am

    Powerful perspective.
    It’s easy to criticise, but it’s magical to create.

  17. William Dellecker on October 11, 2018 at 2:39 am

    The Beginning is where Brilliance lives!

  18. Nour Chehab Eddine on October 11, 2018 at 6:51 am

    I needed this reminder today! I’m such a fan of your work, Steven. Thank you for all that you’ve shared with us.

  19. Regina Holt on October 11, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Music Modernization Act was signed today. Gov’t on theme?! That never happens!

  20. Julie Murphy on October 11, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    How refreshing…after all the needful talk of resistance, we rejoice in our gift.

    This one is going on the refrigerator. Thanks, Steve.

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