2 Notes for the New Year

Cartoon by Harry Bliss from the December 30th L.A. Times:

A cat wearing spectacles is sitting at his writing desk scribbling in his journal.

Dear Diary,

Finished writing the novel, got a bit or weeding done, had ‘The Big Conversation’ with the wife …

HA! Just kidding.


(The actual cartoon says, “Finished reading the novel.” I tweaked the text for our own special group.)

The second story comes from the ancient world:

The Games sacred to Zeus were held every four years at the city of Olympia in Greece. The stadium is still there. You can walk through the tunnel that the athletes took to enter the arena and even wriggle your toes into the stone grooves that served in ancient times as starting blocks for the races.

In those days, the spectators sat city-by-city. The Athenians took their seats all in one section. Same for the Corinthians, Argives, etc.

The stadium was packed on this particular day, when an elderly gentleman entered seeking a seat.

No one would get up for him.

The old man crossed painfully through the Theban section. Nobody stood. The gentleman next entered the Achaean section; again no person vacated his seat. By now the full stadium had noticed the elderly fellow’s ordeal. They began jeering and mocking him. The man worked his way through the sections of two more cities. Still no one stood. The laughter and derision now dominated the entire field.

The old man next stepped toward the Spartan section. As soon as his foot crossed the margin, every single Spartan stood, offering the gentleman his seat.

At this, the entire stadium burst into applause. The ovation lasted for minutes. When the cheers finally died down, one spectator turned to his neighbor and observed, “See? The Greeks all know what is right. But only the Spartans practice it.”

Happy New Year!


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. David on January 1, 2020 at 9:34 am

    I already loved the Spartans after Gates of Fire. This has only underlined that.

  2. Brian Nelson on January 1, 2020 at 10:02 am

    2020 started appropriately. First thing read was today’s blog. Action not words. Love it. Perfect timing.

  3. Nick Sherman on January 1, 2020 at 10:14 am

    The cartoon hits hard.
    Thanks for sharing Steve!

  4. Adam Abramowitz on January 1, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Man, awesome story

  5. Joe Jansen on January 1, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Wishing good health and perseverance and forgiveness and good fortune and insight to y’all this year.

  6. Mia Sherwood Landau on January 1, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Happy 2020, Steven & crew!

  7. Dorothy Seeger on January 1, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    I am the cat – slept this morning until noon. I was lamenting that I don’t have a mentor to prod me onward, when I opened Steve’s post. This is just what I need – a kick-in-the-butt to start 2020. Thank you, Steve. You are a true mentor.

  8. John C Thomson on January 1, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    As was said above, I concur

  9. Victoria on January 1, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Excellent. Succinct. And yes, spot on.

  10. Desmond Rooplal on January 1, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you Steven!

  11. Darling, Mary on January 2, 2020 at 5:58 am

    Happy New Year Steven and to all your staff.

  12. bill on January 2, 2020 at 11:00 am

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL. Good one! I think this applies across the board most of us know what is right but do not have the fortitude to do what is right.

  13. Epsercles on January 9, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Love the cartoon! In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “Do the thing and you will have the power.”

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