The great thing about working as a writer (as opposed to being, say, an actor) is you only need a pencil and a piece of paper to work.

Nobody can stop you from writing a novel.

It doesn’t matter where you’re working. You’re a writer.

No one can stop you from banging out a screenplay.

Maybe you’re not being paid, maybe nobody knows who you are, maybe no one will ever read, let alone publish or produce your book or movie.

But you can KEEP WORKING entirely on your own.

I have a closet in my office. In it are thirty-seven screenplays. Seven of them actually brought in money, at least in the form of an option if not an actual sale. That means thirty (six months of work apiece) were technically for naught.

But those scripts let me KEEP WORKING.

With each one, I learned something. On some, I learned a lot.

If you have to take a gig driving for Uber or waiting tables at Hooters, it’s okay.

Keep writing.

Nobody can stop you from getting up at five in the morning and putting in three hours pounding the keys.

Or two hours.

Or one.

When someone asks you what you do for a living, answer, “I’m a writer.”

You are.

Keep writing.

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

51 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on May 27, 2020 at 5:48 am

    This was exactly the dose of medicine I needed this morning after putting in a discouraging hour on the keyboard, Doctor Steve! As always, thanks.

    • Sandra on May 28, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      Mary Doyle, who should I beat up for a discouraging hour on the keyboard. You are a dream!

  2. Dale Ivan Smith on May 27, 2020 at 7:46 am

    A much needed reminder for me this morning! It also reminds me that one thing we writers truly own is our own writing, and we can work at it, always.

  3. Helena Bouchez on May 27, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Yes! And if you’re a writer for hire like I am, double plus on getting up a little early to write what you damned well please even if the thing never delivers a dime of “revenue.” Making sure I’m working on my own projects (three at the moment) allows me to haul off and enjoy the craft of co-writing with others instead of being resentful that their books are getting out the door and my own are not.

  4. York on May 27, 2020 at 8:25 am

    One word:

    Awesome!

  5. Joe Jansen on May 27, 2020 at 8:37 am

    The guy at the end of the steel girder up there: “My battery is at 2%. Any you mutts have a charging cable?”

    • Brian Nelson on May 27, 2020 at 8:58 am

      Joe,
      I had to read that about 4 times before I got it. That’s funny.
      bsn

    • Joe on May 27, 2020 at 4:13 pm

      Brian,

      It was either that or, “Excuse me, excuse me. Too much coffee this morning. Don’t pause the meeting on my account.”

  6. Chuck DeBettignies on May 27, 2020 at 8:48 am

    It’s so helpful to hear someone at Steven’s level of understanding and experience say . . . “Keep Working.”

  7. Brian Nelson on May 27, 2020 at 9:02 am

    Dear Steve,
    It has taken me a very long time to understand the, “right to your labor, not the fruits of your labor” counsel Krishna gave Arjuna and Vance gave to Junuh. I think this pandemic helped set the conditions in such stark relief that I could not help to see it.

    Mid Feb-early March we had this great plan for our race in August. We added an interesting twist that should have appealed to a number of CrossFit boxes and therefore increased participation. This year was the tipping point year!!!
    I was busily reaching out to all of these gyms and sponsors with optimistic enthusiasm. Even before the official lockdown in Washington, we realized our efforts were both inconsiderate and fruitless.

    The next 4-5 days, I had nothing to do–but web surf news aggregators and catastrophize. I’m actually quite gifted in both. I was snipping with my wife. Angry. Scared. Miserable. If I didn’t find something proactive and purposeful to occupy my crazy mind, I would lose it.

    I got really busy with a few ideas–and began to work them. I thought of other possibilities for my business in light of the changing environment. I saw another problem in an organization in which I realized I could help. I think the point is that I began to regain a sense of efficacy and control in my life–even as the world around me went crazy.

    I don’t know the outcome of this effort. It may be the biggest thing of my life, or it may be for naught (monetarily). What I FINALLY understood, is that I am here to create. It is what makes me happy. Maybe we need to run the hedonic treadmill until it breaks to realize there is no true reward in the fruits of our labors.

    I also think that maybe I’m just a bit dimmer than most. I need to have lived it out, practiced it, did the mileage before I know intrinsically what I thought I understood intellectually years previously. Keep Writing. For me I may twist it just a bit to ‘keep creating’. Keep living. Keep producing. Keep Trying. The effort is its own reward.
    bsn

  8. Sam Luna on May 27, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Steven posts like these are always a shot in the arm, thank you. I’m 2 out of 20 from my screenwriting days as far as actual money paid so that ratio rings true. And yes, they all teach you something, painful though the lessons may be sometimes.

  9. Fiorella on May 27, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Couldn´t agree more!!! I enjoy reading you, cheers from Argentina

  10. Frank Freeman on May 27, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for this. Simple and powerful, the essence of what we’re doing. It reminded me of a passage in Brenda Ueland’s book If You Want to Write:
    “When discouraged, remember what Van Gogh said: ‘If you hear a voice within you saying: You are no painter, then paint by all means, lad, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.”

    • YL on May 27, 2020 at 6:49 pm

      Very true!

  11. Jonathan on May 27, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I LOVE this.
    Reminds me of when I was waiting tables with a crew of Bulgarians like 7 years ago – as I worked with them for months, stripping table cloths/plating food/mopping kitchens, I was struck with THE WAY that they worked – work to them was like a holy, sacred thing. The quality of everything they did was insanely, uncompromisingly important – they had a reverence for THE WORK itself outside of the paycheck.
    Love it – thank you, Steve!

    • Brian Nelson on May 27, 2020 at 11:47 am

      Jonathan,
      I had a similar experience with a barber just outside of Ft Lewis. He’s Vietnamese and his English is shaky. He didn’t need language to express his love of his craft–and these are simply military style haircuts–probably the easiest haircut for a barber. It was humbling to sit there and be the recipient of such a high degree of attention, focus, and–love. He cut my hair for 20 years until a Starbucks tore the building down for a new drive thru…
      bsn

      • Jonathan on May 27, 2020 at 1:14 pm

        so awesome – the exact thing that struck me. that’s amazing thanks for sharing!

      • Jill on May 27, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        I hope he found a new place to cut hair ~

    • Jill on May 27, 2020 at 6:03 pm

      You can tell when someone respects what they do, when they really, really care. No matter what you do, if you respect what you’re doing, respect your employer, your customer ~ it shows. ^__^**

  12. Margret Dugan on May 27, 2020 at 9:56 am

    My God, I am a writer!

  13. Charlie Kunken on May 27, 2020 at 10:09 am

    So true Steve – the learning by writing. I’m working through writing my first novel right now and have (almost) embraced the fact that I need to do this simply so that I can learn how to write a book. I’ll probably need to read Turning Pro again 😉 Cheers for this post

  14. Abhik Sarkar on May 27, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Just what I needed right now. Keep working. Thank you Steve!

  15. Marina Goritskaia on May 27, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Say “I am a writer”, give a 5-second pitch of what you’re working on and give them a link to your site to avoid unnecessary questions like “where can I actually get your books?”

    • Marina Goritskaia on May 27, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Even in an imaginary awkward situation I have to repeat the same word without a synonym…

  16. Jimmy Naraine on May 27, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Short and powerful, thank you!

  17. John Robson on May 27, 2020 at 11:25 am

    This may be the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received. Thank you.

  18. Terry Lynn Weaver on May 27, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Dude, I love this. I was listening to the War of Art this morning on a six mile run after writing. Thanks for helping us stay focused!!

    S/F, Steve

  19. Matt Ryan on May 27, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for every piece of inspiration you provide!

  20. Julio on May 27, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    I’m a writer that doesn’t write. Just me sitting with a blank piece of paper in front of me. No words. No sentences. No paragraphs. No book. No story to tell.

  21. Paul Guillory on May 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Yes! Thank you!!!

    When I’m writing and in my head all alone up there where no one can help you and then it’s time to put the pencil down not even knowing if you’ve done anything meaningful so you can go clock into work, I will remember this, I swear.

  22. Amy Martinsen on May 27, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Today was hard and lonely. I don’t feel so alone now. Thank you.

  23. Antoinette Webster on May 27, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    …I, too, feel I am a writer who doesn’t write, even when the desire and call to write is strong. And yet there are times when the words write themselves through me. Another reminder to get out of my way and show up, willing, open, and let “it” flow.

  24. Jill on May 27, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    I am a writer (like literally as in at a digital ad agency) ~ but it bugs me how I pause for a bit and say that when someone asks me what I do for a living instead of “I’m an artist” (as in a painter, because literally I am).

    We may need a little more than paper and pencil to do what we do but seriously even if we didn’t have anything we could trace our fingers in the dirt or draw on walls with our blood if we had to. Or create things in our heads.

    I love today’s post. Thank you so much. I am an artist. And all the stuff I paint and draw that nobody will ever buy or make it to a show, enables me to keep working. Thank you so, so much for telling me this today <3

    • YL on May 27, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      Keep going, Jill!

      • Jill on May 27, 2020 at 6:55 pm

        Super super thank you so much YL (>^-^)> I really needed that <3 Thank you ^_^*

  25. YL on May 27, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Can’t agree more!

  26. Nickolas Sherman on May 27, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Everything is built around the work. Without the work there is nothing. Get your hour in every day. Keep working! You’re the man Steve!

  27. Jurgen Strack on May 28, 2020 at 7:01 am

    Nice one, Steve. I love it 🙂
    This minute I told someone headhunting me for a job, I’m a writer.
    I am.

  28. Bane on May 28, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Sometimes It takes hitting rock-bottom before were able to give up Henry Miller’s ghost(ego) and become our authentic selves and do the work that we were put on this earth to do.

  29. Sandra on May 28, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Sir, I love you for this. It’s simple; it’s sincere. It’s how I write. One day my story will be public. Mr Pressfield, thank you for believing in the underdog.

  30. Kristina on May 28, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I know your post is well intentioned, I just gotta point out that, as a woman, hearing a man say “if you have to take a gig waiting tables at Hooters, it’s okay” makes me cringe. To me, it comes across a little bit like “well, if you’ve gotta let yourself be objectified to survive, that’s acceptable”. I feel you could have used a more neutral choice of establishment.

  31. Aqeel Ali on May 28, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Only through working are our voices of doubt cleared. In some of Steven’s books he alludes to the fact that we have to finish simply to show and prove ourselves wrong, let alone anyone else.

    Beautiful post

  32. Tom Hoyum on May 28, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    For most of what I write, I am my first reader. And often the only reader.

    Sure, I’d like an audience. With or without an audience, I write.

  33. Nduwhite Ndubuisi Ahanonu on May 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you, Steve, and I am glad I am here.

  34. Charles on May 29, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    keep working and happy

  35. Susanne Dejanovich on May 30, 2020 at 11:10 am

    I am not a writer. Always wanted to be an artist; but chose to give to a family instead. I find Steve’s blogs amazing. And am so renewed by everyone’s positive, uplifting comments. All your struggles remind me that this is life. We are all swimming up river like the salmon. Life is a struggle; but that resistance thing is a heavy weight. Wishing everyone well. Keep swimming up river. We all need each other. Thank you for so much honesty and vulnerability.

  36. Yvonne on May 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you for this, Steve…as usual, perfect timing! I have only recently begun feeling comfortable calling myself a writer “publicly” (along with daring to call myself an “artist”). A dear writer friend told me many years ago that if you write, you are a writer (indicating that it didn’t matter if you were published or recognized — basically, if you did the work, that alone made you a writer). I always kept that sentiment in my heart, especially during difficult times when I felt like giving up because I didn’t feel I was making any worthwhile progress. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and advice with us.

  37. Caron Robinson on May 31, 2020 at 12:16 am

    Just found your book The war of art in my bookcase! So timely. Facing up to my demons and going for it first day tomorrow. Resistance is there but I feel supported and comforted with my newly found muses. Thanks Steven x

  38. Andy Krause on June 1, 2020 at 11:29 am

    I say to myself, I’m not writing my novel or screenplay. Maybe I’m not really a writer. Then I just spent the last hour writing, revising, and editing lengthy Facebook replies. Then revising again and editing again. Then reading over for a third or fourth time so I don’t come off sounding like an idiot. Then reviewing the words even after I posted it and changing that one word which shifts the meaning. Yeah, I’m not a writer.

    • Ana Jiménez on June 5, 2020 at 3:47 am

      Andy Krause, of course you’re a writer. I’m not saying it, your writing resistance says it.
      I feel my bad English, my language is that of Miguel de Cervantes 🙂
      Thank you all so much!

  39. Eugene on June 26, 2020 at 5:51 am

    Thank you for the call to action.

    I made a simple visual here:

    https://twitter.com/asystemfor/status/1276497575596589058

    Keep working!

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