“You have to be a studio”

I was doing a free rewrite a few years ago on the lot at Paramount when a producer friend spotted me on the bungalow’s porch and plopped down in the chair beside me. She asked me what I was working on beside this freebie. 

I hesitated.

“That can’t happen,” she said at once.

The gate at Paramount studios

“What do you mean?”

“You not being ready when someone asks that question. You have to have a slate.”

“A slate?”

“Look around,” my friend said, indicating the soundstages and production offices that extended in every direction. “Every studio has a slate. Fox, Disney, Warners…they’ve all got a lineup of pictures they’re making and more in the pipeline. Every producer on this lot has a slate, and every producer and actor and director on every other lot has a slate. I have a slate. You have to have one too.”

My friend was a serious player. She had had hits at two different studios and was in production on another picture at a third. 

“Think about who we’re competing against in this town. It’s not just other writers. We’re competing with studios. We have to have the same professional attitude they have—about finances, about contingencies, about material. 

“You’re a writer. At all times you have to have at least three finished scripts and half a dozen in the works. In a meeting, when a producer says, ‘Steve, what else have you got?’ you have to be able to rattle off four, five, six projects—and be able to pitch ’em all with full professionalism.”

My friend was late for a meeting; she had to hurry off. But what she said as she left is still burned into my brain.

“Just because we’re ‘creative’ doesn’t mean we have permission to act like idiots. The reason writers are condescended to in this town and treated like children is because they act like children. Those days are over. We are entrepreneurs. We are in business. We’re competing against multi-billion-dollar enterprises, and we have to be just as professional as they are.”

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.

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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?"

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"PUT YOUR ASS WHERE YOUR HEART WANTS TO BE"

Available for pre-order in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

55 Comments

  1. Tolis Alexopoulos on June 29, 2022 at 2:08 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve,

    Antagonism and exhaustion are the truths of the business world. On my “ideal” world I dream of an earth where no antagonism exists, but that will only happen if something like the machines, that maintained the fertility of the land and the air of Zion, the Land of the Free in “The Matrix”, will be created and put to work.

    They run. They are teams. They are powerful. We must be as powerful as we can too, but never sacrifice the child inside. Only let it play free and protected by the fortress of our discipline.

    Can a child be powerful beyond measure?

  2. Jackie on June 29, 2022 at 4:17 am

    Always on the prowl to learn new things, I expressed an interest in learning to juggle. My daughter bought me a book, Juggling for the Complete Klutz. The sacks landed in the dog’s water dish, the sink, and I beaned anyone who stood close to me. Three little sacks were hard enough to keep in the air. How would I ever learn to juggle bowling balls or chain saws? Practice, practice, practice. The blog, the short stories, the books, the painting, drop one, pick it back up. Add another. Keep tossing the balls in the air. The goal is to become less carnival sidehow freak and more Cirque Du Soleil. Back to practice. Have a productive and polished week all.

    • Robert Farrell on June 29, 2022 at 9:33 am

      So this means I should be working on more than one project at a time? I have two ideas, one I started and one I haven’t. They’re both completely different writing genres. My enthusiasm says, “Give it a try.” My experience makes me wonder if I’m self-disciplined enough.

      • Jackie on June 29, 2022 at 1:26 pm

        Robert,
        Only you know what works best for you. Try and fail. Fail better next time. Or succeed. I like to have multiple projects in the works. If a project stalls, then there’s other works to fall back on. Don’t be idle is my motto. I only speak from my perspective.

        • Lin Keeling on June 29, 2022 at 2:10 pm

          That works well for me too, Jackie. Sometimes I need to let something percolate for a bit. I turn to another project and let my brain work on it. Amazing what can happen when I do that. Solutions I had never dreamed of.

  3. Ivan B. on June 29, 2022 at 7:02 am

    Man, that was powerful!

    These days I was thinking exactly about the fact that we need to grow up and this article just confirmed my thoughts. Having 3 finished pieces and a few works in progress is really a neat idea.

    Thanks, Steve.

  4. Stan Hustad on June 29, 2022 at 7:08 am

    This is so very true and that’s why I as a performance coach as well as a creator, writer, broadcaster and online teacher I try to find somebody who is very good at all of the process paperwork and accounting whenever I can afford and do that. Try as Dan Sullivan often says, delegate everything but your genius when you can. And there are people who can do that for you. To me one of the proofs or at least patterns of evidence for the divine creator is it there are people who love to do what I hate. Try and find them. Thanks Steve and the book has been wonderful and I waited until the end of the week to read the final chapter. I can hardly wait till Friday.
    Stan Hustad

  5. Monica Bengtson on June 29, 2022 at 7:09 am

    Yes, game changer- thank you- I won’t wake up without asking myself that question.

    What is on the slate?

  6. JJ Hicks on June 29, 2022 at 7:09 am

    This is a good one. And so true. If you work in the professional world while you write, bring that into your creative world. Every chance I get at lunch with someone I haven’t seen in a while I practice my pitch. Over and over again. When I review and agreement, I approach it with the utmost professionalism as if I was on my day job.
    This is great advice!

  7. Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 7:21 am

    I’m going to push back on this just a bit. I’ve been reflecting on our culture of late, sadly not the most optimistic outlook.

    I had a crazy ass dream Saturday night about going home-which wasn’t a safe place when I was a kid. I awoke gasping for breath, and was awake for a couple of hours sorting through the dream. Been estranged for nearly 30 years from my mom and step dad–and this dream allowed for some tumblers of understanding to fall into place.

    Basically it wasn’t about me as much as it was my step-dad, and power. He recognized a power in me and threw me out of the house. Not for the small crime he stated to teach me to be responsible, but because he knew he could no longer control me. He’s the reason I’m hyper sensitive to abuse of power today in any fashion. If you wanted to see me go sideways as a commander, abuse one of my Soldiers or NCOs with your petty rank of 2LT/1LT. They only did that once.

    Long prologue, but wanted to get some background to my thoughts.

    My thoughts are about outsourcing–and how it likely crept into our culture when the baby boomers outsourced child rearing to latchkeys, schools, governments, libraries, parks, etc. What is the result in a culture that puts one’s own professional desires, money, house in suburbs, two cars in garage–wealth and greed, over the raising of kids?

    This was a mostly middle and upper middle class issue says Wikipedia–but it also crept into the other side of the tracks as well.

    So are we surprised that in the 80s/90s leaders of industry tired of paying $35/hour to laborers in the USA opted to send those jobs to places where they paid $.30 an hour? If we, as a culture tossed our children to the curb, why are we surprised that CEOs/COOs/financiers never once thought about the dignity of those laborers in Detroit? Who cares, we’ve just increased our margins by 10 orders of magnitude…

    We have outsourced our responsibilities as citizens to a political class, our health to experts (how’s that working out for us..?), outsourced our opinions to cable news, outsourced all of our inherent, hard-wired responsibilities to everyone else for a 3500 sqft home with a media room in the exurbs. Cannot have an empty room, because like Pascal said 500 years ago ‘all of man’s troubles stem from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone’.

    I understand the practical application of Steve’s friends perspective–but when I initially read it I felt cold. Empty.

    Could be that I”m in a particularly sensitive period while I am outlining and thinking deeply about ‘what I want to say’ in a future book/podcast which will mostly be commentary on us. In short, I think we’ve lost the plot and need to reevaluate our priorities/values before we finish the job of cultural and physical collective suicide.

    Not sure if having a slate allows for presence. Time with nature. Time with family. Where does one find gratitude when we’re constantly thinking about the next production or the next 5?

    Ok. Undoubtedly I’m in a particular mood…have a wonderful day.
    bsn

    • Eilish Bouchier on June 29, 2022 at 8:09 am

      Deeply considered and well articulated and I can’t say you’re wrong on any of your points but having a slate is not mutually exclusive to what you propose. Professionalism demands organisation, systems and clarity of purpose and priorities.

      Excellent post Mr Pressfield thank you

      • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 8:29 am

        Eilish,
        One–cool name. I think Brian might have been one of the top most popular names given to boys in 1969…

        You are correct. I’m pretty certain–now that I’ve vomited out my initial responses, that Steve is always about one’s one decorum, one’s own professionalism, the work-boot and lunch pail brutality of putting one’s ass where one’s heart wants to be.

        Without direction, clarity, purpose–everything is wasted like stray voltage, not laser light that cuts through titanium.

        Thank you for the nudge back towards balance. Have a great day.
        bsn

    • Lucy Weir on June 29, 2022 at 8:45 am

      Brian, I’m going to be a little bit cruel and say that what you’ve written above is absolutely brilliant, but that it makes me want to write a piece about this on Medium. I don’t want to steal what you’ve said so I think I’ll acknowledge and even find out who exactly you are. The idea that we have lost touch with what’s really important, and have to compete on their own terms with cut throat industries like the movie industry, is a definite lowering of Mr Pressfield’s standards, I’m afraid. You’re normally so sound, Steve, so guided by the light, but for me, this is a trick too far. Yes, of course I agree that there are lots of reasons to fill the well, to generate ideas and let them keep billowing up from the space beyond the stars, but the mechanistic model that you rely on here, churning out cheat sheets so some clone can come along and pour you like so much concrete into the mould that capitalism slips us all into while we’re not looking, that, I’m afraid, is a metaphorical model I’ll not be following. Trot along there, Trotsky, I hear you say. But come the revolution, art will be valued for itself, as will beauty, and children’s laughter, and the great Earth itself, without having to be monetized, or squeezed by an accountant’s sticky fingers.

      • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 4:28 pm

        Lucy,
        So I read your post a few times, wallowing in your kind words. I will reach out to you from your website. I shuttered my own, and will turn it back on when I’ve got something to say/do that brings value.

        I can also be reached by our race website: unleashedatstadiumbowl.org. My wife manages the website email—but just say something like—Pressfield blog contact request…Kelly will undoubtedly send me the email with a big ‘?’.

        Thanks again. I’d enjoy pulling this thread a bit further. This was the first thing I’ve written about something I’ve been noodling for a few weeks.
        bsn

      • Gwen Davis-Feldman on July 2, 2022 at 7:18 pm

        Lucy, Lucy Lucy, “come the revolution” indeed. I’m not sure when you came of age but I bought the Album..WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES by the Black Poets in 1970…..In Northern California at San Jose State I marched, know the taste of tear gas watched the steady stream of drugs. come into and destroy the middle class Compton community of my youth …. I fought, stopped at the airport by FBI for looking like Angela Davis….And every decade beyond graduation I was certain was the decade for the revolution. I’m 70, I write about those times …. I don’t need pushing, the words have been flowing for ten years….Maybe I’ll begin sending my darlings out to be judged by the public…when the revolution comes.

    • Kate Stanton on June 29, 2022 at 11:17 am

      Hi Brian!

      “I had a crazy ass dream Saturday night about going home-which wasn’t a safe place when I was a kid.”

      The beautiful thing I have learned about healing from a painful childhood, is that you get to know your true self, the one you hid as a child to survive, in layers. When “it” feels safe it reveals another layer to you. I believe it is a lifelong journey. I also believe in the beauty of transforming that destructive energy into something creative–much like you do with your work. I tip my hat to your self-awareness!

      Steve, thank you for the shot of inspiration again today!!!

      • Lin Keeling on June 29, 2022 at 1:26 pm

        absolutely true, Kate!

      • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 3:11 pm

        Kate,
        Bless you. I think I’m finally coming to the place where I understand it had to happen. I wouldn’t really understand the abuses of power that are prevalent everywhere if I hadn’t been subjected to it myself. In many ways because I won the generic lottery as a heterosexual white male born in the United States, I would be asleep to some of the injustices of the world. I think I’m getting to that age where I now understand it was a gift. So now what am I gonna do with it? That answer is beginning to come in to clarity, finally. Thank you.
        bsn

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 12:16 am

      Thank you for sharing Brian,

      who was it that said “since I will be no one’s slave, I will be no one’s master”? Interestingly, sometimes we live a dark experience, like you did with your step-dad (I am so sorry about all that, and I’m pretty sure you will change that dynamic with your enhanced nature and the privilege of knowledge now) in order to create a resistant force that will lead us to strong levels of justice and ethics.

      I remember an entrepreneur saying that “If you want to begin your own business, at first you must do all it’s obligations by yourself”. It took time to understand what he meant, but now I may tell: only if we do everything on our own, can we then understand and appreciate the difficulty of the circumstances of the dynamics of our enterprise/creations/families etc. including ethics etc. On the other hand, if we delegate from the start, we will miss a big piece of the picture. You can’t know something when you delegate all, and maybe you sometimes have to do it all by yourself again from time to time, to explore and reignite the ethics, the courage, the feeling of the unknown etc. (mid-course corrections). I feel a little bit confident for my creation, because I change all hats -from writer to investigator to editor to surviving while writing etc.- to finish it (it takes years and thousands of failures though, as you already know -but now that I think of it, isn’t that the “Great Adventure”?). It’s me against me, maybe the most beautiful war.

      The trick may be what you just said: be professionals not only in our business lives, but in our personal and communal lives too. I am proud for that greek notion of “nothing in excess/balance is ultimate” although I know we must force myself to harmonize that with the great discipline that is required in the modern aggressive and antagonistic world. Your thought, “(how’s that working out for us..?)” on delegation could be title for a song of revolution.

      Maybe the greatest advantage in an antagonistic world is to remain human in the strong sense. But that’s a hell lot difficult to achieve, if i judge from my temptations, my obligations, my weaknesses, the lack of money, and the enormous needs of everything around me: all these working on me simultaneously.

      Thanks again

  8. Stephen S. Power on June 29, 2022 at 7:22 am

    Wow, is that good advice. Fits the situation I’m in. I just finished a new novel and, times being what they are, I hope to get a two-book deal. The question is, What should be the second book? This is s a particularly tough question for me because it took five years, then three totally different outlines to get at the idea of this book. So I’ve been coming up with compelling first lines and general ideas just so I have something if I’m asked. I’m not sure all will work, but I’d become more sure if someone said, Ooh, I like that one. Do that.

  9. Mark Freeman on June 29, 2022 at 7:33 am

    Wow. I really needed this. I will make sure I have a slate from now on!

    • Mark Freeman on June 29, 2022 at 7:33 am

      Thank you, Steven, for sharing your wisdom with us!

  10. Mia Sherwood Landau on June 29, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Gut punch! Then for you, now for us. Wow.

  11. Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 7:56 am

    Ok, still thinking about this—and why I’m troubled by it all. I’ve come to see the artists as present day prophets. The creatives are pointing out to us the deeper truths, the hidden gems, how we have gone astray—and the idea that even our artists are completely beholden to materialism frightens me. Leaves me feeling alone and cold. Scared.

    That’s more honest. Again—in a weird reflective state of mind—but I just don’t like it. I don’t want creatives to starve—but I want greater truths. Deeper insight. Not this pop culture pablum. I have only watched 4-5 feature length movies in the last decade—it is almost all crap. It is porn without the sex.

    The great stuff seems to be television shows like Breaking Bad, Homeland, GOT…instead we’re fed a constant diet of superhero shows with LGBT+ characters. Women as warriors. I don’t know—but I don’t like the trend.
    bsn

    • MamaSquid on June 29, 2022 at 9:38 am

      While I agree that a cold capitalist mentality is not the solution, your two posts together suggest that you lament the emancipation of women, and resent having to hear our stories. Is that really who you are? Because we probably have more in common than you believe. I too am estranged from my parents, I too never had a safe place to land as a kid, and still wake up in a cold sweat when I dream of being at home again. I legally emancipated when I was seventeen and put myself through college and graduate school. But I also have a different view because of how I was treated due to my gender, and that experience absolutely informs my work. You don’t want to hear about that? Tough. Who made you the arbiter of whose stories get to be told?

      Basing your opinion of movies these days on five movies you’ve seen in the last decade is also just irrational. Major blockbuster cinema is getting less and less creative and innovative, I agree with you 100% there, but there’s still cool, weird stuff out there. I wish you understood how important “women as warriors” are to little girls, or LGBTQ heroes are to kids whose parents’ love is entirely conditional (again, you probably have more in common with them than you think.) When I was a kid, I had She-Ra. She gave me a sense of agency in a world that had a very specific set of expectations that I would diminish my own power. In those backwards days (80s, 90s, when it was still legal to rape your spouse) I think it was really viewed as unbecoming for a woman to be wholly herself, particularly if that self was in any way intelligent or assertive. I used to make up stories (as most writers do) where my bicycle was a motorcycle and I was a tough-talking lady cop. I drove around taking bullets like a champ and solving crimes. That stuff was fundamental to my development and how I viewed myself. That stuff was fundamental for my ability, when I left home at 17, to say, “Well, what needs to be done now? Let’s do it.” Did I ever stop and think for a second that I couldn’t succeed? No. Because of She-Ra. Because of Nancy Drew. Because of the precious few narratives I had showing women doing things.

      What I absolutely love is that my son, who is now two, is going to grow up exposed to all these stories of powerful women and like me, he’s not even going to hesitate to wonder if a woman can do something, or if a woman could be powerful and intelligent and uncompromising. He’s going to take it as a given.

      Those of us who aren’t the “default’ view of human often feel really galvanized by stories about ourselves, and just like anyone else, we want to tell stories about ourselves, because it helps us heal and because creativity itself is an empowering act, an end in itself. I don’t intentionally insert my worldview into my writing, but of course it’s different than what you would write or find interesting, because I’m a different person! I have been shaped by a wide range of experiences you have never had and could never relate to. Just because you don’t see the value in something doesn’t mean other people don’t see it as valuable. Just because I think 50 Shades of Gray is a piece of shit doesn’t invalidate the women who found it sexually empowering.

      I get that you’re feeling vulnerable here, and my intent is not to make you feel worse, but by asserting your stories as more important than the stories of people like me, you’re effectively abusing your power. You have a voice, one you could use to embrace all storytellers and help shape society for the better. Make it easier for people like me to have our stories taken seriously.

      I’m not asking for a response, because I’m feeling vulnerable too, and I’m writing this not to persuade you but because I want my truth out there just as much as you do. But since you’re in a reflective mood, maybe think about it.

      • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 10:30 am

        Mamasquid,
        I haven’t finished your post–but need to admit that I am wrestling with our culture. I do not resent women working–but I am wondering to myself if we are somehow missing something more important.

        I have grown up in a world in which women and other views are finally coming into their own–and I spent a year in Afghanistan where I saw with vivid clarity what happens to a society in which women are chattel.

        The multiculturalists told us to accept Pashto men having a harem of Tajik boys as their sex toys, to accept honor killing of daughters as somehow noble. I cannot judge because I’m from a different culture.

        Suffice to say they lost me at rape of boys and killing of girls.

        I have seen both poles from liberation to abject subjegation–and sadly–both poles on our planet are frozen wastelands uninhabitable to mankind.

        I think I’m trying to find a middle way in some way in my mind–obviously hamfisted and not very articulate — but I see us, our culture, our society, hell-bent on tossing hate-grenades and loading our weapons with blame bullets to fire at one another.

        Why are we behaving this way? I think it might be deep-seeded shame. I think we’ve lost something. I am thinking that we’ve somehow conflated our deepest, honest values for the lie of comfort, fame, money, shiny objects that–after consumption–are as nutritional as a Big Mac.

        I’m trying to figure it out–and please forgive me if I sound like I’m blaming all of the worlds problems on Women’s suffrage, or LGBT rights. I live in Tacoma, and voted for marriage–but, at the same time I am not comfortable with Drag Queen Story Hour in elementary school.

        Thank you for your honest critique. I used the women as warriors and LGBT superheroes as a lazy example when typing in my phone. I could–and should–have commented on lousy comedy, trite dramas, or simple regurgitation of a former best seller–and used examples that didn’t paint myself as a mysoginist. I don’t think that I am…but I have a habit of hiding the truth from myself quite often.

        Point taken.
        bsn

        • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 10:50 am

          Mamasquid–I’ve finished your response–I had to get something out before reading your entire post–well, because–if I read it — and some truth bombs hit me too directly–my initial response is always war and I don’t want that.

          In the Army, while on a break from a tactical march we say, “Take a knee, drink water, weapons out”–I think where we need to evolve is “Take a knee, drink water, weapons down.” I’m not there yet most days–sometimes–but not most days.

          What I wanted to say, initially when I read the first couple of sentences was “Mamasquid–I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that–I need to be more careful, responsible for my words…but honestly here I usually write in some glaze of stream of consciousness then hit submit before reviewing my thoughts.”

          Truth be told, if I did–I’d probably chicken out most days and just write, “Nice post Steve”.

          Lastly, I am deeply grateful you had the courage to push back on me. I always need that. I think we all do. We have no idea who we can become until we’re pressed upon by an immovable object and all the dross is smelted away.

          Another saying in the Army is, “I stand corrected.”

          I used poor examples which is another way of saying I was lazy in my thoughts and lazy in my communication. This site, this group of people deserve better. Thank you again.
          bsn

          • Wendy on July 11, 2022 at 6:42 am

            Who are you and why aren’t there more of you out there? I’ve enjoyed reading reasonable, articulate comments for once as opposed to all the horrible, uneducated hate coming from the bottom of any news article. I’m sad for what you had to go through as a young person, and for the pain you’ve had to endure. Carry on love warrior.

            WJC



  12. Derek on June 29, 2022 at 9:20 am

    Thank you Mr. Pressfield words I wish I could get my mother to read.

    In my own methodology I found that to enable me to let go of my current project, is to have a lineup of new characters waiting to perform for me in another.

    In this method over the years, (as it takes me at least 9 months each) I have build a good slate of screenplays and I can go from one to the other more easily.

    Not that I’m counting but it’s number 17 now and 18, and 19 are popping up to remind me that they want attention too.

    Cheers

    Derek

  13. Jim Luther on June 29, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Steve, I’m afraid you’re getting sucked into the production matrix. Based on your friend’s comments, what else is of value beyond production? Seems that the creative segment of society, yes, does need to be professional, but to purely reflect the headlong pursuit of the test of industry is short sighted.

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 12:42 am

      Thank you for commenting here with us, mr. Jim

      Giving my view on the subject, I must tell that Steve helped me and millions (!) of other people chase their dream and live a life of meaning. My whole world, including my relation to others, is shaped positively by his agonistic philosophy. The reason he remains blunt here, in my opinion, is because he brings out the archetype of the Warrior, which has such “to the point” traits. And this energy, coming from an extremely generous man in my view, created thousands, maybe millions of goods in our world. Judging only by me, I have put 4000+ hours to creating a creation because of his help, and it’s only me. As a friend here I bring in even more thoughts, but never to judge, but to “join forces”.

  14. Eivind Hamre on June 29, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Insightful read! Perhaps I should get myself a slate as well?

  15. Pam on June 29, 2022 at 9:40 am

    I appreciate your comments, Brian. I am experiencing a similar struggle, am feeling similarly disenchanted with the emptiness of art and genius constrained to a raw material valued only as much as it can be constrained to a factory-produced product and churned out for the masses. To say it is dissatisfying is a gross understatement. So far the place I land after processing (overthinking?) all of this for the umpteenth time is pretty much what Tolis said above “We must be as powerful as we can too, but never sacrifice the child inside. Only let it play free and protected by the fortress of our discipline.” I’d say the solution seems to striking a balance, but that’s not quite right either. It isn’t any more the solution than the 1980’s myth of “quality time” with one’s children was as good as- or better than- quantity time.

    To give my own context, I’m a mom to 12 kiddos going through a heavily contested divorce. For intelligent and intuitive people, no explanation is needed- obviously there are good reasons for this happening after 25 years of marriage. Let’s just say I’ve always been a single mom but now I’ll be able to do it freely without fighting his abusive ways. There’s much trauma to be processed, both for my kiddos and for me. And yet now I have to find the path to financial self-sufficiency, at the same time as everything else. I have to figure out which practical aspects are a necessity to allow me to do the things needed to provide financially when I am STILL only one person. My creative genius is in parallel state of conundrum. I’m free to mentor my children and curate a stable, safe, joyful home… but in order to work a job, the youngest ones have to be in childcare and/or school. Which takes me away from both them *and* my home. Now that I am finally out from under the oppression that squashed the person of who I am, I want to express it and exude my positive qualities to bless others, but how does that look within constraints of practicalities?? I found this blog after reading The War of Art, and part of my healing is finding my way back to the artist I was 30 years ago.

    The structure seems a prison to the genius, when truly it is the key that unlocks the door and sets it free. The difference is in embracing these as yin and Yang- it’s not in finding a constant set point of balance; rather it is riding the waves of homeostasis in grace, peace, and even joy.

    • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 4:44 pm

      Pam,
      What courage. As I’m coming to some degree of terms with my own history, I think I’m finally understanding the ‘smelting of the dross’ to find what is real. My heart breaks for you, and yet I’m more and more thinking about the dignity of suffering. Please do not dismiss my comment as dismissive to the pain.

      I have mentioned previously that a ‘warm man does not know how a cold man feels’ so–if you want to lead, you must get cold first. It informs our pre-cold ideas. It is true feedback and data (f-bomb ‘Big Data’). How can any of our politicians find a solution to homelessness without spending 30 days in a tent with them? How does anyone know what it feels like–and maybe–what is great about it?

      I am inspired by your words. It makes me want to be a better man–and to ensure that I keep my y-chromosome ability for violence only pointed at the true bullies of the world.
      bsn

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 1:11 am

      Thank you so much for the exceptional comment, Pam

      A divorced mother of 12? You are a hero. And I would add what Brian said above, that if our culture was not surface-leveled but deep, then you, your ex-partner, your children and all of us could have a so much better life and could be so much better if sex, crime and temptations were where they belong -exciting but on the surface- while above all there was philosophy of life (in the general meaning of the word, from ethics to cosmos to science etc.).

      The future is very promising, hold on and remember that you are an example for all of us. Find the answers to everything, they are *all* hidden in the progress of science and the world and I wish the best for all of you.

  16. Cathy Ryan on June 29, 2022 at 9:41 am

    Thanks again, Steve.

  17. Peter Brockwell on June 29, 2022 at 10:27 am

    Oh my goodness gracious! (I’m a Brit). I think Brian and the others are all talking past one another. You’re not listening to each other and seem even, in some cases, to ascribe bad motives. I read no bad intentions in B’s or anybody else’s input.

    Steve is absolutely right that if we want to sell works of art we have to forget the illusory ideal – this is not a perfect world, and artists have to compete for a few crusts – and pitch ourselves and the art as best we can. And that is a skill, to be learned and implemented.

    Back to my steamer and wallpaper stripping uchh…

    Peter

  18. Sam Luna on June 29, 2022 at 10:34 am

    It’s very interesting to see how today’s post touched a few nerves here.

    I attended the book signing for “36 Righteous Men” here in Los Angeles a couple years ago and Steve started the evening telling the audience he had 2 sets of readers: those that came to his work via The War of Art, and those who came via the novels such as Gates of Fire.

    The audience that night was as eclectic as this comments section. At one point Steve said something and a military veteran wearing a hat identifying himself as such nodded vigorously and called out “That’s because you’re a Marine!” Another comment by Steve had a lady with a lap full of quilting yarn asking him if he wouldn’t mind just reading from the book, as that is what she came for.

    Living in L.A. I totally get the full slate philosophy. As someone who doesn’t rely on writing to pay my bills I also get the disdain for the seemingly factory-like approach to making art. “The Art of Slow Writing” by Louise DeSalvo speaks to me more than posts such as this one, but like all of you I come here each week and get something a little different. Very good comments today.

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 1:21 am

      Dear Sam,

      thank you for your thoughts and for the book “the art of slow writing” which got my attention only from reading your words! I will order it in time.

      You bring forth another strong point, which is the necessity of the creator to survive (that is, money). This is maybe where Steve’s warrior-heart strikes, this is maybe the road that he himself walked through.

  19. Nick Sherman on June 29, 2022 at 11:37 am

    Man, sometimes people trip on Steve. Take it with a grain of salt guys. Nothing wrong with being competitive! Steve is trying to give us the Sauce, sharing his hard lived experience, so let the man share an anecdote!

    And BRIAN you aren’t doing anything wrong bub, share your perspective. You’re clearly a thoughtful guy.

    Everyone try to take the best from everyone. Let’s sharpen each other up!

    • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks Nick. I kinda feel like I bent the conversation in a direction that might not be helpful–but usually I just respond with my immediate, visceral reaction to Steve’s post. Truth be told…I’ve been feeling a bit naked before the Gods all day…
      bsn

  20. Lin Keeling on June 29, 2022 at 11:42 am

    To Brian–I had a similar reaction to Steve’s post today because it seemed contrary to his admonition that we connect with our Muse as our highest source and this seemed to be saying that we should connect with the marketplace. not the place I want to live in my head. It seemed similar to his post about value which confused some of us.
    I won’t put you to sleep with my views of our 21st Century Corporate Capitalist lives and the degradation of the soul it requires–I think we all know that here–and there is truth in the need to make choices that will allow us to survive here. But, I think we can reconcile these two ideas–the Slate with Putting our Ass where it needs to be–we need to be ready and willing to state our true purpose our true work in this world. To speak truth to Power even if it’s our own truth about our work. A truly scary prospect but unless we are willing to do that are we not hiding our work in a safe place? Yes, it probably needs to be held close and safe sometimes especially in its embryonic state, but we still need to have the clarity of purpose/mind/thought/speech that allows us to step forward and state what we believe and what we are doing without hesitation. Our work deserves that and you never know whose heart/mind you will touch by doing it. No, I’m not good at practicing what I’m preaching here. I have taught myself to speak out about a lot of things and in a lot of situations (I’m a natural introvert and hate tor draw attention) but I still hold back sometimes when I’m not sure how my work will be received. I’m trying to create some sort of armor but that sometimes feels like I’m only shielding the work again…beginning to blather so I’ll stop…. Does any of this make sense??

    and to Pam. Blessings to you for taking the steps you needed to free yourself! You are on a hard road and our society only makes it harder. You will get through it though-and your kids will be better for the choice you made.

    • Peggy Jo Farr on June 29, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      What a great share, Steve! I am now working on a “slate” for my artwork! Creative is the new currency! Cheers! Read new book! Kudos as well!

    • Brian Nelson on June 29, 2022 at 4:55 pm

      Lin,
      It makes 100% sense to me. Much of what I’ve been mulling around in my head is how ‘collective suffering’ (I think I coined that — I at least told my Soldiers that I was a big big fan of collective suffering for as long as I can remember) is so effective at building teams.

      It has a lot to do with armor. Why are we always armored up? Well…uh, because I’m a monster. You’re a monster. Cain slew Abel. To walk around defenseless is both naive and irresponsible. However–that keeps us from any degree of connection. It is like those plugs we put in outlets. We cannot connect with others, ourselves, nor the Muse or God. So we don’t lower our armor unless those around us have DEMONSTRATED THROUGH OUR ACTIONS that we are trustworthy–this includes ourselves. I think this might be the genius behind Steve’s ‘Turning Pro’. We have to prove to ourselves through our actions–not the hungover, “I’m never gonna drink again meaningless vow’–it is after 12 months of sobriety and making it through the holidays without a drink that we can lower our armor and maybe begin to connect with the Muse.

      Anyway…I too could also go on and on–I’ll keep this for my journal & hopefully something to publish one day. Thank you for your thoughts.
      bsn

      • Jürgen Strack on June 30, 2022 at 2:44 am

        ‘Collective suffering ‘ – we have a word for that in German. It’s WELTSCHMERZ

  21. Renita C Wellman on June 29, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    Thank You, Steve.
    Appreciate you. Truth
    Renita

  22. Melissa AC Sheperd on June 29, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    Options are Opportunities
    Having something else to present when the first isn’t received is a must. A few years ago, I was just on time which means I was late, to a SCBWI conference. One of the directors said there was an open spot for an agent pitch and asked if I wanted it. She told me to pitch ‘that Greek thing’, I was working on. My first agent pitch was a quiet picture book manuscript. The agent smiled nicely and asked if I was working on anything else. Well, yes. I elevator pitched my YA Greek ‘thing’. She liked it. She had studied the ancient world and like the story which was still in research and blocking stage. We discussed the story as a series of 4-5 books. My freebie agent wasn’t at all interested in my Greek ‘thing’ and asked what else I was working on. Giving her the option of three other stories, she chose the one she gravitated to. One agent’s interest is another agent’s daydream about lunch.

  23. derek on June 29, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    Didn’t famous old Epictetus say, if you want to write, write. He also wrote, no great thing is created suddenly,
    the rest is resistance. Don’t follow the mob, was another memorial gem.

  24. Peter Brockwell on June 30, 2022 at 12:27 am

    Brian,
    Thank you for sharing and making yourself vulnerable yesterday. You do it with style and gusto! And the blog is all the richer for it.

    Peter

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 1:28 am

      Peter, I agree 100%. It is wholeness that equals beauty in this world, except the forces of destruction.

  25. Jürgen Strack on June 30, 2022 at 2:59 am

    I love Steve’s post and have read what everyone has said, learning, admiring and enjoying being a part of it.

    I thought of the saying, ‘wipe the slate clean’ :). But
    Steve’s post has the effect of asking myself how I’d answer what else have you got?
    And the good news, for me, is I am writing a second book. My first one I was proud to finish, but it isn’t yet good enough. In fact, an agent I showed it to got annoyed with me saying I need to give more of myself!

    And so I plan to go on a writing course to improve. And yes, I’ve read Stephen King’s ‘On writing’, which I liked, but haven’t yet read the war of art. So there’s now a third way someone finds their way to Steve’s work, via this blog

    My main pursuit is performing stand-up comedy in the UK and after 14 years of trying I still always feel I’m only at the beginning. Never ceases to amaze me the amount of effort it takes; or simply what it takes.

    So that’s my current slate.
    Onwards and upwards dear creative friends.
    Have a great week x

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 3:46 am

      Thank you so much Jurgen

      I challenge you to also check the War of Art *audio* book. It changed my life.

      You did it, you wrote that book. Bravo. Now choose your destiny: if you, in your guts, don’t like it, then morph it to perfection -this may take years but it is your child, so the best time spent. If you like it on the other hand, then go on, write that second book and leave your legacy.

  26. Jürgen Strack on June 30, 2022 at 3:05 am

    “Just one more thing” (Columbo). Two, actually.

    I believe in never giving up.
    And that you can change your destiny.

    Jürgen

    • Tolis Alexopoulos on June 30, 2022 at 3:49 am

      Yes. Inspired by your other post, I say you can change your destiny because you can choose every future action that you act in every second of hour of life in the future. That building block that we have, that second (like Steve says), is maybe one of the secrets of changing whole destinies. Because we have millions of those seconds in our service.

  27. Donna on July 2, 2022 at 10:47 am

    The Slate, Good name for another book.

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