Steven Pressfield Blog

Glaukos and Sarpedon

[I’m starting (actually I started it a couple of weeks ago) an informal series on Instagram, where I will be recommending books on leadership—primarily military but also corporate, nonprofit, and so forth. The first book, inevitably, will be the Iliad. Doing some preliminary research I stumbled onto this post from nine years ago, before we were even doing “Writing Wednesdays.” I bring it back today, just for the literary greatness of the passages quoted from Homer. I hope our readers judge it worth their time and attention.]   Was there a greater war story, ever, than Homer’s Iliad? It’s almost a…

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Art is Real

When I had reached the depths of my own hero’s journey, living in an abandoned cinder-block house with no doors or windows, no electricity, no bathroom and no running water, I found that my requirements in reading material had altered dramatically. I couldn’t read even good books, from outstanding authors, books I had read and loved in the past. They didn’t work for me any more. They felt shallow. They didn’t give me what I needed. The only works I could read were Homer, Shakespeare and the King James Bible. I loved these. I would crack the Old or New…

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Your Hero’s Journey and Mine

I’m from the Northeast. But my hero’s journey played out in the South. My family is middle-class, but my journey was strictly blue-collar. Why? Something impelled me to that part of the country and that stratum of society. I drove tractor-trailers, I worked on oil rigs, I picked fruit as a migrant laborer; I lived in hellholes without electricity and running water; my friends were mechanics and roustabouts and body-and-fender men. Why? Had I been in control of my journey, I could have selected any one of hundreds of other places and people and odysseys. Something made me choose this…

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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. Slept. (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…

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Art is Artifice

Art, by definition, is artifice. It’s fake. It’s not “real” in the sense that a sunset is real, or a trout or a pomegranate. Art is a work crafted with calculation, forethought, and skill to create either the simulacrum of something real (a painting of a sunset, say) or to express an insight into, or attempt to bring order out of, nature or the experience of life. Art is made by man, not God. The simple fact that art is made, not discovered or revealed, makes it artifice. But art is also real. The pomegranate in the painting may not…

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Perfectionism = Resistance

Have you ever blown an entire morning noodling with a single paragraph or, worse, a solitary sentence? Resistance has outfoxed you. You have hung up an entire battalion trying to capture an outhouse.

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Hit the Page Running

My mantra when I finally sit down to work is Hit the page running. What I mean by that is to plunge in immediately. First minute. First second. First millisecond. Why do I do this? Resistance. I don’t want to give Resistance the slightest opening to worm its way into my brain and start me “thinking.” No dawdling. No cogitating. No mulling over. Start. Get to work. Get into the flow. If I’m working on Draft #1 of a new project, I will pick up immediately where I left off yesterday. Without “thinking,” I’ll continue telling the story. If I…

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Ego and Self (and Resistance)

Let’s revisit the quote from Rabbi Mordecai Finley that we cited two weeks ago. “There is a second self inside you, an inner, shadow Self. This self doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t love you. It has its own agenda, and it will kill you. It will kill you like cancer. It will kill you to achieve its agenda, which is to prevent you from actualizing your Self, from becoming who you really are. This shadow self is called, in the Kabbalistic lexicon, the ‘yetzer hara.’ The yetzer hara, Steve, is what you would call Resistance.” I believe absolutely that…

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Resistance Thrives in Darkness

Resistance kicked my butt for almost a decade in my twenties. I’ve written about this in The War of Art. I crossed the country thirteen times in that era, driving my ’65 Chevy van, for no reason whatsoever except that I was running away from myself and my obligation to do my own work and follow my own calling. But here’s the Big Takeaway: The reason Resistance won was that I had no idea it existed. Resistance thrives in darkness. Resistance loves invisibilty. Resistance’s most diabolical trick is that it masquerades so convincingly as our own voice. When you and…

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A Second (Bad) Self

“There is a second self inside you, an inner, shadow Self. This self doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t love you. It has its own agenda, and it will kill you. It will kill you like cancer. It will kill you to achieve its agenda, which is to prevent you from actualizing your Self, from becoming who you really are. This shadow self is called, in the Kabbalistic lexicon, the ‘yetzer hara.’ The yetzer hara, Steve, is what you would call Resistance.” Rabbi Mordecai Finley, in conversation, July 4, 2010 Rabbi Mordecai Finley of Ohr HaTorah congregation in Los Angeles (one…

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2020 MASTERMIND

Join Steven Pressfield's Mastermind and join him for a monthly live Q&A and get access to 12 new titles.

FREE MINI COURSE

Start with this War of Art [27-minute] mini-course. It's free. The course's five audio lessons will ground you in the principles and characteristics of the artist's inner battle.

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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.

noboybookcover

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.

The-War-of-Art

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.

Turning-Pro

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?"

The-Authentic-Swing

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.

do the work book banner 1

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.