Steven Pressfield Blog

Do This Every Day

It was 1990-something. I was working in a small mom-and-pop publishing house just down I95 from Health Communications, the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul. My boss wanted a series just like that.

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Introducing Shane

  I love the movie Shane. In my opinion it’s the greatest Western ever, surpassing even The Searchers and The Wild Bunch and High Noon, not to mention Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Unforgiven. I’m aware that many reading this post have not seen Shane, or may not have even heard of it. The film did come out in 1953, which is, I admit, a few years ago. So I understand. Nonetheless, if you’ll forgive me, let me make a pitch here and now for Shane, the classic Western starring Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Brandon deWilde…

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Glove Before Stick

From the archives, via September 16, 2011. Fifteen years ago, I worked at St. Martin’s Press. It was (and still is) one of the big six publishing players. If ever there is a sitcom about book publishing, it should be set in the 1990s at St. Martin’s Press. What a cast of characters… Anyway, the head of the company was a man named Thomas McCormack, a real autocrat with more than a few eccentricities. Every day, Tom would order a tuna fish sandwich and a small cup of Vanilla ice cream from the ancient delicatessen across the street (http://www.eisenbergsnyc.com/). He…

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The Villain Adapts, but Does Not Change

  Consider the Alien. It adapts but does not change. It starts out (I’m thinking of the 1979 Alien, directed by Ridley Scott) as an egg. OMG, it springs onto the visor of Kane’s (John Hurt) space helmet! Wait … now it’s an ugly, tentacled blob attached to his face. Hold on—it just leapt out of his chest and scurried out of the room! It’s medium-sized … It’s bleeding acid-blood! It’s huge! The villain adapts. It comes after the hero in protean forms, from all directions, using all kinds of ploys and stratagems. The Thing. Species. Human villains too keep…

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Art and Polarity

From the archives, via June 20, 2012. The other day I overhead this conversation: Man #1: “I ran into Frank Smith (not his real name) at the beach yesterday…” Man #2: “Isn’t that the guy who cheated on his wife, got a DWI, and said all of those nasty things about Jill’s daughter in law?” Man #1: “…Well…yes…but I try not to judge.” I run into this “I don’t judge” stuff a lot and it infuriates me on many levels. But as this is a blog about what it takes to create art, I’ll just address why this “moral position”…

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Kurosawa on Villains

  We were talking last week about how the villain never changes. The hero does. But never the Bad Guy. Here’s Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, not to mention Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, etc.) quoted in a 1991 article in the L.A. Times: “(Akira) Kurosawa, the greatest director who ever lived, said that villains have arrived at what they’re going to be . . . that’s their flaw, but that heroes evolve–they’re open to change and growth.” Kasdan in this context was referring to his own aspirations as a moviemaker….

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Brian Wilson, Warren Buffett, Albert Einstein, and Ruth Stone

From the archives, via May 5, 2017. In the documentary Beach Boys: The Making of Pet Sounds, Al Jardine said Brian Wilson “sees things I don’t think the rest of us see and hears things, certainly, that we don’t hear. He has a special receiver going on in there, in his brain.” What is that special, indefinable “it” about Brian Wilson? Is it really related to seeing, hearing, and receiving? And, if it is, what’s different about how he sees, hears, and receives? What of the rest of us? Why aren’t we all walking around composing “God Only Knows” or any…

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The Villain Doesn’t Change

  The craziest working arrangement I ever had in the screenwriting biz was when I worked for a producer I’ll call Joan Stark. Joan insisted that I write in her office. I had to come in every day. Joan gave me a little cubbyhole beside the photocopy machine. I’d work on pages all morning and half the afternoon. Then we’d meet and Joan would go over the day’s work and give me corrections. Every day she had problems with the same character—the villain. She kept making me rewrite his scenes. One day I asked why. What mistake was I making?…

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A Correction: Nothing Always Works With Everyone

Last Friday I wrote that the list of things below always work. Hard work has always worked. Being honest has always worked. Doing the right thing has always worked. Keeping promises has always worked. Being transparent has always worked. Creating something of value has always worked. Starting small has always worked. Communicating in more than 140 characters has always worked. Picking up the phone or meeting in person, instead of only texting or emailing has always worked.

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The “B” Story Rides to the Rescue of the “A” Story

We touched briefly in last week’s post upon the idea that the “B” story “rides to the rescue” of the “A” story, usually at the start of Act Three. Let’s examine this principle in more detail.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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.