Steven Pressfield Blog

The Road Not Taken

I can see Robert Frost’s yellow wood. In my mind, it’s always Fall and always the golden hour before sunset. A thick layer of leaves blankets the ground and yet every tree is full, as if not a leaf has fallen. This image has been bubbling up uninvited these past few months. One minute I’m working and the next I’m leaning back in my chair as my mind wanders through a mashup of Van Gogh yellow and Klimt gold and a wee bit of Hudson River Valley, all bathed in amber.

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“A” Story and “B” Story

  In the movie biz there’s a terminology: “A” Story and “B” Story. (There’s also a “C,” “D,” and “E” story.) This is an interesting concept that has carry-overs for us in the fiction world. Nonfiction too. The “A” story is the main story, the story in the foreground. In Moby Dick the “A” story is Ahab’s pursuit of the whale. In The Bourne Identity, it’s Jason Bourne’s search for who he really is. In To Kill a Mockingbird it’s Atticus Finch’s endeavor to save Tom Robinson. The “B” story is the secondary story, the story in the background. In many…

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Do You Believe?

For the 14th year in a row, my kids and I drove to Pentagon City Mall for a picture with Santa. Now 15 and 11, they know the fat guy in the red suit is an echo of their childhood. Still there, and still nice, and still happiness-and-laughter inducing, but not the same as before the veil was lifted. How could it be the same? Once you know, there’s no going back.

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Our Characters and Ourselves

I’ve been thinking about an obscure point of storytelling, and I wonder if this isn’t something that a lot of us have been aware of but maybe haven’t thought about too deeply. (I’m gonna get a little writer-wonky in this post, so please bear with me.) We know as fiction writers that our story (Act One) starts in “the Ordinary World.” Then something happens (the Inciting Incident) that propels our hero out of her or his everyday life and into “the Extraordinary World.” Dorothy is whisked away from Kansas, Luke bolts from the planet Tatooine, Wonder Woman leaves the island…

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First Things First

A jab is a quick, sharp punch. It’s the setup for other punches—that seemingly small thing that serves you well in the ring. “It is their most important weapon. Fighters throughout time have spilled blood and sweat attempting to perfect it—to make it fast, to make it sharp, Every punch, heavier than the last.

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Welcome, JABs Subscribers!

Thanks and welcome to everybody who leapt off the cliff with us and signed up to receive a year’s worth of Black Irish JABs. The response has been beyond our hopes. Thank you! To anyone still teetering on the fence, lemme take today’s post to give you the old-fashioned hard sell. (Then I’ll stop, I promise.) On second thought, let me just list the titles and premises of some of this year’s coming JABs: JAB #1 (December): How Does a Story Start? This one’s about the Inciting Incident of a novel or a movie. It talks about the hero acquiring…

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Print on Demand Wins

Steve announced the release of Black Irish Books’ first subscription-based product earlier this week. Fitting in with Black Irish’s boxing glove logo, the subscription features “JABs” from Steve—mini-books that pack a punch—starting with two books from Steve this month, and then one a month starting in February.

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Introducing Black Irish JABs

For those who can’t wait, here’s the link to get the full story. (Oh, and before I forget, there’s a great Black Irish baseball cap that comes along with the JABs.) But let’s back up first to say what Black Irish JABs are, and how you can use them. How do you learn to write? I mean really. How does an aspiring artist of any kind (or even an accomplished pro) get her ideas onto paper? How does she tell her stories? How does she make it all work? The standard prescription is read read read and write write write….

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Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose and Sometimes it Rains

From the Archives, via May 10, 2013. The story of David and Goliath is one of history’s greatest reruns—played out on repeat in books and boardrooms and battlefields. Big Guy goes after Little Guy. Little Guy finds inner strength. Little Guy taps into inner strength. Little Guy fights Big Guy. Big Guy falters. Little Guy knocks Big Guy’s lights out. The David and Goliath story is the story of the “win.” Think Luke against Darth Vader, Daniel Larusso against the entire Cobra Kai dojo, and pretty much any Disney classic (insert any princess or talking animal against any evil witch…

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Don’t You Hate It When …

Don’t you hate it when sites or stores do “teasers?” I do. They tell you that “something” is coming [maybe they even give you a sneak peek], trying to snag your interest and gin up your anticipation. But then they leave you hanging and don’t tell you what that “something” actually is. I hate that. And I’m gonna do it right now in this post. (Sorry!) Next week, in this Wednesday space, I’ll be introducing a product that Shawn and Callie and I have been working on for more than three years. At various points over that time, we thought…

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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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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.



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.



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.



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?"



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


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.