Steven Pressfield Blog

Scuffling in Tinseltown

When I came out to Hollywood from New York, one of my first paying gigs was working on a low-budget action script with the director Ernie Pintoff. Ernie had actually won an Oscar (you can look it up) for a short subject called “The Critic” with Mel Brooks. But mostly he made his living doing episodic television. Ernie and I would work at his house in Outpost Canyon. We sat side by side at a huge oak table in his kitchen. Sometimes we’d work for eight or ten hours at a crack. I’d drive home exhausted. Ernie never spoke to…

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The Non-Zero Sum Character

We’ve been positing in our series on Villains in film and fiction that the Bad Guy as a general rule believes in a world of scarce resources, a cosmos in which all men and women are born selfish/evil … and that this condition—“the state of nature,” as Thomas Hobbes phrased it—produces inevitably a “war of all against all.” The villain in other words sees the universe as a zero-sum proposition, i.e. a world in which, if he is to gain, he must take away from you and me. In this post let’s examine the opposite proposition. Let’s consider the world…

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Kati’s Reply (and Mine)

I wanted to post Kati’s letter as soon as it came in because I felt certain that there would be a strong and passionate response. But the outpouring of support, encouragement, tough love, not to mention some pretty deep wisdom overwhelmed me. I think it overwhelmed Kati too. My thanks to everyone who wrote in. The notes were so heartfelt and contained so much kindness and caring, it almost didn’t matter what specific “advice” or kicks-in-the-pants they contained. The gesture was everything. Kati responded right away, but because her reply appeared in the Comments section on the same day the…

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“Writing is a Bad Idea”

I got this note a few days ago from a writer named Kati Reijonen. I have no prior acquaintance with Kati. In a raw and quite brave way, Kati’s letter expresses the “heart of darkness” that all of us as writers and artists carry around in our guts. With Kati’s permission I have reprinted the entire note below. If you like, please respond to Kati in the Comments section. I’d be very interested to hear what we all think. I’ll post the answer I sent to Kati next week.   Dear Pressfield and company, I am a Finnish writer, just…

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Resistance = Fear

Artists and warriors live and die by one primal emotion.

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Our Michael Moment

Every great second act has a midpoint. In this instant something happens that ratchets our entire story to a higher level. The stakes go up, way up. Characters whom we thought we understood must suddenly be viewed in an entirely different, and far more serious, manner. The story upshifts. Every relationship in the narrative alters. Until this moment, we had thought the drama was about “X.” At once we understand it’s about “X squared.” MICHAEL They want to have a meeting with me, right? It’ll be me, McCluskey and Sollozzo. Let’s set the meeting. Get our informers to find out where…

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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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A New Video Series from Steven Pressfield

Subscribe here for the full series.


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.