Steven Pressfield Blog

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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Your Agent Wants a Second Book

  As you read this, are you at some point—beginning, middle, or end—in the writing of your first book? Start thinking about Book #2. I’m serious. I know when we’re up to our eyeballs in alligators it’s hard to start planning ahead to draining the next swamp. But athletes think in terms of careers, as do dancers and filmmakers and restaurauteurs and entrepreneurs. You and I need to too. Can you picture a shelf of books? Your books. Ten of ’em. Fifteen. Twenty. Can you imagine not just one title but an actual body of work? It’s in you. You…

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Up From the Trenches

About eighteen months ago I wrote a series for this blog titled “Report From the Trenches.” The posts were about a particularly ugly run of months when I was struggling with a book-in-progress that had crashed at the finish line. The struggle was about starting over. It was about not caving in to the massive Resistance that arises when you, the writer, have to go back to Square One and rethink everything. That book was published yesterday. Like just about everybody who reads this blog, I have a really hard time flogging my own stuff. So all I’ll say is the…

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Being a Writer is Like Being an Athlete

  I’ve never met LeBron James or Tom Brady but I think about them frequently (and other athletes of that same hyper-disciplined mindset) as I go about my day. They’re human beings, with normal, real-life stuff they have to take care of. But they’re also on a mission. That makes them different from most people … and makes their challenges different too. If Serena Williams has a match this afternoon on Centre Court at Wimbledon, she still has to eat breakfast. Pick an outfit. Take care of her hair. Serena has a baby daughter. She has a husband. She has people…

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A Prayer to the Muse

  The first thing I do when I enter my office each morning is to say a prayer to the Muse. I say it out loud in dead earnest. The prayer I say (this is in The War of Art, page 119) is the invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey, translation by T.E. Lawrence, the Oxford-educated classical scholar also known as Lawrence of Arabia. We were speaking last week about conceiving of our office/studio as a sacred space. For me, this prayer is part of that process. The prayer was given to me by one of my first writing…

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The
Warrior
Archetype

A New Video Series from Steven Pressfield

Subscribe here for the full series.

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.