Writing Wednesdays

The Pain Zone

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

John Naber won four swimming gold medals at the ’76 Olympic Games in Montreal, each in world-record time. He said something in an interview once that sticks with me to this day. A reporter asked Naber, “What’s the difference between a good swimmer and a great swimmer?” Here’s how Naber answered (I’m paraphrasing from memory): The thing about competitive swimming is that the instant you hit the water, you enter the Pain Zone. Your heart is hammering, your lungs are on fire, your muscles are straining to their maximum. It’s hell. The difference between a good swimmer and a great…

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It All Starts With the Writer

By Steven Pressfield | 24 Comments

The actress reads a book or screenplay and says, “I want to do this.” We applaud her vision. The editor discovers a manuscript and publishes it. We salute his taste. The director, the producer, the financier find a hot property and scoop it up. We give ’em an award. I’m not saying these artists don’t deserve their plaudits. All I’m saying is It all begins with the writer. The fun starts with you and me. Everybody else waits downstream. Everyone else comes late to the party. Others may interpret. They may mount, they may discover, they may finance, underwrite, refine,…

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Small. Simple. Powerful.

By Callie Oettinger | 13 Comments

This week I received a postcard from Chewy.com. It was handwritten and hand-addressed. It was personalized. It led me to place another order.

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“This Will Change Your Life.” Really?

By Steven Pressfield | 18 Comments

  If you’re an aspiring writer (or even an established one), you’ve seen websites and seminars and workshops that promise to “help you write a bestseller.” I’ve read and attended some of these myself. And I’ve learned from them. They haven’t been a complete waste. But let’s dig a little deeper and ask ourselves what’s going on in our minds when we buy into such a promise. “Bestseller” in this lexicon equals “success.” The promise between the lines is   “This will change your life”   Fill in the blanks for what you imagine that means. Money. Fame. A better…

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Ins and Outs in a Love Story

By Steven Pressfield | 7 Comments

Remember The Way We Were, the 1973 blockbuster starring-vehicle for Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford? The theme song, sung by Babs, won an Oscar; the film itself was rated by AFI as #6 on the list of Greatest Love Stories of All Time. But let’s focus, you and I, on the THEME and how it is expressed in the Opening and Closing Images. Remember our third rule of In and Outs Club: The opening and closing images must be on-theme. The In to The Way We Were is the titles sequence. It’s a montage of quick scenes of students at…

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“I Believe in America . . . “

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

“I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion … “ These are the opening lines of The Godfather. They’re spoken in extreme closeup by the undertaker Bonasera in a heavy Italian accent. Bonasera speaks out of deep shadow. He recounts with painful emotion how his beautiful young daughter, defending her honor, was brutally beaten by two young men, “not Italians,” whom the American courts subsequently let go free. The camera slowly pulls back as Bonasera relates his daughter’s woe, until the frame has widened enough that we begin to see…

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Lawrence of Arabia’s Motorcycle

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

  We’ve been talking in this series about Ins and Outs—Opening and Closing Images in books and movies. We declared that the first rule of Ins and Outs Club is The Opening and Closing Images of our story should resonate with each other. They should look as alike as reasonably possible. An example we cited was the 1953 Western Shane, where the lone-rider hero (played by Alan Ladd) enters the Valley on the In and exits via the exact same path on the Out. We said that the second rule of Ins and Outs Club is At the same time,…

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Self-doubt is Good

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

  Last night for some reason I found myself thinking about my darkest hours as a writer. The period lasted about ten years, more if I include a contiguous stretch where I was too paralyzed to write at all. Was it Resistance? Was that the foe? No. The enemy was self-doubt. Or put another way, lack of self-belief. I may be wrong but I have a feeling that’s the Big Enemy for all of us. In a way, Resistance is self-doubt. That’s the form it takes. That’s the weapon it uses against us. But self-doubt somehow transcends Resistance. It stands…

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Blake Snyder on Ins and Outs

By Steven Pressfield | 6 Comments

Here’s a quick In and Out from Good Will Hunting, i.e. the opening and closing images from the film. The In: Chuckie (Ben Affleck) drives his beat-up sedan down a residential alley and pulls up behind the ramshackle South Boston house where his buddy Will Hunting (Matt Damon) lives. Chuckie is picking up Will to take him to work. Clearly Chuckie has made this trip every day for years and expects to do it for decades into the future. Chuckie trots up the steps to the back door, knocks, Will answers and off they go. The Out: Chuckie drives the…

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Ins and Outs, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 12 Comments

The first rule of Ins and Outs Club is The Opening and Closing Images of our story should look as alike as reasonably possible. The second rule of Ins and Outs Club is

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