Writing Wednesdays

“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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What’s the In? What’s the Out?

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

  In the movie biz, there’s a question that studios and development companies often put to any screenplay they’re evaluating: What’s the in? What’s the out? What they mean is, “What is this script’s opening image and closing image? Do the two work together? Are they cohesive? Are they on-theme? Are they are far apart emotionally as possible?” This is a really helpful series of questions for any creative person who’s trying to evaluate his or her own work. I use it all the time. What’s the in? What’s the out? These questions help if you’re designing a restaurant, writing…

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The Artist’s Journey in the Real World

By Steven Pressfield | 29 Comments

  I described in The War of Art the moment when my own artist’s journey began. It was in New York City. I was supporting myself driving a cab. I sat down one night in my sublet at 84th and York and tried for about two hours to write. It worked. For the first time in nearly a decade of trying, the act pulled me together instead of breaking me apart. I knew I had turned a corner. I knew I would be all right. But here’s the key question:               What happened after that?   Did I immediately achieve…

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Steven Soderbergh and the Artist’s Journey

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

In 2007, Steven Soderbergh won the Academy Award as Best Director for Traffic. I remember his acceptance speech almost word for word. Here’s the link to the video. (It’s better to watch it than to read it [even better to do both] because he delivered his message in such a humble and heartfelt manner): Suddenly, going to work tomorrow doesn’t seem like such a good idea. My daughter Sarah’s asleep in London. She’s missing this, unfortunately. There are a lot of people to thank. Rather than thank some of them publicly, I think I’ll thank all of them privately. What I…

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The Prodigal Son and The Artist’s Journey

By Steven Pressfield | 17 Comments

I remember when I was a kid reading the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son. I never really got the point of it. I found myself siding with the elder son. “Hey, Dad, what’s the story? My younger brother takes his inheritance early and bolts from the farm. He swaggers into the big city, blows every penny on gambling and fast living and then comes crawling home begging for forgiveness. The kid’s a bum! Yet here you are, Pop, breaking out the fatted calf and rejoicing at your wayward child’s return, when I, the Responsible One, have been here all…

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Good Will Hunting and the Artist’s Journey

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

First, let me say thanks to everybody who stuck with these blog posts through the serialization of The Artist’s Journey. And a special thanks to everybody who actually ordered the book. I hope it’s helpful. But let’s get to Good Will Hunting. I watched the movie for probably the tenth time on TV a few nights ago. I thought, Wow, this is the Hero’s Journey/Artist’s Journey exactly. Do you remember the movie? (It came out in 1997 and launched Matt Damon’s and Ben Affleck’s careers. As co-writers they won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay that year.) Here’s a quick…

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