Last week in LitChat we discussed where ideas come from, a conversation geared to the reader and the writer. We’re talking primarily to writers this week with a conversation about what to do with the ideas when they come. Successful authors understand the necessity of productive writing time–a time devoted to capturing the words that give substance to the ideas. What is it that holds writers back from deploying the skills they have to achieve victory in their writing endeavors? Steven Presssfield would say it’s Resistance.
Steven Pressfield graduated from Duke University in 1965. His struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took 17 years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in his 2002 book, The War of Art. Steven has worked as an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout and attendant in a mental hospital. He has picked fruit in Washington state and written screenplays in Tinseltown.
With the publication of The Legend of Bagger Vance in 1995, Steven became a writer of books once and for all. His writing philosophy is, not surprisingly, a kind of warrior code–internal rather than external–in which the enemy is identified as those forms of self-sabotage that Pressfield has labeled “Resistance” with a capital R (in The War of Art) and the technique for combating these foes can be described as “turning pro.”
Steven believes in previous lives. He believes in the Muse. He believes that books and music exist before they are written and that they are propelled into material being by their own imperative to be born, via the offices of those willing servants of discipline, imagination and inspiration whom we call artists. Steven’s conception of the artist’s role is a combination of reverence for the unknowable nature of “where it all comes from” and a no-nonsense, blue-collar demystification of the process by which this mystery is approached. In other words, a paradox.
Follow Steven on Twitter at @SPressfield