Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants To Be

By Steven Pressfield | Published: April 17, 2013

If you wanna get strong, go to the gym.

Piano

How to get to Carnegie Hall

If you wanna get fast, go to the track.

If you wanna get rich, go to (I’ve never figured that one out).

The point is: where the body goes, the spirit follows.

Therefore, move thy butt.

Put your ass where your heart wants to be.

If you want to paint, don’t agonize, don’t ikonize, don’t self-hypnotize. Shut up and get into the studio. Once your physical envelope is standing before the easel, your heart and mind will follow.

If you want to write, plant your backside in front of the typewriter. Don’t get up from the chair, no matter how many brilliantly-plausible reasons your Resistance-churning brain presents to you. Sooner or later your fingers will settle onto the keys. Not long after that, I promise, the goddess will slip invisibly but powerfully into the room.

That’s the trick. There’s nothing more to it.

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

33 Responses to “Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants To Be”

  1. Patrick
    April 17, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Thanks again Steve. About a decade ago in medical school my zany anatomy lab partner Jake Brayboy had a saying that got our group through all the grueling hours of detailed memorization–ASS POWER–the ability to sit down and do the work of putting together the pieces of this new foreign language (latissimus dorsi is innervated by…thoracodorsal nerve).
    This morning I am up again to write, trying to establish a new pattern of ass power to bring words to the page (I was an English major UNC not Duke sorry) and can still hear the well meaning advice of my writing professor–medicine first, then you can write. Now resistance has a million reasons for me not to write, but as your post so timely reminded, it’s the heart-ass connection that counts.

    • Sonja
      April 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Ass power! That’s awesome. I gotta remember this!

  2. April 17, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Simple. Direct. True.

    We are odd creatures that we frequently need to be reminded of this.

    Thanks, Steven.

  3. April 17, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Brilliant. If you wanna get rich, make this into a poster. ;)

  4. April 17, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Okay, then. I will. :)

  5. April 17, 2013 at 7:13 am

    “If you want to write, plant your backside in front of the typewriter.” -> Hold on a minute let me fire up my time machine.

  6. Randy Stuart
    April 17, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Steve, you said it best in The Ware of Art: Writing is easy; sitting down to write is hard.

    Another great post! Cheers.

  7. Randy Stuart
    April 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

    War, not ware.

  8. April 17, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Love this. Reminds me of this early post on “Just Show Up”:

    http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2009/09/writing-wednesdays-9-just-show-up/

    • Basilis
      April 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

      My exact same thought, Jeff!

      I’ve heard the phrase:
      “Walk it how you talk it”.

      Perhaps is these two articles:
      “Work it how you talk it”, also fits.

  9. April 17, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I so agree! I just shared this with my amazingly disciplined fifteen year old with whom I often talk about ‘how’ to get things done. She teaches me daily. I agree about the poster idea. Or a note card. Or how about I just write this on a nice piece of paper and tape it to my desk?
    Subscribing.
    Sincerely,
    Suzi

  10. skip
    April 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

    ah ha! the door to one’s passion is found on their arse! thank you, obi wan.

  11. Sonja
    April 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Brilliant in its simplicity. Thanks, Steven.

  12. April 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    On it! Got my daily word count for my current WIP, and it’s so doable… so I’m off to write…

  13. April 17, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Dr. Richard Wiseman’s newest book is called “The As If Principle.” Based on William James’ claim that if you want a quality, simply act as if you have it, and it will develop.

    Wiseman’s research proves it true, over and over again.

  14. April 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Great post. I think though, it’s not where the body goes, the spirit follows. It’s where the spirit is, the body should follow, or you should my thy butt to where your spirit already resides, so they can live together in perfect harmony. Just a thought.

  15. Melissa
    April 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I like it. I am reading Warrior Ethos right now. I think this can be related to part 1 topic 6 where it is says ‘courage – in particular, stalwartness in the face of death- must be considered the foremost warrior virtue.’ And it goes on to talk about a Roman detachment that was surrounded by their enemy. The Romans refused to surrender… they were staying where their hearts – courage, honor, warrior ethos – wanted to be. They would rather die with honor than give up and surrender to the enemy.

  16. April 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    You da best.

  17. April 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Funny how these are things we know but we need people to remind us :) Thanks

  18. TS
    April 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Great book so far. As some of the other posters have mentioned, it is brilliant in its simplicity. I def enjoy the relation to the military mindset. Its all about living by a code of ethics. Although we as a military are very tribal, there is that one overwhelming difference, our honor.

  19. April 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Every 90 days or so you can simply send this post out again.
    I’ll thank you for it every time.

    This is precisely why I installed a seatbelt on my Herman Miller Writing Chair.
    Sit down.
    Buckle up.
    No excuses.

  20. IAcon
    April 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I love the “put your ass where your heart wants to be” concept!! It’s so true. Many of us make those comments about the things in life that we want to have but we never set the milestones necessary to get there. Sometimes we have to throw ourselves to the wolves, so to speak, to get us those things in life that we want and we feel we deserve. But we have to be able to get our asses where our heart wants to be.

  21. April 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Well the title says it all, and got a huge laugh out of me. Awesome :)

    The thing I think people forget is that life is short. Get your ass ‘there’ today!! Tomorrow may never come.

  22. Rebecca Frost
    April 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Thank you!

  23. April 22, 2013 at 6:45 am

    “Move thy butt!” I believe I just found my new mantra :)

  24. April 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Let me know when you figure the “rich” one out. :) I think you’re being modest…

  25. Janis
    April 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    There’s a Yiddish word for this: sitzfleisch. The patience to just stubbornly park your ass on the chair and work long enough at something to get it done. I love that word.

    You know though, I’ve found that one of the most under-appreciated aspects of creativity and inspiration is that it doesn’t have to happen at the canvas, at the piano, or at the laptop. In fact, you’d better not wait for that. A good writer will play with words in their head all day long, and by the time they get home that night, they don’t sit at the laptop and start having ideas, but they empty out all the ideas that have welled up for the other 23 hours in the day into the laptop.

    I’ve done that. I also do it with my piano. I’m thinking about music all the time, and by the time I get home, or by the time Saturday morning rolls around, I can sit down at the thing and just start in. Artists are the same way; they will roll ideas around all day long, and when they finally pull on the smock and pick up the brush, they already have an idea of what to start putting up there.

    We fetishize having the time to actually be in front of our instrument, be that a canvas, a laptop, a piano, or whatever. We all need to be rolling ideas around 24/7. If you wait until you are sitting in front of your laptop before you start going, “Okay, I need an idea now please!” it’s already too late.

    By the time Saturday morning arrives, a writer/composer/artist will have gotten an idea while stuck in traffic or eating lunch on Tuesday and worked it over in their heads for the rest of the week, and they can pick up the brush and immediately get to work.

    We really neglect to appreciate how much work must be done outside the studio. Searching for inspiration and working over ideas is a 24/7/365 thing. Do that enough, and all you will need is an hour a night to get some really good stuff done.

    • Marco Salta
      October 31, 2013 at 6:09 am

      Great post!

      Just worked through the book “The War of Art” in a devastating short amount of time, although speed doesn’t matter but it reveals where you’re passion lies. Anyway, I absorbed it all. Yet all the way through I had a recurring question.

      What is my territory? Which Muse should I call upon? What talent is buried underneath the surface of my Ego?

      I think you just pointed out the notion that I knew it all along. It’s not writing per see but the way I like to play around with words, especially concerning philosophical ideas and insights. Whether I start writing them down, painting, singing, present, or whatever way, does not matter. So long I use the medium which feels right.

      Writing. Writing is the medium which I not only admire but I visualize the ideas and insights written down.

      For the first time, posting on a site feels like ideas and insights are popping their heads out. Whether you see them and acknowledge them, does not matter to me. How about that!

      In case you do read this, I’m born foreign to English, and pointing out wrongly used words or sentences would make a difference in my evolution.

      Thanks to Stephen for “The Work of Art” and for all those who posted on this site.

  26. April 23, 2013 at 3:51 am

    “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” – Kingsley Amis

  27. May 2, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Such a simple concept. Amazing how dead on accurate it is. Amazing how often the idea is forgotten. Short post, very effective take away. Thanks.

  28. May 3, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Brilliant. Words I take to heart, try to live to, fall down, get back up & onwards. So thanks for the PUSH today ;-)

  29. May 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Love this post Steven! When I should be writing but struggle for motivation, I make myself get out pen and paper; turn the computer off and write until something magical (or at least good) appears on the page.

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