By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 25, 2015
With notable exceptions, just about any story that hopes to produce a powerful impact must build to a climax that strains everyday credulity. An astronaut makes it back safely from Mars, a seventy-year-old male intern saves a hip young female CEO, an outcast high school girl named Carrie immolates her tormenters with her telekinetic powers.
Sean Young as a replicant in “Blade Runner.” Do we buy in or not?
By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 18, 2015
My friend Dave wrote to me a week ago with a problem.
James Patterson, seen here on his MasterClass.com course, maintains a big file of NEW IDEAS
How do we as artists and entrepreneurs transition to the next project?
Dave had just turned in a manuscript. He was trying to get the next idea going. The problem was he didn’t know what that idea was going to be.
For me, the transition is as pernicious a Resistance war as the previous project’s attack towards the finish line. Yes, I know we’re supposed to show up, buckle in, lace up the work boots, and “start the next one tomorrow.” [But] sometimes [we] write and write and it still isn’t feeling right. At the same time, we watch our cash flow dwindle and slowly lose our mojo.
This is what I am fighting right now.
Here’s what I wrote back:
Oddly enough, I was just watching (yesterday) the MasterClass course on writing taught by James Patterson — https://www.masterclass.com — and he was saying how he keeps a GIANT file of ideas and is constantly adding to it. I do that too.
The ideal situation is to have Idea #2 long before you finish Idea #1. My goal is to have a month or two’s work already done on #2 by the time I wrap #1. Then there is no transition. No agony.
This counsel, of course, was a little late to help Dave. So I added this:
I’m a big believer, when you’re stuck, in stealing. I don’t mean outright ripping off or plagiarism, but rather a benign and respectful mass exposure to everything that’s out here, hoping the somebody else’s stuff will trigger an idea that I can run with.
Read read read. Go to movies, concerts, gallery openings. Read new stuff. Read stuff from the ancients. Read magazines, blogs, listen to podcasts. Keeping writing. Keep working on the NEW IDEAS file, but don’t overdo it. Put your brain on “input” instead of “output” until something clicks.
By Steven Pressfield | Published: November 11, 2015
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “How do I decide on my next project? I have so many ideas, I don’t know which one to choose.”
Will he be the Man?
My usual answer is, “Pick the one that scares you the most.”
The reason this works is you’re using your own Resistance to guide you. Since Resistance will always be strongest in the case of the project that’s most important to the evolution of your soul, you will feel the most fear when you contemplate working on that project.
Voila! That’s the one you should choose, just like an actor or actress always picks the role that challenges her the most, the one that will make her stretch the furthest.
But sometimes (I know, I know), we’ve got ten potential projects rattling around inside our skulls and we can’t tell which one we’re most scared of (or which one we like the most.)
What do we do then?
My method is to pick the two or three most promising and start working on all of them.
It’s kinda like the Republican primary race.
Will Trump come out on top? Ben Carson? Marco Rubio? Will Jeb Bush rediscover his mojo at the eleventh hour?
We can’t tell yet.
It’s too early.
But bank on this: with the passage of time, a clear winner will emerge.
Same thing with our three (or more) competing projects.
Yeah, right now we can’t tell if it’s A, B, or C. But a month from now, C’s gonna start feeling a little shopworn.
We’ll narrow the race to A and B.
Eventually the fog will disperse and we’ll pick one (let’s say A).
Six months from then we’ll look back and say, “I can’t believe I ever took B and C seriously. It was so obvious that A was the best!”
So if you’re tearing your hair out trying to choose between competing projects … relax. Take the pressure off yourself. Keep working on all of them, just like the GOP candidates are out there jetting back and forth between Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Time will tell.
The weaker will drop out.
The cream will rise to the top.
(Me, I’m voting for Hillary.)