By Steven Pressfield
Published: November 18, 2015
My friend Dave wrote to me a week ago with a problem.
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.