October 20, 2009

3 Questions for Steven Pressfield (part 3 of 3)

Welcome to the final instalment of my Q&A with Steven Pressfield. He discusses the process of revision and how sitting down to do the work is really just a matter of will power, commitment and the strength to conquer RESISTANCE ...

MS: I always have trouble finding the motivation to revise my work (although I know this is just as important as the initial creative output). Do you have any tools or tips for approaching the revision process?

SP: Just will power, Melissa. Someone once said (and I agree): "There's no such thing as writing, only re-writing." To me, the revision process is not only very important, but fun. I'll do twelve or thirteen drafts on a book--and each one changes the original significantly. When I read someone's work that hasn't been strenuously edited and revised, I can see it. It's not good.

I read an article once, where the reporter was watching Barbra Streisand record a song. She did it over and over. The reporter was rolling his eyes. But he said in the end, "I couldn't tell the difference between Take Six and Take Seven, but I could tell the difference between Take One and Take Thirteen."

If you're having trouble finding the motivation to revise your work, my advice would be to regard that trouble as Resistance. In other words, it's internal self-sabotage. Thus you have to regard those thoughts as "not your own" and dismiss them. No matter how subtle or convincing those thoughts may be, recognize them at once as Resistance and don't give them credence for a second. Put on your professional writer hat and make yourself sit down and revise. The pool is icy when you first plunge in, but after a minute or two you'll be swimming with ease.

Pressfield explores these ideas further in his blog post: Writing Wednesdays #12: Self-Talk and Self-Sabotage. He offers an in-depth analysis of how Resistance manifests itself through the voices in our heads. Stop listening and change the channel! Fill up the static with your creative energy, in whatever way it manifests itself.

Thank you for these invaluable insights, Steven!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, fight the self-sabotage. I always think of that image in A Beautiful Mind when the doctor's "friends" are present, but controlled. We can't kill them, we just have to learn how to live with them peacefully and get on with it.

    Thanks for posting this, Melissa.