I'm super excited to bring you this interview with Steven Pressfield, who has been one of my ‘virtual' mentors for many years through his books and his blog. I'm definitely a fan girl! We talk about Israel and his latest book on the Six Day War, The Lion's Gate – and we also go into the Resistance and some of his tips for writers around habits and mindset.
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Steven Pressfield is the author of screenplays including The Legend of Bagger Vance, novels around the classical wars of ancient Greece and modern warfare like Gates of Fire, and non-fiction works including The War of Art and Turning Pro, which I know are on the desks of many writers listening. His latest book is ‘The Lion's Gate,' a hybrid history of the Six Day War.
I've split the interview into two on video: you can watch our discussion about The Lions' Gate here, and another on tips for writers here. You can also listen to the audio above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. In the interview, we discuss:
- A brief overview of the Six Day War and the events that feature in ‘The Lion's Gate' as well as why Steven wanted to tell this story, after many years of writing books around classical wars
- The concept of ‘en brera.‘ Why the Israelis had ‘no alternative' at that time and perhaps, still don't?
- Our mutual love for the country of Israel, and the places that particularly resonated with Steven
- Why Steven chose to tell the history in the first person POV, and his interview research technique, plus using the techniques of fiction in writing narrative non-fiction
- “The Lion's Gate' as the book Steven has been avoiding writing, and how resistance manifested during its creation
- I have a quote by Steven from The War of Art on the pinboard by my desk. “On the field of the self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon. The battle must be fought anew every day.” How we can fight resistance as authors.
- How spirituality plays a part in Steven's writing life and books, including his prayer to the Muse
- From Turning Pro, “The difference between an amateur and a pro is in their habits.” The habits of a pro writer and the discipline to keep to the path.
- Defining success as a writer– after multi-million books sold, being on Oprah, movie hits and more. ‘You have the right to your labor, not the fruits of your labor.' It's not about the rewards of writing, it's about the writing itself. How it took 10 years for ‘The War of Art' to find its audience.
- On comparisonitis. Getting a handle on jealousy.
- Balancing the demands of ego against fear and self-doubt – and how to stop self-censorship.
- Mental toughness and being a warrior as a writer. This is not easy work. It's a battle, and mostly, you're on your own.
- Thoughts on the changing world of publishing
- You can find lots more about Steven's writing process in his FAQ here