Friday, September 18, 2009

Steven Pressfield

Greetings! I am excited to share with you a miniature interview I got to have with Steven Pressfield, the author of War of Art. Mr. Pressfield also has a blog, and somehow his P.R. representative found me through the wondrous world of the internet. Since I recently finished reading the War of Art, the timing could not have been better.

Karine: Steven, I just finished reading The War of Art, and really loved it.
Even though I consider myself a "professional artist", I have to agree
that resistance is something I fight each and every day before I go into my studio to paint. I am about to begin a whole new body of work, one that is different from the paintings I have been doing for a long time. It is a body of work that I have had resistance to for YEARS! (Which is why I know I need to get started on it, right away.) You offer so much good advice in your book, but I am willing to ask for one more tidbit. How did you convince yourself to finally write The War of Art, when you knew it was outside the scope of your usual writing? (non fiction rather than fiction)

Steven: "The War of Art" was actually pretty easy for me to write because I'd had it in my head for years, from many nights sitting up with friends telling them verbally exactly what's in the book--friend meaning aspiring writers etc. who were stuck and asked me to kick them in the ass a little. So when I got a couple of months between submitting the manuscript of another book and getting feedback so that I could go to the next draft, I just banged it out. So I'd never have to do one of those verbal midnights again!

Karine: My most recent struggle with resistance has come with the fact that I now have so many paintings! I need to market and sell this art! (Not a bad problem to have, but this resistance thing doesn't ever give up, does it?) I am sure writers experience this problem once they have completed a manuscript and now must publish it or have it published. What words of
wisdom can you give for those of us who are facing possible rejection and (ulp!) failure? How does one get back into the saddle?

Steven: That's a great question, Karine. I'm not even sure I'm the best person to answer it. The smartest thing I can say is: "Get help." Find other professionals--agent, publicity person, etc.--whose talents lie in the arena of marketing. Most artists, I've found, are woefully incapable of pimping themselves. I know I am. We need help. That's why God invented the ten percent commission and the monthly retainer.

Meanwhile I've got a really got mini-book .pdf on this exact subject, written by Jack White, the painter. I'll scour my hard drive and see if I can find it and include it in this e-mail. It's called "Mystery of Making It." If I can't find it, see if you can track it down by googling him. You might have to pay twenty bucks but it's worth it. Jack White is a former state artist of the state of Texas. If you can't find this under his name, google Mikki Senkarik (that's his wife, also a painter.) Just e-mail Jack and ask.

Karine: Thank you! I have been now reading Mystery of Making It, and there is a lot of valuable information in it! Some of the information I have heard before, but it never hurts me to hear it again. For any of you out there who are needing more marketing tips, I highly recommend this book!

Last question, Steven: I found that in order to get myself into the studio, each and every day, I have the best success when I follow an established routine or pattern. It becomes almost a ritual, and it really seems to help. Do you have similar habits or routines?

Steven: I do too. See the first chapter of "War of Art." My friend Randall Wallace, who wrote "Braveheart," has a whole series of early morning rituals. His girlfriend calls them "little successes." That's very good. Even a simple "little success" like making coffee or going to the gym really helps, I find. You are not alone, Karine. Rituals get the momentum going.
Have you ever read "Journal of a Novel" by John Steinbeck? You can find it for a buck, I'm sure, on While he was writing one novel (I forget which), he kept a journal ... writing little notes to himself each morning as a warm-up before he started his day's work. Well worth reading.

Hope that helps!

All my best,
Steve P.

Karine: Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! It was fun to have you here, as a guest on Karine's blog. For those of you reading this, I did ask some of those questions with the intent that others could learn a little more about how to get going as a creative professional. The person I have to help me with my marketing efforts is a wonderful person by the name of Alyson Stanfield, over at Art Biz Coach. I highly recommend her book, I'd Rather Be in the Studio, for those artists who are reading to take their art to the next level.

You may also want to check out Pressfield's "Writing Wednesdays" on his blog. Here is a link to the one from this Wednesday.

This post is getting rather long, but I did want to share with you a photo from last night. This is my first real-live in person tarantula sighting!!! Mr. Pono the dog and I were outside after dark, waiting for M. to come home, when I happened to notice this fuzzy giant of a spider just outside the gate. You KNOW I had to get a photo of it!


pRiyA said...

Wonderful and inspiring post Karine. It is reassuring to read this post and know that most artists go through similar issues with regard to their work.

I look forward to seeing the new stuff you are getting ready to paint and I love that picture of the spider.

pRiyA said...

Hey, and by the way, your new posts are not appearing on my blog roll!
Anyway, I just came here again to say that i went through the Writing Wednesday link. It is a wonderful reminder.

ArtPropelled said...

Karine, that was a treat thank you. I read the book a while back and have been thinking about reading it again.

Carla Sonheim said...

I also LOVED his book. Thank you for the interview... how great!!!

Red Fish Circle said...

Great interview, wow.... amazing they found you - how cool. His PR person knows what he/she is doing, I just ordered the book. Can't wait to read it.