Steven Pressfield Writing Quotes

Steven Pressfield wrote for 27 years before he could get his first book published. This is probably why he has written extensively on the challenges of writing and how to become a better writer. If you are an aspiring writer, his books The War of Art and Do the Work can help you get started.

In this article, we explore his insights and advice on writing through quotes from several of his books and interviews. Some of the topics covered include:

  • How to deal with procrastination in writing
  • How to deal with fear
  • Dealing with the challenges of a writer’s life
  • What it takes to be a successful writer

If you want to learn more about Steven Pressfield, check out his quick biography.

Quotes on Finding a Reason to Start Writing

1. We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause. – The War of Art (2012)

2. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got. – The War of Art (2012)

3. Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it? –The War of Art (2012)

4. What am I going to write about? What is my gift?” If I’m here to bring kind of a gift to the people as the hero’s journey template says, my question to myself is, “What is that gift?” – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

5. Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it. –The War of Art (2012)

6. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. – The War of Art (2012)

7. I had a boss named Ed Hannibal, who quit, wrote a novel, and it was a huge success overnight. And I thought, “Well shit, why don’t I do that too?” – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

Quotes on Dealing with Procrastination and Resistance When Writing

8. This second, we can sit down and do our work. – The War of Art (2012)

9. Start before you’re ready. – Do the Work (2015)

10. The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. – The War of Art (2012)

11. Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act. – Do the Work (2015)

12. The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying. – The War of Art (2012)

Quotes on Dealing With Fear and Doubt When Writing

13. Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. – The War of Art (2012)

14. Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it. – The War of Art (2012)

15. The opposite of fear is love – love of the challenge, love of the work, the pure joyous passion to take a shot at our dream and see if we can pull it off. – Do the Work (2015)

16. You may think that you’ve lost your passion, or that you can’t identify it, or that you have so much of it, it threatens to overwhelm you. None of these is true. Fear saps passion. When we conquer our fears, we discover a boundless, bottomless, inexhaustible well of passion. – Do the Work (2015)

17. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. – The War of Art (2012)

18. You are a writer when you tell yourself you are. No one else’s opinion matters. – Jeff Goins Interview

Quotes on Finding Inspiration to Write

19. This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us…When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete. –The War of Art (2012)

20. A work-in-progress generates its own energy field. You, the artist or entrepreneur, are pouring love into the work; you are suffusing it with passion and intention and hope. – Do the Work (2015)

21. I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp. – Steven Pressfield quoting Somerset Maughham in The War of Art (2012)

Quotes on What It Takes To Be a Successful Writer

22. Malcolm Gladwell’s maxim that it takes 10,000 hours of purposeful practice to master any art or craft is understated, in my opinion. – Jeff Goins Interview

23. Read. Write. Bust your ass. Learn and find your voice. As hard as you think it is, it’s a hundred times harder. – Jeff Goins Interview

24. We all learn initially by copying. It’s very helpful (or at least it was for me) to copy a writer who has a very strong and distinctive voice. – Writing Routines Interview

25. That was a wonderful skill to learn, to find that you can say in 25 words what you had said in 250 words before. There were a lot of lessons that came out of that experience of writing ads. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

26. We can’t control the level of talent we’ve been given. We have no control over the nature of our gift. What we can control is our self-motivation, our self-discipline, our self-validation, and our self-reinforcement. –

27. I’ve seen a million writers with talent. It means nothing. You need guts; you need stick-to-it-iveness. It’s work, you gotta work, do the freakin’ work. – The Knowledge, 2016

28. The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are. The last thing we want is to remain as we are. – Do the Work (2015)

Quotes on Steven Pressfield’s Writing Routine

29. I work every day without fail, even if it’s only an hour or two. – Jeff Goins Interview

30. I’m at the gym at 5:30 every morning but it takes me till around 11:30 to actually sit down and start work. I used to be able to put in four hours but these days two and a half is my outer limit. – Writing Routines Interview

31. My aim is to write every day but realistically it’s probably five or six days a week. My most productive days are always the weekend. – Writing Routines Interview

Quotes on Dealing with the Challenges of Writing

32. I wound up writing three novels that never got published. And when I finished the third one, that was sort of another kind of an “All is lost” moment, a suicide moment for me because I couldn’t get any- even my friends wouldn’t read it. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

33. Appreciate these days. These days when you’re broke and struggling, they’re the best days of your life. – The Knowledge, 2016

34. You’ll look back on this time and think this is when I was really an artist, when everything was pure and I had nothing but the dream and the work. – The Knowledge, 2016

35. I wrote for 17 years before I earned my first penny (a $3500 option on a screenplay that was never produced). –

36. The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. –The War of Art (2012)

37. From the time that I originally tried to start writing…and actually had a book published was about 28 years, 30 years, something like that. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

38. I joke that I was an overnight success after 30 years. And I think sometimes your bad luck builds up to such an extent that it turns into good luck. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

39. I will say that as an encouragement to anybody that’s listening…once I was able to finish that thing, that novel, I’ve never had any trouble finishing anything ever again. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

40. It was just sheer willpower driven on by shame that I just couldn’t. I think shame is a great thing, but I just couldn’t stand myself if I failed yet again. So, I just had to keep going. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

Quotes on Writing a Book That Will Sell

41. Writing and reading is a transaction that the reader or the viewer is giving you a very valuable commodity, which is their time and their attention, and you’ve got to give them something. You can’t just put some crap out there and expect that they’re obligated to read it or watch it, because they won’t watch it. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

42. The lesson for that as a writer, knowing that you’re facing that with so much resistance from the reader, is that whatever you’re going to put on that page or on the TV screen, it’s got to be so good and so compelling and so interesting that people will have no choice but to watch it. – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

43. Try to say, “What would be interesting to them? What would catch their interest? Or what would hold their interest?” – Tim Ferris Show Interview, 2021

Further Reading

If you loved the quotes by Steven Pressfield, check out the huge collection of writing quotes below. The collection features the best quotes by some of the most famous writers such as Jeff Goins, Malcolm Gladwell, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King among many more.

The quotes are full of valuable advice for any aspiring writer.

If you are struggling to create a business around your writing and need some encouragement, read the quotes below.