In addition to writing The Legend of Bagger Vance, Pressfield wrote, The Gates of Fire, a historical novel about the battle of the 300 Spartans at the Gates of Thermopylae. I saw the movie, 300, thinking it was based on Pressfield’s book. Boy was I disappointed (it wasn’t). While the book is great, the movie made me want to scrub with a ScotchBrite pad. Books with titles like this one (vague and slightly ironic) usually turn me off, but then I heard Pressfield wrote it, so I gave it a shot. I am glad I did. You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to benefit from this book. Wherever he says “writer” or “artist” if you substitute your work, you’ll do just fine. If you do any work that requires motivation (and whose doesn’t?), Pressfield helps you see your enemy (Resistance) and how to defeat it. Our biggest impediment to greatness is Resistance. “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.” Is his own Marine Corps, R-rated sort of way, he lets us in on the secret to success: Motivation doesn’t lead to hard work. Hard work leads to motivation. One encouragement of reading the book is a look at the many failures of a successful writer. You will be stunned at the number of manuscripts he wrote and tossed in the trash (and a particularly bad movie he co-wrote) to which he says, “. . . it’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”
Quote to live by: “The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.”
Quibble: For those of delicate constitutions, he cusses like a Marine (and even then he will make you laugh).