Thursday, February 28

Steven Pressfield Gives Writers A Pep Talk In A "Get Off Your Duff And Start Writing!" Kind Of Way

Steven Pressfield Gives A Pep Talk In A "Get Off Your Duff And Start Writing!" Kind Of Way

It seems this is the time for pep talks. I shared Kid President's yesterday, so I wasn't sure if I should share another right after it, but the truth is I have to, it's just too good.

Besides, it's not like we can have too many pep talks, right?

How The Eagles Learnt To Write A Song

With seven number-one singles, six Grammys five American Music Awards and six number one albums to their name, it's safe to say the Eagles knew how to write a song, but this wasn't always the case. (Eagles (band), Wikipedia)

Steven Pressfield writes:
Glenn Frey was telling the story. He was talking about the early 70s in L.A., before the Eagles were even a band, or maybe just after they had gotten started. He and Don Henley were playing gigs (they had backed up Linda Ronstadt for a while) but they were not writing their own material. They were covering other musicians’ songs. They knew they had to start writing their own—and they wanted to desperately—but they couldn’t figure out how.
.  .  .  .
It turned out that they were living in a little cheap apartment in Echo Park directly above an even littler, cheaper apartment that was being rented by Jackson Browne. Jackson Browne was at the very start of his career too. He was starving just like Glenn and Don.

Glenn Frey, telling the story, says something like this:
“Every morning we’d wake up and we’d hear Jackson’s piano coming through the floor from the apartment below. He would play one verse, then play it again, and again and again. Twenty times in a row, till he had it exactly the way he wanted.

“Then he’d move to the next verse. Again, twenty times. It went on for hours. I don’t know how many days we listened to this same process before it suddenly hit us: This is how you write a song. This is how it’s done.

“That changed everything for us.”
Steven Pressfield writes:
I love that story. I love the demystification of the process. Yeah, the Muse is present. Yes, inspiration is key. But the ethic is workaday. It’s sit down, shut up, do what you have to.
.  .  .  .
I can relate completely to what Glenn Frey said ... I can hear the notes from that piano coming up through the floorboards. “Jeez Louise, what is that guy doing down there? Stop, man! Take a break!”

Then, slowly maybe, or maybe in a flash, the light dawns. “This is how you do it. This is how you write a song.”
All quotations are from Steven Pressfield's article: Jackson Browne’s Piano coming through the Floor.

Here's the link to Steven Pressfield's blog, it's one of my favorites because I love reading an industry professional write about his experiences.
What do you do to get yourself to sit down, unplug from your social networks, hide the TV remote, and write?

Other articles you might like:

- A Pep Talk
- How To Edit: Kill Your Darlings
- Chuck Wendig Says That Editing Is Writing

Photo credit: "The Entrance" by nattu under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. Since music is the metaphor, try out Virtual Piano to make music with your fingers.

    As for buckling down and starting to write, well, you have to prepare. First and foremost, eating something before hand. Working on an empty stomach is never good. If you need to get some groceries that day, be sure to do the shopping before sitting down to write.
    Now that you're with the paper or the screen before you, start writing. If you enjoy hearing some music in a low tone, make sure it's instrumental, make sure it's vibrant and not sleep inducing. I recommend Hans Zimmer's songs from Pirates of the Caribbean.
    Now, if you are writing for editing and revising, I recommend this site:
    A friend recommended it to me, several days ago, and it's very good. You still have to read (preferably out loud) in order to correct and improve your writing. But the great thing is that it's online and that it's free.
    Here's a little song for Virtual Piano: dy gi ho jp, dy gi ho gi, d9 gq hw je, d9 gq hw gq - d9 gq hw je zy xu ci vo. And this one: 6e 6e 6e 6e 4q 4q 30 30 6e 6e 6e 6e 4q 4q 30 30,
    6t r 6e 0 6t r 6e 0 4t r 4e 0 3y t 3r t e.


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.