NOTES: "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t" by Steven Pressfield

I was at work and the conversation of author Steven Pressfield came up. He wrote the book The War of Art which is a classic among creatives. It’s about how we let Resistance take over the work we want to put out in the world. The talk was so inspiring, so I dug (okay, scrolled) through my Kindle library to see if I already owned this one. I didn’t. Not for my Kindle, at least. But I found I already had one of his others and didn’t realize.

I purchased Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t in 2017. I read, maybe, 12 of the short chapters before hanging it up and moving on.

When I left work that day, I hopped on the Q train to Brooklyn, and opened it up. I like to peruse through the table of contents, and I focused on #6: “I’ll Be Over at Nine-Thirty.” Pressfield talks about how he’d make plans with his writing partner, Stan, for 9:30am, and he’d show up hella late. Pressfield would get pissed because he felt like he wasted his day and got nothing done. He soon caught on that he had to write before Stan arrived so they’d have something to go over once he got there. Pressfield was the writer; Stan was more of a producer.

That chapter really got me because since I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve worked in different collaborations over the years. And I’ve got to say that I might be burnt out. And part of me thinks it’s because there is little difference between roles in collaboration. It can be a little mundane when everyone brings the same, exact thing to the table.

I trucked on with the book. Here are some things I’ve highlighted so far:

  • from #19: “How to Get a Bad Idea”:

    “When you try too hard, you have bad ideas.

    When you work mechanically, you have bad ideas.

    When you follow formula, you have bad ideas.

    When you’re desperate or panicky, you have bad ideas.”

  • from #34: “Getting Over the Hump”:

    “A real writer (artist or entrepreneur) has something to give. She has lived enough and suffered enough and thought deeply enough about her experience to be able to process it into something that is of value to others, even if only as entertainment.

    A fake writer (artist or entrepreneur) is just trying to draw attention to himself.”

What I enjoy about this book is that it breaks a lot of it down into different genres — “advertising,” “fiction,” “Hollywood,” nonfiction,” and self-help.” I’m not saying I’m trying to write any of this right now. I’m actually not. I have no interest, which is a lot different from how I felt four years ago. I was the fake writer trying to get noticed. Now, it’s like 🤷‍♀️(shrug). I’m just working on getting these blog posts consistent to my needs.

If I ever do want to write a novel or screenplay or whatever, this book give practical advice on development. Just from what he says, I can’t wait to start looking at movies differently. Here’s what he said about Silver Linings Playbook with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence that made me say, “Ahhhhh!” from the chapter “How Does the Story Start?

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is being released from a mental hospital in Baltimore. We see, from the first few minutes of the film, that he’s got some serious psychiatric issues.

These issues coalesce around Bradley’s obsession with getting back together with his wife, Nikki, who has him under a restraining order and is scared to death of his nuttiness.

But Bradley has a plan. He’s going to prove to Nikki he has gotten his act together. He’s sane now; he’s a new man… He has dedicated himself to maintaining a “positive attitude.” With that, he is certain he can find a “silver lining” and put his broken marriage back together.

These are the opening nine minutes of David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.

All of it is great. Every piece of info is necessary for the story.

But so far it’s only the Setup.

The story hasn’t started yet.

The story starts about ten minutes into the movie, when Bradley’s buddie Ronnie (John Ortiz) and Ronnie’s wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles) invite Bradley to their house for dinner and there introduce him to Veronica’s sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who also, by the way, has significant mental issues.

Bradley knows Jennifer slightly from the neighborhood. But she was married then, to a police officer named Tommy. Tommy has since died. Jennifer is now a widow, i.e. available…

Minute Ten:

Jennifer walks into the room and faces Bradley.

Bradley looks at Jennifer.

Jennifer sees the way Bradley is looking at her.

Jennifer looks back at Bradley the same way.

In the audience, we know in this instant that Bradley’s plan of reuniting with his wife Nikki has just flown out the window.

That’s the Inciting Incident.

The story has now started.

Powerful shit, right?? It made me want to go back and watch the film. I’ve seen it a couple times, and I didn’t care for it all that much. But now, much like a woman who is working on codependency issues, I’m willing to give it a third chance. 😜

I’m really excited to get to the chapters on self-help because I read so much of that nowadays.

[UPDATE: I started this post on January 31. Look at the date now. The Resistance is SO real!! ]

Actually, I’m just going to skip to that part right now.

I skipped ahead because why not get to where I want to go right now, rather than trudging through the stuff I don’t really care about? This is why it takes me so long to read certain things because I hit a spot that’s not meant for me and then I put it all aside. I always tell myself I will just skip ahead to what’s meant for me, and then I end up feeling guilty. No more – at least not right now.

And what do you know, from chapter 118, “Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”:

What Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit means is that none of us wants to hear your self-centered, ego-driven, unrefined demands for attention. Why should we? It’s boring. There’s nothing in it for us.

And just like that, I finished the book.

And just like that that, I finished this post. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t was definitely an inspiring read. I’m glad I got through most of it back in January when I did. I needed a push to getting through some things creatively. There was a lot of life going on in between then and now that I needed to tend to – mainly work, decorating and updating my living space, letting go of other projects, learning more about self-care, and then a bout with hives (that I’m still dealing with). It’s just been a time.

I added “Can you commit to writing one post a week and putting it in your calendar?” to my bullet journal. I started to write it’s a scary thought, but really, why is it scary? It’s just a post. It’s just for me. Nobody’s reading my shit, yet…

I’ll take it week by week. 😁

✌️