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Steven Pressfield on Going from Truck Driver to Bestselling Novelist, Overcoming Self-Sabotage, Building Momentum, Dancing with the Muse, Turning Pro, and Letting Your Underground River Flow (#642)

“Sometimes people will ask me, ‘What do you do between books?’ And my answer to that is ‘There should never be ‘between books.””

— Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield (@SPressfield) was 52 years old before his first novel was published. Since then, he has written the million-sellers Gates of Fire and The War of Art, as well as The Legend of Bagger VanceA Man at Arms, and many others. His newest book, the memoir GOVT CHEESE, is about those years before that first publication. It is coming out on December 30th, and you can pre-order signed copies here.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#642: Steven Pressfield on Going from Truck Driver to Bestselling Novelist, Overcoming Self-Sabotage, Building Momentum, Dancing with the Muse, Turning Pro, and Letting Your Underground River Flow

This episode is brought to you by MasterClass! With MasterClass, you can learn from the world’s best minds—anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace. With more than 180 classes from a range of world-class instructors, that thing you’ve always wanted to do is closer than you think.

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This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could use only one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually AG1 by Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

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Would you like to hear the last time Steven was on the show? Have a listen to our conversation in which we discussed cat role models, halfway house theories, working world self-sabotage, overcoming 30 years of abject failure to become a successfully prolific writer, the hero’s journey versus the artist’s journey, shadow careers, tailoring a routine to fit one’s own creative process, and much more.

#501: Steven Pressfield — How to Overcome Self-Sabotage and Resistance, Routines for Little Successes, and The Hero’s Journey vs. The Artist’s Journey

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Connect with Steven Pressfield:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • [05:51] Ambition in a halfway house.
  • [09:30] Evanescent dreams.
  • [10:37] Helpful self-delusions.
  • [13:28] What’s in a name?
  • [19:18] Trimming fiction’s fat beyond the first draft.
  • [22:06] The Paul Rink method of maintaining Blitzkrieg momentum.
  • [25:48] Other pearls of Paul Rink perspicacity.
  • [28:08] A transition from aspiring fiction writer to prolific author.
  • [32:05] A hint from Hemingway.
  • [33:15] Positive self-delusion.
  • [35:26] Writing fiction isn’t self-indulgence. It’s an obligation.
  • [40:44] How does writing fiction fit into my life? Is it a top priority?
  • [51:04] Why Steven wrote Govt Cheese.
  • [53:34] A pivotal slap in the face.
  • [55:48] Seeking home from the wilderness.
  • [58:46] Banishing depression by finding profundity in the absurd.
  • [1:04:12] The novelty of absurdity isn’t necessarily negative.
  • [1:05:29] Icing on the cake.
  • [1:06:49] Two years I spent in the wilderness without a compass.
  • [1:09:33] Richard Rohr’s vessel.
  • [1:12:49] Handling the voltage.
  • [1:14:31] What did it feel like for Steven to write this memoir?
  • [1:16:25] The origin of the title Govt Cheese.
  • [1:18:55] What you, dear listener, should know about this book.
  • [1:20:49] Parting thoughts.


“Sometimes people will ask me, ‘What do you do between books?’ And my answer to that is ‘There should never be ‘between books.””

— Steven Pressfield

“When we have an idea, we are pregnant with that idea. And that idea has a life of its own. It wants to be born. And if we don’t let it be born, we’ll pay the price one way or another.”

— Steven Pressfield

“Any time something is brand new, it seems absurd.”

— Steven Pressfield

“Writing is about delivering a load and its sustenance. You hope it’s sustenance, right? It’s a load of surplus food, of gvt cheese, that’s going to go on people’s tables.”

— Steven Pressfield


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.



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