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.

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#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

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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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4 Replies to “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)”

  1. Dear Tim, I’ve felt compelled to write to you for a while now, but this episode (Steven Pressfield #2) kicked that compulsion to the front of the line, so here goes.

    First, congrats on your absurd and fun venture in fiction. I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m delighted that you’re finding such satisfaction in contributing a new kind of art to the world.

    Second, I noticed Richard Rohr come up again here. Normally, I’d mind my own business, but I sense in you, among other things, a spiritual (broadly defined) longing that makes me feel okay about contributing just a tiny comment along these lines. Rohr is a Franciscan priest (not monk), a prolific author on a variety of subjects, and spiritual activist. I personally feel so grateful to have discovered him because he’s one of the people I credit with helping me through the process of wrestling with my own complex religiosity as both Catholic Christian and Tibetan Buddhist. I have some writing projects to that effect going, but for now they remain on the sidelines of my more academic work and the mundane demands of professional, family, and community life. Ah, time! The greatest limiting factor. Depending on your current spiritual proclivities, you may or may not be interested in a podcast series undertaken with Rohr a few years ago, “Another Name for Every Thing.” It is rich indeed, if you go for that sort of thing.

    Finally, my third point is to say “thank you.” This interview with Pressfield is but one example of the countless ways you, and many of your guests, consistently offer priceless nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that give me (for one) the courage to persist in the unconventional but no-longer-deniable-pursuits calling me onward.

    I suspect we’ll probably never interact in real time (though that would be fun). So I’ll settle for offering my gratitude and admiration and wishing you the very best of luck in ALL of the ventures life has yet in store for you.

  2. Hi Tim, you mentioned in the episode that in retrospect, taking it a bit easier for two years was not the best move. What is the main reason for that, did you not follow creative ideas as much as you should have, or do you feel it made you more complacent / too comfortable? It would be interesting to hear what you found out about yourself in that time and if it outweighs the feeling of beings able to present more worldly output.

    Thank you for your hard work and time,
    truly love your work.

  3. Another fantastic episode! I was very interested in the discussion regarding how the creative process has been adding energy to your bucket. For me the best thing I have found that adds energy is exercise, however I feel there must be something else that I just haven’t yet discovered. I also heard Steven mention what sounded like an NFT house project you are working on and would love to find out more about it! I’ve looked briefly and all I find is C0ckPunch articles, lol. Where can I find out more about that project? Additionally I would be enthralled to help you in any way that I could on that project, through either my real estate experience or network. I’m actually wrapping up a few projects in the next couple months and would very seriously consider coming to the site of your projects and managing the projects/properties.