Writing Wednesdays #15: Elements of Success

This post, from Steven Pressfield, originally appeared on his War & Reality in Afghanistan | "It’s the Tribes, Stupid!" site on 9/11/09.

I was making a long drive this week, across the desert from L.A. to Phoenix, and I got to thinking about the elements that comprise success-particularly for people like us, e.g. writers, artists and entrepreneurs, who work from the heart and on their own, without any imposed external structure. What are the skill-sets we need? Over a lifetime, what challenges do we need to master?

In today’s post, I’m attaching a podcast of an interview I did with Jen Grisanti, who helms a Los Angeles-based consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry, shape their material, hone their pitches, and focus their careers. Her one-on-one consults with authors offer the insight of a personal studio executive. Considering Jen’s last job was as VP of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount, writers do, indeed, benefit from having their own “executive” – one who has worked with over 190 writers working in television, features and novels, and who is also the Writing Instructor for NBC’s, Writers on the Verge, and a blogger for The Huffington Post.

In addition to consulting, Jen holds monthly networking events and does a twice-monthly podcast, featuring interviews with movie-industry professionals and writers and artists of all kinds. This podcast would fall under #2 of my desert-drive list of the elements of success: Technique. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

  Elements of Success – An Interview with Jen Grisanti

[ Click on above link to open the audio file in your computer’s default audio player, or right-click this Download link and "save as" to download.]


1) Talent.

There’s a reason why you and I are not Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. On the other hand, it’s no coincidence that so often the greatest athletes, artists and entrepreneurs also embody the most ferocious work ethic. Talent may set the final limit to how good we can be, but it also can be stretched way beyond what most of us believe.

2) Technique.

This is an easy one because it can be taught. We can learn it-in school, from books and mentors, in seminars and workshops and coaching sessions. We can teach ourselves in the university of hard knocks. Jen Grisanti’s interview is in this category. So are the Iowa Writers Workshop, Robert McKee’s Story Structure classes (and his book, Story) and Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages.

Read the rest of the post, which includes elements #3-6, on War & Reality in Afghanistan | "It’s the Tribes, Stupid!".


But let’s go back to Number One in the elements of success. What skills do you and I need as solo gunslingers in order to call ourselves “successful” over a full career?

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