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The Authentic Swing

June 12, 2023

If you’re a storyteller of any kind, or an aspiring writer, The Authentic Swing is a superbly inspiring book for you to read.

It’s not a long read. It’s not about golf. And it’s not yet another how-to book.

In essence, it is the origins story of a novel, and—on a much deeper level—it is a book about finding one’s authentic voice and writing style.

Steven Pressfield based this book on his notes from the writing of The Legend of Bagger Vance, his first and breakthrough novel, set in the game of golf. It sold over 250,000 copies and was eventually made into a movie directed by Robert Redford, and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron.

Of all Pressfield’s nonfiction books for creators and artists, this is perhaps the best, aside from the far more famous War of Art.

It reads like a great story and feels like one too.

A masterpiece.

But it can also be practical. For example, here’s a great passage from a chapter on Steve’s writing habits that can easily relate to anyone struggling with a major writing project:

“Each day when I finish work, I write down the project I’ve worked on and how many hours I’ve worked on it. I have a wall calendar too, the Sierra Club/Ansel Adams type, with a two-inch square for each day. In the bottom left corner of each square, I write what fitness stuff I did that day—gym, run, whatever. In the upper right corner I put a one-letter abbreviation for what project I worked on—and a check mark beside it.

When I can scan a calendar month and tally up twenty or twenty-five check marks and the same number of fitness notations, I know I’ve got the momentum. A writer doesn’t have a boss. No one hands me a paycheck or pats me on the back or buys me a drink and tells me: Good job, Steve. I have to do that for myself. I have to haul myself out of bed and march myself into the office. I have to psych myself up to plunge in and kick myself in the ass when I start grumbling and complaining. I reward myself too. Simple stuff. If I get a package in the mail that looks like it might contain something interesting, I won’t let myself open it till the day’s work is done. The writer’s life is about self-motivation, self-discipline, self-reinforcement, and self-validation. I need every trick I can think of to help me keep going.”

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