I’ve been attending press junkets since the ’80s, and I can tell you that whenever you hear a journalist use the word “pressure” in a question to a director, actor or screenwriter (i.e., “how much pressure did you feel in having to accomplish this or that?”) that is a guaranteed tipoff that the person asking the question is a second-rate tool. All they have to do is say the word “pressure” and right away you’ll know.
The essence of pressure is being stuck with a tough problem that you’re not sure you can handle and especially not having enough time. Something like, oh, Sean Connery trying to figure out how to defuse that nuclear bomb inside of Fort Knox at the the end of Goldfinger with 37 seconds to go. Zen artists don’t look at creative challenges that way. There’s no bomb about to go off. A composer either knows how the tune sounds or he doesn’t. What’s the point of writing anything if you don’t have something in your head to start with? Any writer worth his or her salt knows what what needs to be said or explored or drilled into. The writing process is simply about putting it down in some kind of legible blueprint form. It changes and evolves during that process, but there’s no pressure in that.
To hell with pressure as a concept. Do people feel pressure to get out of bed in the morning? No — you get out of bed because you’re all slept out or because you’re hungry for the day to begin or whatever. Did I feel pressure when I worked as a waiter at the Spring Street Bar in the late ’70s? I guess so but who cares? Do people feel pressure to hit the gas wen the light turns green? Do hikers walking across the Golden Gate bridge for exercise…do they feel pressure not to jump off and commit suicide? I suppose you could say that there are different degrees of pressure and expectation that go with almost any activity but it’s a banal way of looking at it.
Douchebag journalist to James Cameron: “Do you ever feel the pressure of topping yourself? And do you have a release date you can share with us for Avatar 2 and 3?”
Cameron: “Pressure, no. It’s a little daunting because sequels are always tricky. You have to be surprising and stay ahead of audience anticipation. At the same time, you have to massage their feet with things that they know and love about the first film. I’ve walked that line in the past, so I’m not too worried about it. At the same time, I definitely have to deliver the goods. As for a release date that will be determined by when I get the script out. No pressure!”