Ever had those nagging thoughts that you aren’t really a writer, you don’t have the time, or if only “X” (insert your excuse) you could finish that novel? Steven Pressfield, in his book “Do the Work” calls this resistance and it’s a must read for new and experienced writers alike.
Pressfield writes that resistance points are “…those junctures where fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, and all those other demons we’re all so familiar with can be counted upon to strike.” And although the book was intended to give writers a kick-in-the-butt, Pressfield’s kick is equally effective for all creative medium.
Pressfield originally defined resistance in his book “The War of Art,” and I highly recommend you read it. But if you’re short on time, he gives a nice recap of “The War of Art” here in “Do your Work.”
Resistance awakens with “… any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.” So, that ice cream bar you ate while on a diet, that college degree you’ve been putting off, skipping your morning workout, and not writing today, you guessed it — resistance.
He walks you through the enemies and allies we all face creatively, but as you’ll see, we find the same enemies and allies in everyday life.
“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
He states resistance is invisible, insidious, impersonal, infallible, and ubiquitous. The bad news: it NEVER goes away, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can keep it at bay to experience those moments of flow, productivity, and personal growth.
The good news: Pressfield offers straight forward, common sense, actionable suggestions. And I can tell you from my own short experience in applying them — they work!
He dives into the beginning, middle, and end of your writing process. Explains the resistance you will feel, and how to overcome it.
To get you started,
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Getting through the tough middle, he recommends “… Stupidity. Stubbornness. Blind faith. We are too dumb to quit and too mullish to back off.” Stupidity is a good thing. He is talking about not letting all the noise in your head, all the information you know block you from being creative. Be stupid – don’t think about how hard it is to succeed – just do it.
Another trick I like is the concept of “Trust the Soup.” In my other life (you know, the one that brings home the bacon), we call this – trust the process. “… letting go of the need to control (which we can’t do anyway) and put your faith instead in the Source, the Mystery, the Quantum Soup.” Quantum Soup – I just love that. It rings of universal consciousness and simplicity at the same time.
And one (of many) traps new, and even experienced writers fall into is thinking small. He says to “swing for the seat.” Go big, be bold, up your premise, increase the stakes. But remember – be ready for resistance especially here. It will rear its ugly head, but Pressfield states, and I have found to be true, that once you ward off (you never really slay) the dragon of resistance, it’s easier the next time around.
I highly recommend this book. It immediately increased my pages per day, and changed the way I handle that little devil on my left shoulder sowing doubt and fear. Now, instead of listening to him, I know
“Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self.”
And I choose to thrive in that creative realm. I choose to be brave and magnificent.
So, I’ll close this review in the way he closes the book, “Stay stupid. Trust the soup. Start before you’re ready.” And I’ll add, read this book: Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield. It will change you, and your writing, for the better.