Most of Steven Pressfield’s books about the creative process revolve around the theme of Resistance. Resistance is that inner voice in our own heads that doesn’t allow us to see our goals through.
We get in our own way because of resistance. It is a negative force that distracts and derails us from progressing. It is universal and everyone faces it on a daily basis. If you don’t control it, it will take control over you.
Do the work is the sequel to The War of Art and teaches us how to beat resistance.
The hardest part of starting something new is taking that first step because we’re afraid of the unknown. You’re never going to be perfectly ready, you just have to take that leap of faith.
The Enemy is not preparation The Enemy is Resistance. Start before you’re ready if you don’t, resistance will get you before the stars align.
It is always better to start and figure it out along on the way rather than trying to figure it out and let resistance beat you from even starting.
If you’re writing a movie you solve the climax first. If you’re opening a restaurant you begin with the experience. Start from the end and reverse engineer. End first, then beginning and middle.
You can never truly eliminate resistance, it’s always going to be there, but you can outsmart it and control it. You can’t beat resistance in one go but you can break it down systematically piece by piece.
Any project or enterprise can be broken down into beginning, middle, and end. Fill in the gaps; then fill in the gaps between the gaps.
Once you’ve begun, you must now trust the process. The process progresses in two stages: action and reflection. Act, reflect. Act, reflect. Don’t act and reflect at the same time.
Resistance is a dragon that blocks you from your goals. You can’t be nice with it or negotiate with it, you have to confront it head-on and beat it. Don’t get in your own way, sit down and just do the work.
When you’re fighting the dragon, there may be times where you fall short. It’s inevitable you will crash and burn but that’s ok.
It means you need to work around another way. You still have a lot of learning to do and a lot more to grow.
Finishing is the most crucial part of any project. Seth Godin calls it shipping. If we can’t finish it, then it means all our work is for nothing.
A lot of us don’t showcase our abilities and act on that voice in our heads because we’re afraid of what the world might say. We’re afraid of our own success.
There’s a great New York Cartoon where a perplexed person stands before two doors. One door says HEAVEN. The other says BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN. All of us immediately have the urge to pick BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN.
Even when we’re offered a chance at heaven, we pick books about heaven because we’re afraid. Fear of success is the essence of resistance.
When we ship, we’re exposed. We put ourselves out there, and we’re vulnerable to criticism and judgment. A lot of people don’t ship because they’ve rejected themselves.
Steven Pressfield’s first professional writing job was in a movie called King Kong Lives. He expected it to be a blockbuster, but nobody showed.
Next day came the review in Variety:
That’s when Steven Pressfield slayed his dragon at 42. He’s never had trouble finishing anything again. Always deliver. Always ship.
Start before you’re ready. Finish what you start and always ship.