I recently snagged a free copy of a book called Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (it’s still free!) after hearing Marie Forleo talk about it and interview the author. She also talked about his other book, The War of Art, so I grabbed a copy of that to read before Do the Work.
I’m so glad I did. The War of Art is a small, easy-to-read book that touches on one enormous reason people don’t succeed at their dreams:
Pressfield gives you pages of information on how resistance manifests itself:
What does Resistance feel like? First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.
And interestingly, Pressfield also talks about resistance as a something useful:
Resistance is directly proportional to love. It you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.
The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you– and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.
This book made a lot of sense to me, and I know it will make sense to other writers, artists, creators– anyone who has a drive to do something, make something, bring some dream or goal to life will devour this book. I have an old, worn library copy in my possession right now, but this is the kind of book I would buy, read a million times, highlight the crap out of, take notes on, and reference in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep but can’t bring myself to write. You know what I mean? It’s like a kick in the pants– actually, more accurately, it’s like pulling the wool back from over your eyes. I’ve always understood the fear surrounding writing for me (and yes, just doing it gets rid of the resistance and makes me feel better, but starting is terrifying), but this book plainly and clearly points out what resistance is, how it feels, what it looks like in your life, and how you can practically work through it.
I’ll leave you with this (hopefully you’ll check the book out if you’re feeling any kind of resistance around something you truly, fiercely, ABSOLUTELY have. to. do. with. your. amazing. life):
Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
That’s a pro.
In terms of Resistance, Maugham was saying, “I despise Resistance; I will not let it faze me; I will sit down and do my work.”
Maugham reckoned another, deeper truth: that by performing the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work, he set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration, as surely as if the goddess had synchronized her watch with his.
He knew if he built it, she would come.