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Do the Work

Steven Pressfield • Rating: 10 / 10
Do the Work

I picked up “Do the Work” the next day I finished “Turning Pro” and wow, what a delight. “Do the Work” is a third part of “The War of Art” series. Now that we met the Resistance, we need to learn how to beat it.

This book has a laser-sharp focus on what it takes to get your shit together and take your work from start to finish. It’s full of kick-in-the-butts you need through every stage of the project.

”Do the Work” has no detours. Page one, it gets straight to the point. I love that.

An absolute must-read and one more item on my yearly reading list.

My notes

We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

Start before you’re ready.

Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. It does not arise from rivals, bosses, spouses, children, terrorists, lobbyists, or political adversaries.

It comes from us.

You can board a spaceship to Pluto and settle, all by yourself, into a perfect artist’s cottage ten zillion miles from Earth. Resistance will still be with you. The enemy is inside you.

The enemy is in you, but it is not you. No moral judgment attaches to the possession of it. You “have” Resistance the same way you “have” a heartbeat. You are blameless. You retain free will and the capacity to act.

Finishing is the critical part of any project. If we can’t finish, all our work is for nothing.

Have you seen this great New Yorker cartoon:

A perplexed person stands before two doors. One door says HEAVEN. The other says BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN.

What makes us laugh, I suspect, is that all of us feel the pull to pick BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN.

When we’re offered a chance at heaven, what diabolically craven force makes us want to back off—just for now, we promise ourselves—and choose instead heaven’s pale reflection?

When we ship, we’re exposed. That’s why we’re so afraid of it. When we ship, we’ll be judged. The real world will pronounce upon our work and upon us. When we ship, we can fail. When we ship, we can be humiliated.

Just because you’ve shipped doesn’t mean Resistance is finished. Like the Terminator, it’s morphing into an even crueler and more diabolical form. It’ll be back.

Research can become Resistance. We want to work, not prepare to work.

Better to have written a lousy ballet than to have composed no ballet at all.

The universe is not indifferent. It is actively hostile.

Don’t worry about quality. Act, don’t reflect. Momentum is everything.

Suspending self-judgment doesn’t just mean blowing off the “You suck” voice in our heads. It also means liberating ourselves from conventional expectations—from what we think our work “ought” to be or “should” look like.

If your notion violates every precept I’ve set forth in these pages, tell me to go to hell. Do what that voice says.

When an idea pops into our head and we think, “No, this is too crazy,” that’s the idea we want. When we think, “This notion is completely off the wall… should I even take the time to work on this?”, the answer is yes.

A work-in-progress generates its own energy field. You, the artist or entrepreneur, are pouring love into the work; you are suffusing it with passion and intention and hope. This is serious juju. The universe responds to this. It has no choice.