Book Review: Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

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. 

A book review by Denise Todd

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 should give writers a kick-in-the-butt, Pressfield’s kick is equally effective for all creative media. 

 Pressfield originally defined resistance in his book “The War of Art,” and I recommend you read that also. But if you’re short on time, he gives a nice recap of The War of Art in Do your Work. 

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 creative enemies and allies we all face, and points out that they are the same enemies and allies we experience 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.”

That spoke to me and now resides on a stickie note stuck to my computer. Profound. 

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 and 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 brief 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. 

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” 

Stupidity is a good thing. He talked 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.

New, and even experienced writers, fall into thinking small. It’s comfortable there. But Pressfield discourages small thinking, he says to

“…swing for the seat.”

go big, be bold, up your premise, and increase the stakes. But remember––be ready for resistance, especially here. It will rear its ugly head, but Pressfield promises, and I have found it 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 increased my pages per day and changed the way I react that little devil on my left shoulder, sowing doubt and fear. Now, instead of listening to him, I know

And I choose to thrive in that creative realm. I choose to be brave and magnificent, if only on the page. 

“Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self.”

 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. 

Other works by Steven Pressfield:


1 thought on “Book Review: Do the Work by Steven Pressfield”

  1. Denise says:

    Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

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Denise Todd