Derek Sivers
Do the Work - by Steven Pressfield

Do the Work - by Steven Pressfield

ISBN: 1936719010
Date read: 2011-10-25
How strongly I recommend it: 9/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

A true manifesto. A call to action. A kick in the butt for any creative person. Great thoughts on overcoming the resistance to creating.

my notes

Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity --OR-- any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these acts will elicit Resistance.

Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

Resistance will unfailingly point to true North - meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Fear doesn’t go away. The battle must be fought anew every day.

Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneur’s worst enemy.

The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are. The last thing we want is to remain as we are.

Prepare yourself to make new friends.

Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies.

Clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be - and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.
How do we achieve this state of mind? By staying stupid. By not allowing ourselves to think.
A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman.
It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.

Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

When is the best time to start?
Start Before You’re Ready.
Don’t prepare.

The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.

Courage begets more courage.

Research can become Resistance.

Conception occurs at the primal level.

It is better to be primitive than to be sophisticated, and better to be stupid than to be smart.

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

A trick that screenwriters use: work backwards. Begin at the finish. If you’re writing a movie, solve the climax first. If you’re opening a restaurant, begin with the experience you want the diner to have when she walks in and enjoys a meal.

Figure out where you want to go; then work backwards from there.

End first, then beginning and middle. That’s your startup, that’s your plan

I was thirty years old before I had an actual thought. Everything up till then was either what Buddhists call “monkey-mind” chatter or the reflexive regurgitation of whatever my parents or teachers said, or whatever I saw on the news or read in a book, or heard somebody rap about, hanging around the street corner. In this book, when I say “Don’t think,” what I mean is: don’t listen to the chatter. Pay no attention to those rambling, disjointed images and notions that drift across the movie screen of your mind. Those are not your thoughts. They are chatter. They are Resistance.

Its aim is to reconcile you to “the way it is,” to make you exactly like everyone else, to render you amenable to societal order and discipline.

Where do our own real thoughts come from? How can we access them? From what source does our true, authentic self speak? Answering that is the work you and I will do for the rest of our lives.

Remember our three mantras: Stay primitive. Trust the soup. Swing for the seats. And our final-final precept: 4. Be ready for Resistance.

When you and I set out to create anything - art, commerce, science, love - or to advance in the direction of a higher, nobler version of ourselves, we uncork from the universe, ineluctably, an equal and opposite reaction. That reaction is Resistance. Resistance is an active, intelligent, protean, malign force - tireless, relentless, and inextinguishable - whose sole object is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals. The universe is not indifferent. It is actively hostile. Every principle espoused so far in this volume is predicated upon that truth. The aim of every axiom set forth thus far is to outwit, outflank, outmaneuver Resistance. We can never eliminate Resistance. It will never go away. But we can outsmart it, and we can enlist allies that are as powerful as it is. One thing we can never, never permit ourselves to do is to take Resistance lightly, to underestimate it or to fail to take it into account.

A feature film should have seven or eight major sequences. That’s a pretty good guideline for our play, our album, our State of the Union address. A video game should have seven or eight major movements; so should the newest high-tech gadget, or the latest fighter plane. Our new house should have seven or eight major spaces.

When movie writers pitch a project, they boil down their presentation to the following: A killer opening scene Two major set pieces in the middle A killer climax A concise statement of the theme In other words, they’re filling in the gaps. The major beats.

One rule for first full working drafts: get them done ASAP. Don’t worry about quality. Act, don’t reflect. Momentum is everything. Get to THE END as if the devil himself were breathing down your neck and poking you in the butt with his pitchfork. Believe me, he is.

Don’t stop. Don’t look down. Don’t think. Suspend All Self-Judgment

Act, reflect. Act, reflect. NEVER act and reflect at the same time.
“Action” means putting words on paper.
“Reflection” means evaluating what we have on paper.

Forget rational thought. Play. Play like a child. Why does this purely instinctive, intuitive method work? Because our idea (our song, our ballet, our new Tex-Mex restaurant) is smarter than we are.

Our job is not to control our idea; our job is to figure out what our idea is (and wants to be) - and then bring it into being. The song we’re composing already exists in potential. Our work is to find it.

Read Bob Dylan’s Chronicles. The lengths he goes to to find a song (or an arrangement or a producing partner) are beyond insanity. He does it all by instinct. Fearless, child-like, primitive instinct.

When an idea pops into our head and we think, “No, this is too crazy,” … that’s the idea we want.

Stephen King has confessed that he works every day.

How much time can you spare each day? For that interval, close the door and - short of a family emergency or the outbreak of World War III - don’t let ANYBODY in. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Keep

At least twice a week, I pause in the rush of work and have a meeting with myself. (If I were part of a team, I’d call a team meeting.) I ask myself, again, of the project: “What is this damn thing about?” Keep refining your understanding of the theme; keep narrowing it down.

“What is this project about?” “What is its theme?” “Is every element serving that theme?”

Ask yourself, “What’s missing?” Then fill that gap.

There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us.

“It will kill you. It will kill you like cancer.” This enemy is intelligent, protean, implacable, inextinguishable, and utterly ruthless and destructive. Its aim is not to obstruct or to hamper or to impede. Its aim is to kill.

This Enemy Is Inside You

all those off-court forces, like fame and ego (not to mention crazed fans, the press, agents, sponsors, and ex-wives), that worked against the players’ chances for on-court success. He called these forces “peripheral opponents.”

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

The Enemy Is Inside You, But It Is Not You

Resistance arises second. What comes first is the idea, the passion, the dream of the work we are so excited to create that it scares the hell out of us. Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self.

The opposite of fear is love - love of the challenge, love of the work, the pure joyous passion to take a shot at our dream and see if we can pull it off.

Test Number One “How bad do you want it?”

Dabbling • Interested • Intrigued but Uncertain • Passionate • Totally Committed   If your answer is not the one on the far right, put this book down and throw it away.

The only items you get to keep are love for the work, will to finish, and passion to serve the ethical, creative Muse.

A crash means we’re at the threshold of learning something, which means we’re getting better, we’re acquiring the wisdom of our craft. A crash compels us to figure out what works and what doesn’t work - and to understand the difference.

Playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.