Steven Pressfield’s short, punchy book Do The Work reminds us that all worthwhile endeavors involve focused, determined, and disciplined effort. This is especially true for creative work, and that is certainly an area where he is experienced and accomplished – I’ve not read his fiction work, but I know at least one of his books was turned into a popular movie starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron (The Leggend of Bagger Vance).
The matter is simple, according to Pressfield. In order to create, Resistance must be overcome. What is Resistance with a capital “R”? It’s the force – including your own internal voice of doubt and fear – that actively works against your efforts to create something new and present it to the world.
Resistance was introduced in his first non-fiction book, The War of Art, which is a great read and articulates the challenge of creative work quite thoroughly. Do The Work is a follow up to that piece to that work. Here, he attempts to provide more guidance for completing a creative project, broken into four parts – Beginning, Middle, Middle, and End.
In the beginning you need to start. No excuses, no preparation, just get the ball rolling. In the middle you need to work around forces that are actively working against you. In the other middle, well, that’s where things inevitably go wrong. That’s where you need to regroup, refocus, and recover. In the end, you need to ship. You need to actually deliver your creation to the world. Easier said than done. All throughout this process Pressfield points out the pitfalls, articulates the challenges clearly, and ably guides the reader through the daunting process of creative work.
With a style that is raw and direct, Pressfield challenges you to face the facts of creation and do the work. If you’re thinking of creating something, or if you’re just curious to explore the creative process more closely, check out this book.