Resistance Comes Second

A thought to remember when we wake up each morning and confront anew that dastardly dragon:

Resistance comes second.

Resistance is the shadow, the tree is the Dream.

The Dream comes first. The dream of whatever work or enterprise or endeavor you and I are called to.

Resistance is the shadow cast by that dream.

Resistance is the equal-and-opposite-reaction of nature to the New Thing that you and I are called to bring forth out of nothing.

There would be no Resistance without the Dream. The Dream comes first. Resistance follows.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Resistance’s strength is equal to the power of the Dream. Big Resistance = Big Dream. No Resistance = no dream.

So if you wake up tomorrow morning overwhelmed with fear, dread, and negative energy, that’s a good sign. The massive shadow that you’re experiencing is being cast by an equally massive tree—the tree of your dream, your vision, your calling.

The negative implies the positive. The more daunting the negative, the more brilliant the positive.

Resistance has no power of its own. It’s a shadow, nothing more. As soon as we learn to look past the shadow to the Dream that has cast it, the shadow loses all power over us.


Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1


A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careersÔÇöadvertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. gary on June 5, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Hi Steve (all the way from New Zealand)

    I’m delighted to be the first to make comment for a change. I’m working on an idea at present “that all champions / winners … play injured” That by the time they reach the end game or end of the game … (final draft)they have taken so many hits that they have just enough juice left to make it back to the dressing room. (some even have to be carried) I’m beginning to think that in our heart of hearts … all of us know that we are going to have to take some really big hits to make our dreams come true and as a consequence … this single innate knowing is the ultimate source of all resistance! Most people infatuate with the idea of following their dream, (that if it is meant to be … it should be easy) … and are therefore the easiest meat for resistance. I’d be interested on your comments.

    How do you protect yourself against this? What do you do / think / say to give yourself courage? Do you put on a flak jacket and helmet when you start a new project or do you act like the Bedouin of the dessert whose attitude is one of “God’s Will”



    • skip on June 5, 2013 at 6:10 am

      to quote a line of lawrence of arabia re God’s will–> nothing is written. ie we write our own story, every day.

    • Beth Barany on June 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Gary, I just have to chime in that I feel this keenly usually toward the end of the project just how much the project is “costing” me, both in energy, the dismissal of other projects, loss of contact with certain people. But then I gather my supportive tribe, think of all the people who will benefit from my book, and all the new, unknown, and scary opportunities ahead of me, and gather strength from all that. On the projects that matter, I do have to face this decision every time.

  2. skip on June 5, 2013 at 6:11 am

    steve–> for me this is your best yet…simple and profound !….thnx, semper fi………

  3. Carla Smith on June 5, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Failing to become who we intuitively know we are, deep inside, is the fear. We sense our own possibility and cower in the reach. No, it’s the fear that maybe we are not doing enough, that we are not talented enough, and we worry about becoming the homeless bag lady in the street. Butt in the chair doesn’t always pay bills.
    Sometimes, I think when we let go of the highly defined picture of the end result and begin to live in the day to day with all of our desire and intent, when we do what we must and can do with all that we are, there are powers that awaken and we make space for the universe/muses to assist. The end result can be far more astonishing than we ever imagined.

  4. Mary Lynn on June 5, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Yes! Thank you, Steven.

  5. Natalieahart on June 5, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Although I imagine there will be days when this idea will drag me down (i.e. the sun is low and it seems like the shadow Resistance is waaay longer than the tree Vision), but today it sets me free. By calling it the shadow, I hear the Jungian echoes — indeed, our shadow is always there, Resistance will always be there. Being terrified and freaked out doesn’t mean the Vision is bad, just as having a shadow/dark side to my personality doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s just something to understand and learn from and work through. Thank you, Steven.

  6. Martha M Moravec on June 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

    This post is so apt for me today, it sent chills down my spine. Thank you so much, Steven. And to everyone else for your thoughtful comments. It is helpful right now to know I am not alone.

  7. Marysia on June 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

    So so true. But thanks for the reminder, I should be scared as I am trying to move several big mountains that have so far defied me ­čśë
    Love your writing Wednesdays ­čśë
    P.S Off the back of your previous post I read the Twyla Tharp book, thanks for the great recommendation. I write and perform my own shows so her calm hand on the tiller was great

  8. York on June 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Thank you for writing this.

    It took me a while to realize it myself. It was driving me nuts that as my resolve to get the job done grew stronger, so did the ominous nature of the vices that sought to overpower me. They’re chained together in perpetual battle. Until the day the job gets done and the next project starts.

    It’s great to know that other people experience similar situations and that I’m not insane.

  9. Diana J Febry on June 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Brilliantly simple.

  10. Wonderful post Steven. I just launched a project whose goal is to achieve something big. I know resistance is plotting to show back up soon and remind me of that. So I’m working fast to get some small wins before the little bastard shows up again.

    Thanks for the encouragement and the realization that it’s about the big dream/goal that makes resistance keep showing up.


  11. David Y.B. Kaufmann on June 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Why does the Shadow exist? Because the Dream cannot become real without it.
    In Kabbalistic terms, Resistance (the negative inclination) does its best to prevent us from succeeding, because that’s it’s job. But it wants to be overcome, wants us to defeat it, because realization of the Dream (in spiritual terms, overcoming evil, bring holiness and goodness into the world) is the goal.

    We see this in competition, and it’s the appeal of sports – in any form – easy games are fun for a while, but quickly bore. We rise to the level of the competition, because the Dream needs Resistance, needs to be tested.

    Thanks, as always.

  12. Mariane on June 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Nice! I try to stay just under the Resistance radar as I go on when its been crushing me for awhile… just a little bit here, and a litle bit there… sorting out some papers… using large bold colored pencils… scribbeling… and all of a sudden there I go! ah. and another thing that has worked and is working miracles for me. I am just doing ONE thing each day. whatever else, just ONE thing. if other stuff gets done thats fine if there is no stress involved, but NO running. No fretting. just this one thing I have decided is the goal of the day. and every day, if possible, I go for a walk. as slowly as I manage. I stop and look and watch. Its interesting. how my foot feels when it touches the ground. the feeling in my knee. how the muscles cooperate. a bird. the tram passing. a guy with a dog. small things.

    strangely enough the last weeks I have accomplished far more regarding progress than the last 6 months together.

  13. Pamela Hodges on June 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Without my dream I am nothing.

    I am a woman who cooks, washes dishes, does laundry, and cleans seven litter boxes. I am invisible.
    Only my dream gives me a shadow and a reason to fight the Dragon Resistance.

    “As soon as we learn to look past the shadow to the Dream that has cast it, the shadow loses all power over us.”

    I will print this out and tape it to my computer. Thank you for disarming the Dragon Mr. Pressfield.

  14. Victoria on June 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I’d like to post this on the Book Doctor’s FB page tomorrow morning with credit to you. I’m also printing it and putting it by my desk. I must have a humdinger of a dream because it’s resisted me since last year.

  15. Tracie Fielden on June 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for this post.
    My father, 87 and still with me, made a chalk drawing when he was in grade school. Someone had it framed and now it’s mine.
    An abstract from a very young artist of stylized trees with elongated colorful shadows.
    After reading your post that drawing absorbed me. It tells more of my dreams and resistance than I could ever express in words. The drawing now sits right in from of me so that I can see it clearly when I write. The dreams are solid, the resistance, although colorful, is not real. Thanks Steve. Until your post I never really knew the value of that drawing other than a momento from my precious Dad. Tracie

  16. David McWilliams on June 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you so much for this.

    I stumbled across your writing back in college; now I’ve stumbled across it again. It’s always exactly what I need to hear.

    All the best,


  17. Marc on June 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I relish in reading these Writing Wednesday posts. They are more like a horoscope (and more accurate!)than blog posts. I read them and say, “Yes! That is what I’m doing and how I’m feeling!” This one especially. Thanks as always for the insight.

  18. Randy Ehrler on June 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Thanks Steve! I recently read Do the Work and it has really helped me to stand tall everyday. Resistance comes in many forms and your work is helping me recognize it for what it is and acknowledge that it will always be present. I have spent a great deal of my life “waiting” for the distractions, obstacles and challenges to diminish so I could get started. This may be common, I am not sure, but to wait until the children are raised, all the bills are paid, retirement, or any other “IT” that stands between you and your dream is to be defeated – the dream is DOA. Now I understand that Resistance is that which sharpens the saw and forces my growth – the ability to achieve my dreams comes by way of growth achieved by slaying the dragon of resistance on a daily basis.
    Excellent work – I look forward to each posting.

  19. Laura K. Cowan on July 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Well, good, because I am terrified. ­čÖé Seriously, though, thanks for the reminder.

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