It’s a Kick in the Ass

I will write the Great American Novel by the time I’m 18.

I will write the Great American Novel.

I will write a novel.

I will write.

Between ages 14 and 40, my goals changed dramatically, from starting with the heavy weights to lifting manageable weights every day.

I was reminded of this when I read Steve’s post “Thinking in Blocks of Time,” which is among the articles included as additional reading in part three of The War of Art Mini-Course.

In the article, Steve talks about returning from a vacation and gearing up to get back to work. The first thing he says he’ll do is “stop myself from thinking in terms of immediate gratification.” Instead, he’ll make himself think in blocks of time, and gradually build into writing. He’ll “not use the big muscles yet.” Instead, he’ll stick to “the little ones.”

Steve’s process for returning from vacation is similar to the process of building a career.

My 14 year old thinking should have started with “the little ones” first.

I will write.

I will write an article.

I will write a short story.

I will write a novel.

I will write a novel someone other than my dad wants to read.

I will write a novel that will sell.

This past week, a few of you e-mailed to ask about the just launched The War of Art Mini-Course.

The theme of many of the questions? Is it worth the time for long-time readers of “Writing Wednesdays” and Steve’s books? Is there something new? Will it offer specific steps that will take me to a higher level?

It’s hard to answer these questions with a one-size-fits-all answer just like it’s hard to obtain one description of a flame from individuals looking at it through different panes of a multi-colored lantern.

Here’s what the mini-course did for me:

I know Steve’s work and have reread his articles and books numerous times. When Shawn asked Steve questions within the mini-course, I had a gauge on how Steve would answer in advance of him answering. I went into the course with a heavy load of background knowledge. At the end of the fifth episode, though . . . He still kicked my ass into gear. Why?

After listening to the mini-course, I started thinking about the five steps Steve and Shawn pulled out within the five-part mini-course.

  • Identify Resistance
  • Study and learn Resistance’s playbook
  • Fight to overcome Resistance
  • Understand the Hero’s Journey and Resistance’s role in the journey
  • Embark on the Artist’s Journey and employ the tools forged during the Hero’s Journey (and keep fighting Resistance).

I’ve known the first four steps, and the fifth is one I’ve just recently give more thought to, via Steve’s recent “Artist Journey” posts via “Writing Wednesdays,” but the progression isn’t something I’ve spent time on in the past. Something about hearing Steve and Shawn talking vs. me reading the words. The rhythm of their voices. Steve breaking in on Shawn. Stream of consciousness. I wasn’t surprised  by what they said, but I was surprised by what I took away.

Then I started going through all the linked articles in the additional reading sections. It was a bit like being reintroduced to an old friend. I hadn’t forgotten them, but I hadn’t thought of them in such a long time, that they weren’t at the top. I’d stopped considering the lessons shared. They reminded me of things I could be doing better myself. One example? Thinking in blocks of time.

I’ve struggled with blocks of time these past few years. Actually . . . If I’m being honest . . . I’ve struggled with blocks of time for about 15 years, ever since I added “Mom” to my list of titles. My dream work slipped. That stuff that comes as I’m slipping off to sleep each night, and swirls around inside my head? Shelved. I waited for a better time. Maybe when the kids aren’t babies I’ll do it. Maybe when the kids don’t have so many activities. Maybe when work settles down. Maybe after I take care of the roof damage caused by the hail storm. Maybe after I get that new computer or that innovative program. Maybe after I take that class. The Maybe list is long.

Going through the mini-course and all the additional reading was kin to turning a mirror on myself. I know there’s always self improvement work in need of doing, but it forced me to be honest with myself.

It also forced me to revisit my 14 year old self and realize that I had slipped into the heavy weights thinking again, which leads to absolutely nothing getting done.

Maybe the course will be a reminder for you, too.

Maybe you’ll be like that guy who wrote in and said he thought it was awful.

Maybe you’ll be like the other guy who wrote in with thanks.

I don’t know what the mini-course will do for you.

The only thing I can tell you for certain is this: If you are looking for a course that will provide you answers to all of your questions, this ain’t it. Steve can’t answer all your questions, nor can Shawn. This mini-course isn’t a magic bullet. Finishing it won’t put you on the bestseller list.

Maybe you’ll find instead that it is that thing you pull out whenever you’re struggling, and then when you do pull it out again, maybe it will remind you that you aren’t alone and prove to be the kick in the ass that it was to me.

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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 careers—advertising, 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. Mary Doyle on March 9, 2018 at 4:23 am

    Wow, someone wrote in to say it was awful? I’ll bet Resistance was sitting on one of his shoulders! As a long-time reader here, I confess that I need a lot of reminders. There are lessons I need to learn more than a few times before they stick. The mini-course might not be a magic bullet, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up here to find the message that I most needed to hear at that moment. For me, that IS magic!

  2. Siobhan on March 9, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Maybe it’s like anything. You get what you are ready to get. You get the next step you are able to take, the one you couldn’t even see before. It isn’t new. It resonates on a different level.

  3. Joe on March 9, 2018 at 6:53 am

    In your opening, you describe a distillation. Youthful grandiosity reduced to the concentrated simplicity of three words (which could even go down to two words). That how I was looking at this mini-course. Hey, it’s kind of like doing shots. War of Art shots. 100 proof. Line ’em up, barkeep.

  4. Doon on March 9, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Great stuff. I’m thinking a whole episode might be dedicated to the booze & drugs form of resistance. They’re a little different from distraction, procrastination etc. In that they impersonate success. Ie. Have 3 drinks & you’ll be telling the world about the incredible novel you’re writing even the you haven’t put your ass in front of a computer for 2 years.

  5. Maria Xenidou on March 9, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Hi Callie,

    As Seth Godin would say, “who is this for?” and “what is this for?” are the two questions that really matter for this course and everything else that Steve has created for his followers and readers.

    Your words resonated deeply with me. You described very accurately the impact the mini-course had on me. Thank you.

    I am launching the second chapter of my career. I recently hit the restart button. Steve’s words in the mini-course spoke directly to my heart and soul and brain. It’s like a mentor who has had the journey of a professional artist throughout his life and is now guiding me to navigate through my own journey.

    So yes, it is for me and it is having a major impact on my life. I have listened to each episode mumtiple times because the Resistance is still strong. Steve has laid out the path. Between his work and that of Seth Godin, I know that Doing The Work is all that matters.

    Thank you,

  6. BarbaraNH on March 9, 2018 at 7:44 am

    As with all the books and posts from you all, I loved the mini-course! Resistance doesn’t go away. Even. It’s great just hearing it over again.
    This morning I have already posted to my blog and added more notes for a memoir I’m submitting to a write friend every Sunday.
    Yes! A great kick in the ass — thanks so much! Putting my ass where my heart is.

  7. Stephanie Holbrook on March 9, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Great info! I fight resistance all the time! I am all for anything that helps me combat it! Thank you for creating the course!

  8. Amy Duncan on March 9, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Well, I personally loved the mini-course. I’ve read “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro” over and over, and will continue to do so, so the course for me was like a series of reminders with a few added tips, and of course it was way fun because it was Steve talking. And it was free. Free! How many great things can you get online for FREE?

  9. Bing on March 9, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Dear Callie,
    I am sorta an old timer here. This mini-course has triggered many emotions. I thought maybe I graduated from this site that I have moved on to higher transformation teachers. For me this war of art material is cyclical. The last three years I have been on a powerful journey of ups and downs and here I am writing on this site again. What is new is I have a profound respect for Steve’s work on resistance. I cannot ignore his teaching or just walk away from it. This also applies to Callie and Shawn. I also have a new respect for all of you on this journey, I have more compassion respect and love. I am walking with mighty companions.

  10. Jim Gant on March 9, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Well, I’m in. I will let you know how it goes…I am sure it will be great!
    Be good, do good…

  11. Julie Murphy on March 9, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    When the student is ready..
    A year ago I was reading Linchpin. When I reached the part where Seth explained Steve’s work, I immediately stopped reading drove to the bookstore and bought The War of Art. Linchpin and The War of Art we’re a commencement for me–both an ending and a beginning–and I’ve never looked back.

    When you find folks that are strong enough to tell you the truth, even if you can’t fully hear it, you stay with them and find a way to listen better.

    If you can’t kick your own ass or put it where your heart wants to be then the next best thing is to find someone who has. And, if you’re really, really lucky…they will have written a guidebook you can take along with you as well.

    Thanks for the reminders, Callie.

  12. Nancy Enn on March 9, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Writing – or learning to write is like any craft you want to master. I paint with watercolors. I don’t stink. But I could definitely benefit from lessons or at least watch some you tube videos to see how others paint rocks and then let it evolve into my own style. If I want to be better I can’t sleep in my resistance, I get it. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing . Let it go. I loved the mini course.

  13. Madalena Penny on March 10, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Well I’ve just signed up to the course, and fingers crossed, it will get me off my arse and out of my funk. If not to write amazing, spectacular, well sppelled righting – it may give me a new perspective. I pop by this blog every now and then, and even interesting writers like Callie can get me thinking, but I find the comments from the members here inspiring. I’m a copywriter, and unfortunately I get paid for writing crap, (well researched and well written crap, I may add). I write press releases for companies selling their wares, articles and features for sad rags looking to make a profit from advertising. And yes, I make a good living from it, even ghostwriting for people for politicians in those in the public eye can be soul destroying.

    I’ve been involved with a number of publishing projects, and even written a number of books. However, the academic and inspiring projects that have been published produce very little royalties. Yet, the erotic stuff I’ve written sells bloody well and keeps a roof over my head and bread on table.

    So, to my point. I urge you – write what is in you. Write what is in your nature to be. Do not get into that publishing, writers need to see their book in print at any cost. You could lose your soul along the way.

  14. Sandra on March 14, 2018 at 8:16 am

    I owe a great deal to the information presented here. Please keep it coming….

  15. Sandra on March 14, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I look forward to each post. It’s the kick in the *ss I need now and again. Thank you!

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