We said in last week’s post that self-doubt was simply Resistance. And that the stronger it was, the more certain we could be that we were on the right track.

In other words, Resistance knows more than we do.

Resistance knows (don’t ask me how) how potentially good our work-in-progress is. By some infallible mode of calculation, Resistance can sense when you and I are onto something.

Its response: inflict us with self-doubt in inverse proportion to how potentially good our work might be.

The better the work-in-progress might be, the more Resistance we will feel to doing it.

But there’s another entity who also knows how good our work-in-the-making might be.

The goddess knows.

The Muse knows, even if you and I do not.

When I was working on The Legend of Bagger Vance, I was absolutely certain that no one would be interested in it but me. Two weeks after I sent the manuscript in to my agent, we had a book deal—my first one ever. And a week after that, a movie contract was in the works.

I felt the same way about Gates of Fire. That was 1.2 million copies ago.

In other words, the intense self-doubt I was feeling in both cases was absolutely wrong.

Worse than that, it was an insult to the Muse.

The goddess knows what she’s doing, even if you and I don’t. Our job is to trust her.

No matter how intense the feelings of self-doubt we’re experiencing, we must keep plowing ahead. As Paramahansa Yogananda said about thoughts of faltering or giving in, “You must dismiss them!”

The goddess knows, even if you and I do not.


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. Damian Costa on July 26, 2023 at 1:51 am

    Thank you for the reminder I’m working on my first book. My story how I went from SOS to SOS stuck on stupid to serenity synchronicity.

  2. Kati Reijonen on July 26, 2023 at 1:54 am

    Geez – your post popped into my mailbox at exactly the right time! I am going through the corrections/changes my editor has made to my manuscript, and I am in a terrible state of anxiety, shame, regret and desperation. Resistance screams that I am a shitty writer and have stupid ideas and why oh why did I EVER start writing!!!!!!!

    I certainly hope my Goddess knows what she is doing because I don’t.

    Why is this so hard????

    • Tessa Souter on August 2, 2023 at 7:47 am

      Hahahaha! I LOVE reading these answers because they ring so true. I have a little rule, I do not look at publicity photos of myself or listen to tracks or (especially) watch videos of myself until a serious amount of time has passed because all fill me with horror and self hate! Eek. But a few weeks later I look and think, Wait! This is great! (Not always but enough times to know that my first opinion means nothing!).

  3. Momo on July 26, 2023 at 1:55 am

    This came at just the right time. Thank you!🌷🌺🌸
    “ Its response: inflict us with self-doubt in inverse proportion to how potentially good our work might be.

    The better the work-in-progress might be, the more Resistance we will feel to doing it.”


  4. Harry Black on July 26, 2023 at 2:04 am

    My great gratitude and respect to you Steven.
    All very best to you,

  5. Tolis on July 26, 2023 at 2:05 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve,

    I can’t say something more important for my search than read and paste this part of your post:

    “When I was working on The Legend of Bagger Vance, I was absolutely certain that no one would be interested in it but me. Two weeks after I sent the manuscript in to my agent, we had a book deal—my first one ever. And a week after that, a movie contract was in the works.

    I felt the same way about Gates of Fire. That was 1.2 million copies ago.

    In other words, the intense self-doubt I was feeling in both cases was absolutely wrong.””

    The only thing ‘ll add is what exactly I feel for my work in potential, the one I create all these years:

    I feel like when people will read it, they will all stop reading it after the first page -even the scholars, who am I to create something like that? Actually I feel that the first page will seem very interesting to them, but being so difficult in it’s wholeness and wording, it will shut their minds down in a few minutes and they will think, “no, I’m not doing that. I actually CAN’T do that. Maybe a scholar will do that at a specialized at the topic library.” And ofcourse the scholars will not be interested because noone else will be interested and because I entered the world as a passionate amateur, not a long time connoiseur.

    I also feel that the ending of the book, where I stand now more than a year or maybe two, is a so bewildered thing and that it sucks because it is full of philosophy instead of going full in, and it also has a so limited space where I can’t make “such” an ending, and it also has nothing to offer until the present moment that millions of other books already offered, even all cinematic movies of adventure and awe etc.

    Such a waste.

    It is so strange to feel like that. I cry on the thought.

    Let’s go.

    • Tolis on July 26, 2023 at 2:11 am

      Ah, I also have all people around me already feeling about my creation things like those I feel, just a bit more pitiful. They always remind me in words or indifference or emotional language that this hobby is just this: a hobby. The closest 3 persons to me haven’t actually asked me abot it since… let’s say the first year, that is, about 4 years ago, even though they know that is what I am struggling to create all times.

      Spare me not! These are not my everyday thoughts. I just had the chance now to save them here for future reference.

      • Jackie on July 26, 2023 at 5:10 am

        Tolis, we can’t control what people think. We can control our own thoughts. Most people think I have a lovely hobby too. Writing is WORK! We know it. Keep to it. Write brother, write.

  6. Carole on July 26, 2023 at 2:17 am

    Steven, thanks so much for this post. I love all your posts but this one has landed at exactly the right time. I’m experiencing a lot of self doubt about the project I’m just beginning. I’m writing a novel unlike anything I’ve done before, and I’ve never felt such Resistance and doubt about writing. The procrastination is practically killing me on this one. Your post is a reminder I’m on the right track. Thank you!

  7. Fanny Díaz on July 26, 2023 at 2:31 am

    Steven, thank you for this dose of inspiration! Yesterday I spent the evening watching videos, overwhelmed by Resistance. Today’s post is a reminder of trust and keep working on. Thanks again and again!

  8. Kathryn Cooper on July 26, 2023 at 2:37 am

    Question- at what point do you show your work to someone? My writing has felt personal and sacred. It is my first real writing effort. It is coming from an all is lost moment In my life and it it had poured out of me. I have felt that having someone else read it would sort of break the spell. It would create a contrivance. But I also recognize self doubt and fear in all of the ways you describe. As time is passing – 9 months and 30,000 words, I am feeling like feedback would be helpful. It needs a little “assembly” maybe before showing it to someone else. So the questions are : 1. When is the right time to being someone else in? 2. How to choose that person? 3. Do I put it in more order first or just give them what I’ve got? Thank you anyone for feedback/experience.

    • Tolis on July 26, 2023 at 3:19 am

      Dear Kathryn I wish the best for you and your creation. I don’t have the appropriate knowledge about your question. I only instictively bring an idea to the table: that maybe one should show their work to someone (important, non-emotional for emotionals make mistakes, and knowledgable on the goal they want to achieve, e.g. public success) when they have struggled so much with their creation and their indirect doubts, that they -in a way- no longer care if the opinion of another person will be good or bad, although they know it will be very useful. So I would consider the best timing as internal, not external. And I guess we won’t “care” partially for someone’s opinion when we’ll have fought against all our demons against our creation for long enough and with all our weapons.

      Just food for thought.

      • Kathryn Cooper on July 26, 2023 at 9:57 am

        Thank you for the thoughtful response! Excellent food for thought.

    • Jackie on July 26, 2023 at 5:04 am

      I am not an expert, but can only relate to my experience. On my first attempt at a novel, I handed off for feedback at The End. I passed the novel to my friends. Mistake. Most of them couldn’t offer feedback that would help make the novel better. Nothing could make it better The novel truly sucked. It was an awful first attempt. I placed these friends in a terrible predicament. Friends don’t want to tell you that your work sucks. I endured looks of pity for the wasted years and that this piece of crap was my idea of being a writer.
      But one friend stood out. Cindy put three kids through college and on the path to successful careers by editing their essays. I offered her my second novel, better but not quite right. Her feedback was honest and encouraging.
      Cindy loved the third novel, a middle-grade fiction. I actually had an agent look at a full. but the story wasn’t something she wanted to represent. I took the agent’s feedback and rewrote and went through another round of queries to no avail.
      The fourth novel, another middle-grade, under my pen is kicking my ass. I think I’m onto something here. Cindy is excited too. We are actually planning a collaboration of sorts, something outside both our comfort zones. Who knows? This might be the one.
      Kathryn look for someone who has the knowledge, honesty, and kindness to push you to do your best work. Listen to them. Learn from them. But also know they won’t always be right. For that, you have your gut. Wish you the best. Keep to the task.

      • Brian Nelson on July 26, 2023 at 9:43 am

        Great insight into the predicament you put your friends in. I’ve almost sent a few chapters to some friends, but after reading this I will not.

        Even though my work is non-fiction, the feedback will likely be ‘I like it…’ or ‘I don’t like it…’ without actionable advice. Plus, what do they know? It is not like all my besties have MFA’s in English Literature…

        • Jackie on July 26, 2023 at 2:09 pm

          Brian, keep going no matter what the bestie’s say.

      • Kathryn Cooper on July 26, 2023 at 9:58 am

        This is super helpful. Thank you for sharing these experiences with me!

    • Kathy on July 26, 2023 at 7:41 am

      Toils and Jackie, I love how you two stepped up to help Kathryn. So beautiful.

      • Kathryn Cooper on July 26, 2023 at 9:59 am


    • Steven Pressfield on July 26, 2023 at 9:20 am

      It can be a very “dodgy do,” as our Aussie friends say, to show our stuff to others.

      1. 99% of potential readers don’t possess the skills or experience to offer helpful feedback. There’s a very real danger that they’ll steer us wrong.

      2. The desire for feedback is (99% certainty) our own Resistance. We’re scared, we’re dealing with massive self-doubt, we’re hoping for reassurance from others. This is a bad bet. Even if we get extravagant praise, the sugar high wear off in about six minutes and we’re back to our original self-doubt. Better to hang tough, keep writing, turn off the self-censor and the Worry Machine.

      3. Seeking help can be a real imposition on the people we ask. To get legit professional editing/feedback from a real pro editor, the price tag is probably between $30K and $50K. That’s what we’re asking of someone else … and we’re asking it for free.

      4. Try to work through this period of self-doubt on your own, Kathryn. (Next week’s post addresses this directly.) Wait as long as possible and get the work in as good a shape as possible before asking for feedback … and then bear in mind how rare and how valuable such feedback can be … and be prepared to either pay for it in money or in some other commodity. If you get it free, it’s probably more harmful than helpful.

      Hope this helps!

      • Kathryn Cooper on July 26, 2023 at 10:03 am

        I truly appreciate this. You are right on. I think I knew it intuitively but I just don’t have the experience or confidence to interpret my process or motivations clearly. I’m so glad I asked the question. Thanks for the opportunity and your time.

      • Jackie on July 26, 2023 at 2:10 pm

        As always, thank you Steve.

      • Kathy on July 28, 2023 at 8:42 am

        Thank you Steven.

  9. Lee Bodkin on July 26, 2023 at 3:36 am

    Exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you Steven!

  10. Yvonne on July 26, 2023 at 3:37 am

    This is where I am with my current story… Resistance is huge, and I’m unsure of whether to continue. Wonderful timing for this post. Thanks, Steve!

  11. MW on July 26, 2023 at 4:55 am

    I LOVE ‘writing Wednesdays’! Pretty much the only recurring email-thing I read without fail. Thank you Steven.

  12. Gregory on July 26, 2023 at 5:00 am

    Seth Godin says “shun the nonbelievers”. Never thought about it as shun the nonbeliever in me.

    Keep ‘em coming, Steven!

  13. Gomez on July 26, 2023 at 5:05 am

    Thank you, Stephen. My daughter begins vet school today. This is going right to her email box.

  14. Mia Sherwood Landau on July 26, 2023 at 5:07 am

    Oh wow, I second what Gregory said, “shun the non-believer in me.” That should be taped to our laptops and tablets!

  15. jodypaynesays on July 26, 2023 at 5:09 am

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  16. Kate Stanton on July 26, 2023 at 5:12 am

    “Our job is to trust her.”
    I never thought of it this way!? Lord knows I have trust issues. This is further proof that creating art is soul work. If I want to get past the next hurdle, I must trust something or someone else. I am meditating on this for the week—“just trust”…

  17. Micke on July 26, 2023 at 5:13 am

    The Muse looks like Celine Dion

  18. Joe Badalamente on July 26, 2023 at 5:35 am

    Thank you for this. Today marks two years to the day from when I attended a barbecue where I was introduced to another guy named Joe who was wearing a “TCB” charm on a gold necklace, complete with the lightning bolt. Elvis fans know this symbol well; TCB stands for “Taking Care of Business” a phrase E and his Memphis Mafia used often. I pointed to Joe’s charm and said “Elvis fan, huh?” You have to recall this was almost a full year prior to the “Elvis” hitting theaters, with the TCB symbol appearing prominently on the poster. Joe looked down and then at me, the surprise clear on his face. “I’ve been wearing this for 30 years;” he said. “You’re the first person to ever know what it is!” Being a devoted Pressfieldian for well over a decade at that point, I knew this was the muse screaming down to me to sit and write ‘The King & Me: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy’ a story I’d had banging around in my head for over two decades. On August 13th 2021, my deceased parents’ wedding anniversary, I began to write. Six weeks later I’d finished a very rough draft which I showed to a few friends. Their reactions were enough encouragement for me to continue to rewrite for the next ten months, finally self-publishing the novella last summer to try and ride some of the Elvis film’s publicity wave. The book has won two awards thus far, and led directly to a gig writing a recurring column. But as great as that all is, nothing compares with the feeling of having completed it in the first place. My advice is to read everything Mr. P has written on writing, and listen closely to the muse so her throat doesn’t become raw from screaming at you!

  19. C.M. O'Slatara on July 26, 2023 at 5:57 am

    Thank you for this today.

  20. Steve on July 26, 2023 at 6:45 am

    Exactly a week ago I was in recording studio for the first time. I got my ass handed to me. The jewel in the rough is the things I learned form this failure. Back on the horse TODAY.

  21. Kathy on July 26, 2023 at 7:29 am

    Last week I mentioned that there is this art contest with, “Beautiful Bizarre”, magazine and that it’s mostly people I admire who enter it, no way seeing myself in their caliber, I would never try, but here I am now. I entered one of my sculptures. As a description of the piece I attached part of a poem I wrote. (I write a lot of poetry.

    So now, she’s out there, being judged.

    Ohhh. I feel like I’ve somehow betrayed my own sense of knowing my place. My sculpture is like a child now, on her own, alone. I didn’t protect her, or me. A poem? Really? How stupid. That’s not what they are looking for. And my bio! Not enough. Ohh.. why did I do that?

    A couple years ago now, I took my neighbor out for her birthday. As I took a bite into my Beyond Burger, she said, “I think your art is really scary, specifically your sculptures.” Huh? Well, it was her birthday. As stunned as I was, because who asked her? I just ate my food. I didn’t confront her on that till a year later. even though she kept referencing my work in that way. I finally told her I thought that was rude. She seemed surprised. Huh? But she said it was because it expressed emotions that she felt fearful about. Still, I feel protective. I was expressing a deep part of me. Taking a risk to even make it at all. It’s hard to get into that mindset, the one where you step away from the world and into your own self.

    I can feel confident as long as I’m hiding. Resistance says, “Who do you think you are? No one.”

    So, anyway, I entered one of my “scary sculptures” into a contest that is scary. Good grief, the torture of it all.

    • Jackie on July 26, 2023 at 11:18 am

      You rock! You took the step.
      If you can bear another story from experience… Our church was scheduled for a major remodel. My dad, having construction experience, acted as project coordinator representing the church’s interest and handled communication with the architecture firm. The architect asked Dad if he knew of a local artist for hire. Dad volunteered me. You should’ve seen the resistance fit I threw. I was not qualified and told the architect as much. The job was way out of my league. He hired me anyway.
      Best f*!#$@* job ever! The job gave me courage and confidence I never would’ve gained had I not been pushed. Thanks, Dad. You knew more than me on this one.
      The architect was incredible. He taught me valuable skills I would never have learned if I had refused to show up. He had faith in me. I climbed scaffolding. I learned to apply gold leaf. I was asked for ideas. A couple ideas were considered and incorporated in the design. In short, what I didn’t know, I learned. I didn’t give myself enough credit for what I did know. The most valuable lesson I learned was the true meaning of failure. Failure is to not try at all.
      The end project was beautiful and I played a part in it.
      Never be afraid to play your part in this life no matter how scary. Best to you, Kathy

      • Kathy on July 26, 2023 at 11:53 am

        What a great story, Jackie. Thank you, for being so encouraging and sharing your angst that developed into a wonderful experience. Working on scaffolding must have felt like a triumph in itself! You did it! Yay!

        • Jacie on July 26, 2023 at 1:48 pm

          You are welcome. And yes, working off of scaffolding freaked me out. But I did it. Now my motto is, no one ever died from embarrassment. Give it a go,but be sure of your footing. Lol.

  22. Bob DeMers on July 26, 2023 at 7:33 am

    So true, and thanks for the reminder. I’ve got an amazing book I’m writing, and a shit-ton of resistance as part of my process. Nothing great comes without a serious amount of grist for the mill.

  23. John on July 26, 2023 at 8:04 am

    Like a coach in my corner, thank you, Steven. Writing today. Now. Resistance in another room.

  24. Jim B on July 26, 2023 at 10:19 am

    This is gold Steven. Resistance and self doubt are coming up in the pursuit of a new role as I hone my craft. Putting it in another room as well!!

  25. Peter Brockwell on July 26, 2023 at 11:10 am

    The Muse knows!!! I love it. Yes, trust the Muse; trust yourself.

    And regarding soliciting critique from kith and kin. I’ve tried and what a failure it was. Let’s not farm out our self-worth to other people who might have our best interests at heart, but can’t really help us much.

    Thank you Steve! I know you’ve said some of this before in other forms. But I for one can keep hearing it, and NEED to keep hearing. it.

    Many thanks, and much love to everybody on the blog.

  26. Charles Rosasco on July 27, 2023 at 6:28 am

    We need you Steve. Thank you for being the mystic you are. Much love. Charles Rosasco

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