Resistance is Infallible

I wrote in a post a few weeks ago that

Resistance knows more than we do.

What I meant by that was that our Inner Self-saboteur, by some mysterious alchemy or algorithm, can tell when we are onto something good. It can even tell how good it is.

Resistance responds accordingly.

The better the piece we’re working on (and by “better,” I mean “more important to the evolution of our soul and to our progression as an artist”), the more Resistance we will feel to advancing it and to completing it.

Resistance is a Force of Nature

In other words,

Good Idea = Big Resistance.

Great idea = Humongous Resistance.

Let me add a further corollary.

Our progression as artists or entrepreneurs never happens in a smooth upward line. Instead, we get better in stair-step fashion, i.e. plateau plateau plateau, then … breakthrough!


Pre-breakthrough moment = super-humongous Resistance.

Resistance is a mighty and diabolical enemy, but it has a weakness. Its weakness is that it’s a force of nature and thus operates by fixed and immutable laws. Resistance is predictable.

The more Resistance we feel to a project or idea, the more certain we can be that that idea is critical to the evolution of our soul.

And the more certain we can be that that idea is GOOD.

So, brothers and sisters, when we feel ourselves becoming irritable and impatient for no reason, when we can’t sleep and we’ve lost our appetite (or our appetite has mysteriously doubled), when we can’t stand to face the typewriter or the dance studio or the editing suite, when the lamest distractions pull us irresistibly off-course, when we hate ourselves and everything around us … take heart. It’s Resistance! And its message is:

That idea you’re working on, honey?

It’s a winner. Suck it up and go for it!

Resistance is infallible.


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. Nikhil Kashyap on September 6, 2023 at 2:10 am

    I am writing my first novel and whenever I sit down to write, it is always the same odious music in the ear: “Who’s going to read?” “It’s futile; no publisher will accept,” or a loud ringing, “Quit this, God dammit, you are tormenting yourself. Better read some stock reports.” And it goes away the minute we are putting the day’s work in, and if succumbed to its voice the next day the probability is greater for abandoning. It’s like the idler, the seductor of irrational phobias: “The idler cries out, ‘There is a lion outside; I will be killed if I go out on the street.'”

  2. Peter Ván on September 6, 2023 at 2:33 am

    Dear Steven,

    Do you know the novel of Strugatski brothers about Resistance ( ? According to them, it is a particular consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

  3. Tolis on September 6, 2023 at 2:43 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve,

    Your post reminds us of one of the most important wisdoms to know and remember and master. The fact that there is HELL between here and our complete creation. And I mean Hell for all who consider their creation “larger than life”.

    I remember mr. Rohn saying, “set the kind of goals that will make something of you to achieve them”. This may connect to Resistance’s idea: it is pushing us to make something of us in the process. ACTUALLY I think that if it doesn’t, then maybe our next work of art is of lower value. Let it shake, let it hurt, let it burn your house!

    I notice it every day. My creation as you know is beyond reach. I only approach it as a naive madman, like the stupid kid who thinks he can paint God’s face. He really thinks! And that’s where madness comes in. And of course it is so hard. Resistance even sent me to that island in order to “stop” me. But I’m back again and I even found new ways to force the creation of the book, if they work.

    I had some tough years. But I was mentally prepared, now even bodily prepared. The forces that hit me these years subconsciously actually really wanted to destroy me. And they would if I wasn’t evolved to the degree I could, they would for sure. But Voila! After that “training” I am harsher instead of dead. I feel more unbeatable, that is, really feel like that. I feel more unstoppable not in the short run but in the long run. I also feel like a fool of course always, but that may actually be a good sign.

    I wish you happy birthday from here too, I must read the last post too. Many hugs to all friends here, go where the tough and meaningful are!

  4. Elaine on September 6, 2023 at 3:11 am

    Love it! So very true.
    Treat resistance like a bully.
    Stare it down and keep going.

  5. Charlie Ernst on September 6, 2023 at 3:22 am

    Hi Steve, such a timely post. That is exactly what I have been feeling as I set out to work on an album of original music. Just what I needed to hear at the right time

    Thanks ,

  6. Rachele on September 6, 2023 at 3:25 am

    So true!! I felt this the most right before I left my corporate job to start my own business. I didn’t know it was “resistance” at the time, but looking back, that’s exactly what it was, and how you describe it getting bigger and bigger… so true! I felt the irritability, difficulty sleeping, etc! But it was ultimately one of the best decisions of my life, and so good for my soul!!

  7. Eric Biehl on September 6, 2023 at 3:53 am


  8. Chad Allen on September 6, 2023 at 4:01 am

    Steven, this is really encouraging because I’ve definitely been facing some intense Resistance lately. I’ll keep at it! Thank you.

    Take care,

  9. Andy Kjellgren on September 6, 2023 at 6:16 am

    Was close to buckling.
    Much gratitude for your perspective and this gift.
    Have found the energy to build another day. I do believe!

  10. Jackie on September 6, 2023 at 7:03 am

    Amen, Steve. I went downstairs for second breakfast. Resistance. I cleaned my #$@^&*! office. RESISTANCE! I’m turning my back to the computer and am moving to the writing desk. I won’t be back later today. No offence anyone. I have important work to do. Thanks for holding us accountable. Wish you all a productive week.

  11. Loren Chadima on September 6, 2023 at 7:40 am

    Steven –
    I LOVE YOU! YES you’re right. I”m right there. Resistance is holding me hostage lately with my book – fear of rejection and fear of success. Even though I have a great mentor – your friend Jeff Goins. So thank you so much for this message. BTW I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I use your books for required reading in my acting classes. Keep writing your wonderful stuff and I”ll get mine out there too!

  12. Marvin Ginsberg on September 6, 2023 at 7:45 am

    You nailed it again!
    But how do we break through the resistance and go for it?
    This has been my life long dilemma starting with a script in 1981

    • Ella on September 6, 2023 at 7:53 pm

      I can relate. I started by taking one small, then another and in time the habit prevails.

  13. Joe Jansen on September 6, 2023 at 7:49 am

    The thought that comes up for me this morning is on the first of Buddhism’s four noble truths: that life is suffering. Not to be all morbid and depressive about it, but recognizing the truth of it: things are hard, then they get better. Things are going good, and then — ope! — your car needs new tires.

    The other truths go down a path of recognizing the causes and what to do about them, but I want to use just the first one this morning. If I were to apply that first truth to our topic of Resistance, I’d say: “Of COURSE, Resistance. You want to see from a mountaintop, the climb up is hard. Shit, I could sit in the valley and drink coffee and be satisfied with a valley view.” Or push against the big R, hard as it may be, and see things from above the clouds.

    • Elaine on September 6, 2023 at 4:49 pm

      Great analogy

  14. Nancy on September 6, 2023 at 8:01 am

    Resistance shows up in almost every area of our lives. At present I’m a full-time graduate student, required to write a 10-20 formal paper with citations every week. Many papers have run 25 pages or more. It’s great (yeah, right) discipline. It is teaching me to face down resistance in every form, from research to writing to revision. Thank you.

    • SSO on April 24, 2024 at 1:22 pm

      Really Good Job, keep it up

  15. Mordechai Schiller on September 6, 2023 at 8:08 am

    The other side of the same coin: There is a Chassidic tradition from both Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rabbi Lev Yitzhcak of Berditchev that if an effort goes to easily, it’s a sign that Satan is involved. If something is truly worthwhile, Satan tries to prevent it.
    All the best.

    • Steven Pressfield on September 6, 2023 at 10:36 am

      The rabbis know what they’re talking about!

      • Joe on September 6, 2023 at 1:12 pm


        • Nom de Plume on September 6, 2023 at 3:07 pm

          Love that!

          Regarding when we feel ourselves becoming irritable and impatient for no reason, when we can’t sleep and we’ve lost our appetite (or our appetite has mysteriously doubled), when we can’t stand to face the typewriter or the dance studio or the editing suite, when the lamest distractions pull us irresistibly off-course, when we hate ourselves and everything around us…

          I have long thought that when we are in that condition, irritated, irritable, uncomfortable in out own skin, that is is a sign we are ready to progress. Like a snake or a crab about to shed its skin: its skin is dead, tight, constricting. It itches and chafes. They will rub against a tree or rock to wear it off. Are we so different? JP famously ties our biology to lobsters who also molt — so why not? Of course we are uncomfortable, dissatisfied, with our present circumstances, whatever they might be, when we have literally or figuratively outgrown them. Our body (or mind, or soul, or…) is ready to level up. We merely have to accept it.


          • Nom de Plume on September 6, 2023 at 3:14 pm

            I’ll add to that: like the guy you see at the office coffee pot; every morning for six years he has complained about the crappy job. OK, yeah, it sucks, but what are you going to about it? Bill recognized that it sucked and he quit and got a better job; Alice figured out what the bosses want and worked hard enough to get promoted. Your irritation shows you recognize that it sucks… so now what? It’s up to you!

    • Elaine on September 6, 2023 at 4:50 pm

      So very true!

  16. YL Ingram on September 6, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Yes and thank you 😊

  17. kara on September 6, 2023 at 10:34 am

    Just what I need to hear, RIGHT NOW. I’m grateful

    Thank you.

  18. Diane K Young on September 6, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    I’m working my way through THE WAR OF ART and taking notes. After the nothingness doldrums of Covid, I found a whole new, intimidating world of nonfiction markets. I’m a magazine feature writer and I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Some of my old markets no longer exist, which was a shock. The good thing is that during Covid I did manage to research and first-draft about 15 articles, only to discover that now there’s even a new, much shorter pitch format that will deep-six my pitches if I don’t follow it to a T. I feel like I’m looking up at a 10′ steel wall and, of course, I recognize it as evil Resistance. If I could get just one “Sure, we’ll be glad to take a look at it.”, I know I’ll be off to the races again. I want to finish your book, so I’ll be armored up to start sending pitches.

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  21. Adam Schwartz on September 7, 2023 at 10:13 am

    I’m about eighty percent finished writing my first full-length play and the Resistance is intense. Nights are the worst. When I wake up in a panic, I ask myself, “Could this be Resistance?” The answer is always “Yes.” Because Resistance is protean. It takes whatever disguise it needs to try to paralyze me. Once I become aware that the thought may be Resistance, it loosens its grip a little. I see it for what it is: a lie.

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  23. Kim Roberts on September 12, 2023 at 11:18 am

    Ok, I hear this. I love your work Steven, and respect what you write. But after 2 books, with very few readers, I still have not earned back my advance, and my publisher will not look at anything more from me. I am working on my 3rd book, willing to self-publish, but it’s expensive and I’m broke from pouring all my money into these creative projects that just fizzle when they go live. Is this resistance? Or is it a big sign that I should stop? I don’t get it. Eleven years I worked on my second book, and it’s a total flop. The first book earns me $3 a month if I’m lucky. All these people talking about writing your book to change the world, to earn big money, to share your gifts. I’ve done the work. I have something to say. And I can’t seem to find anyone who’s interested enough to pay me. My marketing efforts go nowhere, and I’m going broke trying to figure it out. I’m ranting, I know. Maybe this is a Resistance Rant. But I’m fed up and ready to burn down the house. Thanks for listening.

  24. Alberta on September 15, 2023 at 1:24 am

    Resistance is holding me hostage lately with my book – fear of rejection and fear of success.

  25. John on September 18, 2023 at 11:37 am

    Resistance is Infallible – Steven, you have come to know this creature Resistance so well … This weekly article is very helpful, straight goods. Thank you.

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