A new kind of Resistance (for me)

First, thanks to everybody who has jumped on board to order THE DAILY PRESSFIELD.

You should see our garage and back room. Diana (who is the brains of the outfit) has been feverishly packing Gift Boxes for days. The first UPS pickup is today. I think everyone is going to be pretty happy when they get these packages. They are truly “Publishing above and beyond.”

Meanwhile, I’m down with the flu so forgive me if this post is a quickie.

It’s about a new and quite diabolical expression of Resistance that I’ve never experienced before but that I want to pass along in case anyone else experiences it.

It’s like the flu. It might be going around.

I’m lying in bed (something one should never do), “thinking.” Suddenly, my mind starts going on grievances. Personal issues I have with a specific person. You can imagine where this is going. Within ten minutes, I have built myself up to such a fever that I’m on the brink of phoning this person, who is very close to me, and telling them off in such a furious manner that they’ll never speak to me again.

Instantly, it occurs to me that I am at the very end of a really difficult draft of a new fiction book.

What a minute!

This is freakin’ Resistance!

My fear of finishing that draft (and I’m also worried about THE DAILY PRESSFIELD coming off well) has morphed into this Grievance Monster that, if I had acted on it, would have torpedoed a lot of good stuff.

I immediately flashed back to various fights I’ve had over the years with people close to me.

OMG, have some of them been triggered by this kind of fear/self-sabotage/BS?

Arrrrrggggh!

I pass this on for what it’s worth as Thanksgiving approaches. Resistance is diabolical. It can fool us completely. Let’s all be grateful … and for sure keep an eye out for any runaway Grievance Dialogues.

Happy Thanksgiving … and thanks again to everyone who pre-ordered THE DAILY PRESSFIELD.

Signed copies and Gift Boxes are still available here.

DO THE WORK

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.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

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.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

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.

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TURNING PRO

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?"

Turning-Pro

37 Comments

  1. Tolis on November 22, 2023 at 1:47 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve.

    I know that Monster, it has also tormented my head many times in the past. Some times it was hard and long as Hell.

    I had to win it the hard way: a close person to me was a so difficult person, that I finally became like the Balrog as it arises from the fires in the Lord of the Rings’ 1st movie. My luck (actually not luck, my knowledge led to that) was that combating such a difficult personality every day for years, made me strong enough against Monster thinking, exactly as it would happen to a warrior who has a thousand scars from the past battles — every new scar is now just a scar for him, nothing to think about except than doing what is necessary about it, while in the beginning the scars would really steal a long time from the warrior to fear their possible outcomes: fears like he wouldn’t be able to walk again or use the sword again, which are all false –and even the ones that were right, they actually became his legend.

    My advice: yes, bring forth the fires against that person. But NOT on them –only use them to let go from inside you the wrath of thoughts and emotions. Unleash fire on them without actually doing it, do it on paper if you can. Write not only the wrath but the sadness and the fears which you may find that are what are hidden behind the anger. Cry, get angry, feel the fear, and when all tears have gone, let yourself be weak that evening. The emotions, if left to unravel, weaken the body for an evening but then bring a new dawn, a greater and fuller strength the next day, and the clouds are gone. This is part of my long experience.

    Carpe diem.

    • Tolis on November 22, 2023 at 1:50 am

      P.s. Ah! I couldn’t order from the site because I’m in this far away land of the sun. So I wait patiently until the Amazon.it has the book, which is right next to my doorstep <3

  2. R on November 22, 2023 at 2:22 am

    Yes THIS! There is actually a name for it: maladaptive daydreaming, where you ruminate on conversations. I think this form of Resistance is the shadow activity of writing fiction. Instead of creating dialogue for characters, our creative potential is being wasted on inventing dialogue for conversations.

    It can be excused by the anxiety of wanting to be prepared for a future social interaction, like wanting to prepare for a job interview. However I have found that it never actually helps my social skills in practice. But I also try to be forgiving of myself for slipping into these imaginary conversations sometimes because there is usually a strong emotional reason why they happen. It could be anger as in Steve’s example, but sometimes positive emotions can cause it, such as the excitement of meeting a new person, having a great first conversation with them and wanting that conversation to continue.

    • R on November 22, 2023 at 2:27 am

      My own experience of Resistance lately has come from watching the news too much, and the resulting emotions of fear and frustration, which makes creative projects feel trivial.
      Mr. Pressfield, if you’re reading this, I would love to hear your thoughts on that in a future article.

      (And I’m not asking you to subject yourself to angry comments by giving an opinion on the current situation, but simply to address how to deal with the Resistance that comes from having strong emotions about the news or just emotional distraction in general).
      Wishing you a speedy recovery!

      • B kaplan on November 22, 2023 at 5:08 am

        I was blown away by this post arguing that sometimes deep anger and imaginary conversations are really a profound form of resistance!!!

        I experience this resistance daily. Thank you for the clarity in the idea.

        • R on November 22, 2023 at 7:21 am

          Thanks B Kaplan. It sure is a daily struggle isn’t it? I especially hate how it damages our view of our own character, ex: “I guess I must be very petty to be trying to craft the perfect response to something said 5 years ago.” It really erodes your self-esteem if you keep thinking about angry grievances. Best of luck to you and everyone else dealing with this nasty form of Resistance.

  3. Fred Fleisher on November 22, 2023 at 2:22 am

    Thank you! Here’s to the flu exiting quickly and to your health!
    This message seems to have aligned with my own grievance battles. Appreciated reading it.
    Happy Thanksgiving and looking forward to The Daily Pressfield!

  4. edgar van asselt on November 22, 2023 at 2:39 am

    Hear, hear steve!

    I’m just working on some new material which is actually coming out great I’m real exited about it and then also a voice pops up that starts rambling about old scores to be settled, and about people who’ve done me wroooooongggg in the past.

    And yes, so good to realize it’s all BS, it’s only thoughts floating by trying to grab your attention..nothing real, unless you believe it…

    It’s the joy the work is giving us, that’s really the benefit of it. It’s funny that resistance always focuses on the periphery of the work, never on the work itself..

    ‘nough rambling done, back to work

    edgar

  5. Gregory on November 22, 2023 at 2:52 am

    My grievances are often with the characters who’ve driven/motivated the book/project I’m working on. The key is definitely to get out of bed now and write rather that waiting for a grievance to suddenly flare up when I’m ready to write.

    Be well, Steven

  6. York on November 22, 2023 at 3:14 am

    Steve,

    I’ve definitely felt some form of Resistance that is similar. It never occurred to me that it could be Resistance. In most circumstances when I’m angry with someone, my feeling and intentions are somewhat justified but my execution of the anger has always been problematic. I immediately regret anything I do or say afterward. It’s bad.

    The other form or Resistance I have right now is a deep-seated fear of getting my work done. This is manifesting as all sorts of ideas for other projects that I can do, which, are quaint and good in and of themselves; however, ultimately they aren’t my work.

  7. susanna plotnick on November 22, 2023 at 3:34 am

    It’s uncanny how this is exactly what I have been dealing with lately, and I realized yesterday that it is an addiction that has prevented me from getting deeply into my work. If the anger/obsession with one person is resolved, it will fixate on another person. And I think that R is right, that it is a shadow activity that prevents engagement with our fictional characters.

    Why so many of us are dealing with this form of Resistance right now is another interesting question. But I am glad to get the reinforcement that you and others are recognizing and dealing with this new dragon.

    • R on November 22, 2023 at 7:15 am

      Thanks Susanna,
      You’re right! It’s nice to know that we’re all slaying the dragon together! I like what you said about framing this habit of having imaginary conversations as an addiction. I might reread the section on Turning Pro about addicts with that in mind.

      • susanna plotnick on November 22, 2023 at 9:06 am

        Thanks, R,

        Actually I had just re-read the section on addiction in Turning Pro when I realized what it was!

        • Cathy obrien on November 23, 2023 at 8:48 am

          This post came at the perfect time. I have been stuck in my head focused on other people , I know better but could not stop. The aha moment happened the minute I read your post , thank you.

  8. Jackie on November 22, 2023 at 4:32 am

    Thanks for the heads up, especially before the holiday season. Wishing you good health and a Happy Thanksgiving. Clearing space on the desk for the book.

  9. Wanda Bowring on November 22, 2023 at 5:47 am

    In other words, each time there’s something “good” on the horizon mark the calendar because biologically, neurologically, the organism you’re inhabiting matches the chemical and energetic frequency to the exact degree of “goodness”, balancing it out with “bad”. It isn’t self-sabotage the way we think. It’s frequency matching as in, “as above so below.” My last piece of BS was me buying a car that I paid thousands for but never got. Therefore a lovely fraud case to match a new product launch. Awareness penetrating my consciousness, so far, hasn’t proven helpful. In my future? There’s always (useless) hope. BTW if you try to forestall the resistance, everything in your life will stall. I know this, but this particular piece of intel doesn’t seem to change my behaviour.

  10. Joe Jansen on November 22, 2023 at 6:00 am

    Feel better, man. Look forward to seeing how the book comes packaged. You and Diana are a gift.

  11. Rick Mullen on November 22, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Got my book! I live in Malibu – so it did not have far to go…looking forward to reading it. Nice packaging and production! Loved the War of Art!

  12. Brian Nelson on November 22, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Doing some DIY work at the house. At least one light year away from any degree of competence, expertise, or experience–I’m out on a limb–and I’ve been behaving/feeling awful. Resentments/grievances from decades past are sneaking into my consciousness.

    My ‘incompetence’ is on display, and I hate it. Fixed vs growth mindset response. A gracious response (to myself and anyone in my life) would be to think of it as a great learning experience.

    I’m not gracious by nature, GenX cynicism is more my natural state of being.

    It is helpful to recognize that most of this angst comes from within, and that I can move past it. It is my nervousness with screwing up the drywall that is birthing these feelings–and once recognized, they almost vaporize immediately. Weird.

    I am so thankful that I have this place where I’m reminded that I’m not so unique. The self sabotaging inclinations and behaviors are universal.

    365 of Pressfield is good medicine. I don’t need to wait until Wednesday…

    Maybe a new blog site so we can meet virtually more often using the 365 passage as a stepping off point?

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Diana, and the rest of the Tribe.
    bsn

  13. Sll on November 22, 2023 at 10:29 am

    Oh sh*t.

  14. Sam Luna on November 22, 2023 at 10:43 am

    Happy Thanksgiving, Coach & WW folks. Look forward to the Daily Pressed dropping on my stoop. I like to channel my grievances with the world into my writing, killing off characters in new and interesting ways. “Riding the pine mare” from A Man at Arms still sticks with me. Feel better.

  15. Yvonne on November 22, 2023 at 11:45 am

    This is fantastic. I never paid attention to this kind of Resistance presenting itself with regard to writing, but I’ve *definitely* noticed it when undertaking certain other things… it’s like clockwork, and I’ve come to anticipate it in those other undertakings. I’ll have to be on the lookout with this with writing. Very insightful and helpful to learn!

    I got my signed copy of “The Daily Pressfield”, and the packaging is awesome! So much love put into it with all the goodies (which I didn’t expect, so it was a lovely surprise!), even down to the shipping box. You really go above and beyond with doing the publishing yourself and outdo “The Big Five” (you blow them away). The book is beautifully done in every way, right down to the ribbon marker. We already know the content will be awesome, but thank you for putting so much heart, love, and thought into all of this and making such a beautiful inspiration for us. (I love the introduction, where you tell the reader that we don’t have to wait until January 1 to start… that Day One is today, because I know *I* for one would use excuse to wait until January 1 to begin!)

  16. El's on November 22, 2023 at 12:56 pm

    Dear Steven,
    First,how do you feel now ?
    Second, OMG Something like this happened to me today. I was working (my day job, not my writing) and I started, without even realizing it, to fight with someone (with whom I have problems) but I was building new ones. New stories even worse than the one I already have with this person.
    I finally stopped, looked at myself and said, What’s wrong with you? and that was it she was there… Telling me how frustrated I was with my own fear… Starting my new project
    Hight thank you for sharing this moment with us… Feel better and kick a..
    Bless you
    PS : I’m in Paris so I cannot order the box… I hope it will be possible soon

  17. Maureen Anderson on November 22, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    Have you heard this one? “If you aren’t playing a big enough game, you’ll mess up the game you’re playing just to give yourself something to do.”

    Suddenly I wonder if empty nesters don’t sometimes turn on each other and start bickering just for a hit of the drama they apparently relished (but didn’t realize they did) when the teenagers were around 🙂

    I don’t have a copy of The War of Art handy so I can check, but it seems like there’s a line in it about this kind of Resistance (interpersonal dramas): “Nobody gets a damned thing done.”

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I’m thankful for you.

    Maureen

    P.S. Brian — just finished a steaming hot shower with a blast of icy cold water (I’m up to 18 seconds now), and what a life upgrade it’s been. I’d be so sapped after the heat I’d need a nap. Not anymore!

    • Brian Nelson on November 22, 2023 at 4:07 pm

      Maureen!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!! More of this please!!

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the same benefit I feel when cold plunging. It is finally cold enough here that my 100 gallon tank is around 38-42° each morning.

      Happy Thanksgiving!!
      bsn

  18. Melissa AC Sheperd on November 23, 2023 at 7:36 am

    Dear Mr. Pressfield,

    Thank you for your weekly updates and reminders to shove that Resistance aside and keep working. You, like many creators who present Resistance in different ways, inspire us. For example, the archive of the late, very great Jimmy Buffet is the Tao of metaphors, helping us work through life. Breathe in, breathe out, move on. The harmful can’t always be avoided. The walls that won’t come down, we can decorate and climb. Persevere and work the obstacles. Some things you try to explain. People who haven’t experienced your kind of work, can’t understand that this is work.

    Twenty years ago, when my third child was only a few weeks old, we were days away from leaving for our family’s tenth military assignment in thirteen years, our third in Africa. My oldest brother had Buffet playing on the TV. And for the first time, I connected with songs that had been for my entire life, a simple staple sing-along. I was thirty-five and was just then beginning to ‘get it’. Money and especially suitcase space were tight, but I bought several Buffet CDs, including what would turn out to be the most crucial — Take the Weather with You. Over the next few years, these songs got me through some very dark and difficult times, where I struggled against giving in, believing that, no, it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.

    Being sidelined with illness or injury dredges up pain that circles in our memories, pain that we should just let lay. It’s not that hard to wind up knee deep in the past. Sometimes emotions bubble up and fart out. It just happens. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Being sidelined is an opportunity to reflect and recover. It’s also a time where past conflicts with other people, usually those most important people in our lives, transition from it’s nobody’s fault to it could be my fault, and understanding that sometimes, it’s my own damn fault.

    Everyone has some active part in every conflict with those who are important to us. The question is always, what next? More conflict? Status quo? Or resolution? Who’s gonna initiate the mea culpa and admit that even though we made a big mistakea, we promise not to shoot each other out of the sky. It’s not always easy but there are times when we really should try to be way too nice. But then, sometimes you just have another shitty day in paradise.

    So, go ahead and have you a boat drink or two and sit down there your typing machine and be confident that you will come up with some more words that will last.

    This Thanksgiving morning, in addition to all the people and things that have blessed my life, I am thankful that I found The War of Art and the words and support of creators like you, who came into my life and ones who yet to come. And I’m sure we all give thanks for Jimmy Buffet as he enjoys his cold beer and Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

    Thank you, Stephen Pressfield for your generosity and encouragement. Best wishes for a strong recovery.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

    Melissa AC Sheperd

    (Song Quotes: Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On. Coast of Carolina. Come Monday. Trip Around the Sun. Margaritaville. Fruitcakes. Jamaica Mistaka. Coastal Confessions. Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

  19. Erin on November 23, 2023 at 8:43 am

    I find it interesting that this is the first time you have recognized this form of resistance because it was your definition of resistance that has already helped me to notice and stop this habit. I have a tendency to slip into this and about a year ago I realized how very much it was keeping me from my work. Without the knowledge I had already gotten from you, I don’t know that I would have seen this as resistance, but instead I was able to call it by name and put it aside.
    So thank you.

  20. Anita on November 23, 2023 at 11:03 am

    Grievance Monster haha! I so appreciated the synchronicity of finding your email as I was into my third day of waking with a fight going on in my head with yet another person in my life! I succumbed to it on day one writing furiously notes on what I needed to say to this person then onto the second draft then I realised this had taken me 2 hours of precious time that I need to complete works to meet my deadline for my art show next week!! Madness!! I love that you shared this Steven Pressfield. Because a day later I’ve had the same morning experience and nipped it in the bud. So enough writing here and time to get into my work. Bless you.

  21. Anita on November 23, 2023 at 11:05 am

    PS hope you are feeling better real soon!

  22. Tony White on November 27, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    And it applies to political/social/philosophical grievances as well. A lot easier to stew over the state of the world than sit at your desk and craft words that would address the problem.

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  28. miriam clifford on January 31, 2024 at 6:33 am

    Today I was trying to grapple an external problem; I wanted to force it into submission so I could move on quickly and get back to my routine. I was annoyed that the problem was affecting my writing and making me feel anxious to the point of feeling nauseous. The problem came out of nowhere at a time when things were going well in my book, and I had solidified good habits. I began to remember the other times external forces threw me off. It shook me. So I asked for help.

    A voice of guidance told me to be still and let it pass. Sometimes I feel I need to do something to solve the problem. But I let it go. I have written about stillness before, and knew its power,but it never occurred to me in the situation I faced to just be still.

    Suddenly,I felt a calm pass over me -the annoying stomach butterflies kept going, but I knew that this too would pass. I would be able to continue writing, and the problem would disappear in due time. Afterall, there was nothing I could do. I no longer felt a need to force my writing; I just wanted to write. This moment of clarity gave me the answer – sometimes we need do nothing -just let go – and let the universe wash it like the rain. Big lesson.

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