“Start the next one today”

We talked last week about my old friend and mentor Paul Rink’s advice to me when I told him I had just finished my first manuscript.

“Good for you,” he said without looking up. “Start the next one today.”

Let’s examine this wisdom a little more deeply.

When you and I finish a project and release it to the world … and then STOP, waiting breathlessly for the response, we are messing with the primal laws of the universe. 

1. We have planted ourselves dangerously in the ego.

The ego is selfish, fearful, shallow, competitive. The ego clings. It lives in what Vedantists would call Attachment, meaning “emotional attachment to the outcome of its endeavors.”

“You have the right to your labor, Arjuna,” declared Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, “but not to the fruits of your labor.”

2. Another principle of Vedanta:

“Labor without attachment is worship.”

What this means, as I understand it, is that when we let go of all attachment to the outcome of our novel publication/album release/opening of our Thai Fusion restaurant … we shift the locus of our enterprise from the ego to the Self (or the soul if you prefer.),

The Muse likes this. Heaven likes this. 

We are now operating on the plane of the soul, not the plane of the ego.

3. The point of a practice (by which I mean a daily ritual practice, as of yoga or meditation or martial arts) is to seek the spiritual by means of the physical.

We hold ourselves in Warrior Pose physically while seeking, through our psychic focus and intention, to reach out to the spiritual.

The making of art is a practice too. This is writing, this is music, this is filmmaking. This is any daily enterprise engaged in with full attention and full commitment.

In other words, Book #1 (or Album #1 or Movie #1) should be followed in seamless succession by Book #2 and so on. That’s what makes writing or music or filmmaking a practice. That’s what elevates it beyond the selfish, shallow, fearful, competitive Little Mind of the Ego.

“Good for you. Start the next one today.”

P.S. Thanks again to everyone who ordered The Daily Pressfield. We’re running out of our signed first printing (more to come in a few weeks) but there are still a few left in time for Christmas gifting.

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.

do the work book banner 1

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.

noboybookcover

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

33 Comments

  1. Philip Ebuluofor on December 6, 2023 at 1:45 am

    Fine advice. Good for you. Start next one. By so doing as I see is that you focus on that new manuscript instead of hoping that magic would turn A into B in monetary terms.

  2. John on December 6, 2023 at 2:19 am

    Steven,

    Thanks for keeping it real!

    Let go and let god.

    P.S. Enjoyed your talk with Rick R…

  3. Tolis on December 6, 2023 at 2:48 am

    Thank you very much dear Steve.

    My first thought is of one dear teacher who died recently, Ryszard Nieoczym from Canada, whose theatrical practices I had the chance to attend when he would come to Greece (he was always travelling). In the seminars what he wanted us to do was to *be* the Self, not even talk about the Self –he would avoid that. To also express not the energy of the rhimes from the theatrical speeches and heroes we had prepared, but to follow the rhythms of the body and let the body, which is the Self I can suppose –it is the bridge between existence and energy, it is the only truth in some way– do the work. Yet to achieve that he was teaching us in the dance room with all the body’s crazyness we could emanate, But with some very strict disciplines: the hours of unstopable work and some rules.

    A few days ago I arranged to meet with other people who lived the experience of Ryszard with me. And I remembered this thought: that Self, although true nature, can’t be kept alive by itSelf -it needs a strangely opposite to it trait (for it is forced and not natural in many great endeavours) which is Discipline. So Self and Discipline may be inseperably connected. So maybe the day that we cling to an emotional expectancy i.e. the success of a finished work of art, if we forget the discipline, the Body that is, then we may actually leave the Self.

    So there may be one Self. Or only one source of the contact with the Self: The body in the appropriate motion. Can something substitute that?

    Carpe Corpus <3

    P.s. I also want to share with you a scientific work that has to do with the dynamics we people make decisions by. I consider it to be important to anyone of us who wants to find out something about the way we decide –and decide we do, for every moment of all our lives (like Yoda would say). It is the "Thinking, fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman. He researched the two speeds of the mind: the intuitive (fast) and the orthological (slow, logical) and brought an important aspect on their strange dynamics on our decisions process and how we can benefit.

  4. Eric Biehl on December 6, 2023 at 3:44 am

    Thank you

  5. Fred Mike on December 6, 2023 at 4:08 am

    Such an empowering perspective on the creative process! Letting go of attachment to outcomes and diving into the next project as a form of devotion to the craft aligns so beautifully with the idea of artistic growth.
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  6. Brad Graft on December 6, 2023 at 6:27 am

    Sage advice. And easier said than done– how difficult it is to ignore what Steve has called “third party validation.”

    Maybe a parallel in the Marine Corps. Folks have asked me what is the key leadership trait held by all solid officers. Without hesitation, I say, “unselfishness.” As soon as a leader sets aside his/her desire for promotion, praise, awards and the like– and concentrates only on taking care of Marines and improving the unit– the magic starts.

    Once Marines sense their leader sincerely cares only about their welfare and unit effectiveness– loyalty, mutual respect gels. Marines then become willing to run through brick walls for their boss; the unit flourishes… Again, easier said then done.

    The same holds for our art. As Steve wrote, when we work ego-free: “the Muse likes this. Heaven likes this. We are now operating on the plane of the soul, not the plane of the ego.”

    • Janine Williams on December 6, 2023 at 11:03 am

      I like this about the marines, and not looking at promotion, just caring about your men.

    • Joe on December 6, 2023 at 1:10 pm

      I concur with Dr. Graft’s assessment.

      Also, I like the image Steve is using up there.

  7. edgar van asselt on December 6, 2023 at 6:42 am

    It’s one of my favourite parts in the book Steve. and yet the most hard to apply. Cause it seems to me that everybody that puts a piece of himself on the table, has the natural tendency to look around at ask ‘how did I do’? And probably hope for extended praise and eternal gratitude. I do remember one quote from what Chick Corea told in one of his workshops ‘the pay of jazz is the fun playing’ , and I think he meant exactly what you are saying in your words.

    thanks, Steve

    • Adele on December 6, 2023 at 9:03 am

      Love this! I am stealing Chick Corea’s message and turning it into
      The pay of the garden is the fun gardening.

  8. Jackie on December 6, 2023 at 7:15 am

    Every job I threw my physical being to for food caused some form of grief. Everything I threw my heart at fed my soul. Wishing all a week from the heart.

  9. Mildred Wilson on December 6, 2023 at 7:49 am

    Thanks so much, Steven, for the wisdom and the works. Sorry I ended up ordering the book and workbook from Amazon as I’m in South America and there was not chance of having it on release. The book is still on the way, so I ordered the kindle version for now and I already have the workbook. I’m one battling with resistance in every way possible, my God! but I know I’ll get through thanks to the clarity you provide us on your books and the universe.

    Much love and gratitude,
    Mildred Wilson
    Xx

    Ps. I had all your ‘art’ books on kindle and audio but I just received them physically. Again, had to because the shipping was a bit much.

  10. Mary-Frank on December 6, 2023 at 7:51 am

    Dear Steve,
    Yesterday I passed out copies of my MS (two years in the making) to members of my book group, to be read as this month’s “book.” This morning I opened my email to see if anyone had begun reading and was offering praise! Instead you answered, most perfectly, with “Start the next one today.” I laughed out loud! Just what I needed to hear. Thank you, thank you, for plucking me from my Ego and depositing me back into my Practice, where I belong.
    No matter what the book group thinks, “The Muse likes this. Heaven likes this.”
    I have begun my next project!

  11. Rick Lewis on December 6, 2023 at 7:57 am

    Excellent timing for this to reach my inbox today Steven. I just published my weekly article yesterday, and my first action this morning when I woke up was to check my Substack notifications with the breathless hope of finding comments of any kind of acknowledgement or praise. But my first THOUGHT upon waking this morning was an idea for next week’s article. How empowering it would have been for my practice to make starting that article my first action. An exact case in point. ha ha. Off to write the next article!

  12. Sam Luna on December 6, 2023 at 8:42 am

    One of my projects randomly got a boost this week by the unknowable Amazon algorithm and I had to Google it: what does it mean? Some folks say it was a boon for their book, while others say it was poisonous; it put it in front of all the “wrong” readers. And so I spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating it … is this a good thing? A bad thing? I can’t “see” the results yet … will there be any?

    All the while my next work in progress is sitting there saying “Um, Sam? You need to figure out my Act 2.”

  13. Adele on December 6, 2023 at 8:59 am

    I sit with a lovely ” year in the garden” course ready to launch. Such a scary moment – only if I stay in it! Launch and walk gently into the next creation – yes.
    Thank you

  14. Melanie Ormand on December 6, 2023 at 9:41 am

    Synchronicity roars today as two great minds share on similar wave lengths this morn:

    Seth Godin writes today of Hope and Expectations, closing with “when we raise our hopes and lower our expectations, we establish a resilient way forward.”

  15. Mellie Smith on December 6, 2023 at 10:25 am

    I’m a writer and painter and I always have several projects in the works at once (because ideas come faster than I can write, and I’m too impatient to wait for paint to dry). So the release of a project is easier for me – I’m already focusing on the next. It’s like the difference between a hen with only one chick and a hen with several. I love them all, but there’s STUFF TO DO. 🙂

    However, my day job is editing, and your post has some different flavors for me because all of that work is collaborative, which requires “third party validation” and is strongly linked to monetary considerations. There’s not a lot of scope for MY ego, though, as good editing enhances someone else’s voice, not mine. But this is something for me to be sensitive to in regards to my clients. I’ll make a point of asking about their next project, and share your insights with them.

    Meanwhile, instead of beating myself up for keeping too many irons in the fire, I’ll embrace it as a bastion against my ego. I think my next painting with be an expression of that, and I’ll hang it right by my desk!

  16. Bane on December 6, 2023 at 11:43 am

    The ego asks “what’s in it for me?”

    The Self asks for a “clear cut fight.”

    What am I trying to do???

    “I shall fault no commander who lays his vessel alongside a ship of the enemy.”

  17. Tom Wood on December 6, 2023 at 11:57 am

    The timing on your blog was incredible. Did you write it for me? Of course you did!
    My first novel, 77° North, was released this last Maty and I have been struggling to get the pen going to write the sequel. What you describe in your post is exactly what is going on – that old ego getting i the way.
    Thank you Steven. You helped me write the first book, and now this will get my ass in the chair to honour my labour rather than the fruits of it!

  18. Maureen Anderson on December 6, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    “You’re always brilliant at what you really love to do because love is the banner of genius. But the irony is that you can’t do your best work until you stop caring about acclaim. And later when you finally get it, you’ll be surprised at how little it matters.” ~ Barbara Sher, It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now

    “Fame means nothing,” Steven once told us. “Attention and praise are nice but hollow. ‘Wimbledon,’ as Chris Evert once said, ‘lasts about an hour.’”

  19. Paullette MacDougal on December 6, 2023 at 1:43 pm

    “Attention and praise are nice but hollow.” This I must remember.

    Thanks, Steve, for today’s wisdom.

  20. Nom de Plume on December 6, 2023 at 1:45 pm

    Hey, can I request a little wisdom from the hive mind. I’ve been working on a creative project. I’ve had some success, and a lot of remaining challenges. But: does Resistance show up in the form of medical issues? Actual physical problems? I’ve gotten a couple random gut-punches lately that have been throwing me off my game. It was really a puzzle (and a downer) until I remembered the wiles of our old friend Mr. R. I’d sure like to know the mechanism of how that works!

    • Mellie Smith on December 7, 2023 at 11:15 am

      I believe it does. I’ve never started a project (or tried to start a difficult but necessary habit) when I didn’t get hurt in some way that was a roadblock to my intended action. I don’t know if it comes from within or without, but it happens every time. I suppose that’s part of the “difficulty” – but it builds resilience if you don’t let it stop you.

      • Nom de Plume on December 8, 2023 at 2:50 pm

        Thanks Mellie!

  21. Jan Pollet on December 8, 2023 at 11:53 pm

    It’s the story of discipline and I totally agree on the principle.
    However,how would a writer of mainly one book – eg Salinger – think about this?

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    I can see why; you did a good job of getting people interested in the subject. I really value your work.

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  25. Thomas on January 2, 2024 at 4:04 am

    Hey there! Your mention of Paul Rink’s advice really stuck with me. It got me thinking about how advice from mentors like Paul can be a guiding light in our creative pursuits. Speaking of guidance, have you considered exploring online courses to further refine your manuscript or delve into aspects of writing that could elevate your work? online courses help provide a structured and supportive environment for honing your skills. Let me know if you’re interested, and I can share some excellent resources I’ve come across. Looking forward to hearing more about your writing journey

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    How fortunate I was to find this post to be quite beneficial! Many thanks for it. I’m eager for more of this kind of helpful knowledge! Try it with mine poppy playtime chapter 3, please!

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    “Absolutely inspiring message! ‘Start the next one today’ serves as a powerful reminder to embrace opportunities, cultivate resilience, and embark on new beginnings. Whether it’s a project, a goal, or a personal journey, the key is to take that first step now. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and your blog beautifully encapsulates the essence of proactive optimism. Here’s to embracing fresh starts and the endless possibilities they bring!”

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