“Leave your problems outside”

My great friend and mentor (and also my first boss), David Leddick, spent several years as a ballet dancer with the Metropolitan Opera. David trained with a celebrated teacher named Margaret Craske.

David Leddick in Metropolitan days

Here’s what he wrote in his book, I’m Not For Everyone. Neither Are You.

I studied ballet at the old Metropolitan Opera when Antony Tudor, the famous choreographer, was the head of the ballet school. In fact, Margaret Craske was the teacher most students considered to be more important.  She had danced with Pavlova in the ’20s. 

Miss Craske instructed us: “Leave your problems outside the classroom.”

Such good advice. And in that hour and a half of intense concentration on every part of your body, the music, the coordinating with other dancers—you really couldn’t think about your troubles and it was great escaping them. You emerged much more relaxed and self-confident.

We worked hard. We never had a sick day. You went on even if you had to lie down in the wings until you were needed. No one thought this was unusual. 

At the Met, the powers that be were only interested in two things: how well you sang and how well you danced. Your race didn’t count, your background, sexual preferences, family, none of that mattered. You had to deliver.  That was the sole standard. It was great.

In later careers, all of this has stood me in good stead. I never had to work that hard in any of the various worlds I entered. I knew the quality of the work I was doing. Dancing at the Met was a wonderful experience and a wonderful preparation for the rest of my life.

When we say, “A practice has a space and that space is sacred,” this is what we mean.

We leave our problems outside.

We leave our egos outside. (We enter with aspiration and intention but not with ego.)

We leave our attachment to outcomes outside.

A practice has a space… and that space is sacred.


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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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. Qurban on January 24, 2024 at 1:51 am

    I really like this practice is sacred stuff thx for sharing

  2. Tolis on January 24, 2024 at 1:51 am

    Thank you very much dear Steve. We must indeed do that. I felt it clearly, the sacred place, while learning acting with Rzysard Nieocyzm: when we were to start the session of the physical theater, he would close the door in silence always instructing us all to lay down on the floor and “Do Nothing”. No one would enter from then on or stop the session. His “Do Nothing” propmt was a way to stop from our minds the Noise of the world. I remember I could only stop it for some seconds, then the flow of mentalstates would come back uninvited. Then he would put interesting soft but different from one another music songs on a simple radio and he would ask us to “wake up” and it would take some time to start moving on our own, it was like we were “Born Again” as physical entities, those plenty of minutes. Maybe one of the last songs on the line was the Greek Zorbas song, when we already had awakened our bodies to our best ability. It would take about 20 minutes for us to wake up our bodies, maybe more, and he would only watch and rarely make a statement only if needed to. A statement like “don’t think, do” or “move your body like a snake” or “don’t hurry to get up, take your time, take your time” or “don’t just move, try to reach the edges of your body parts’ movements, break the circle, break the circle. He wanted us to come to touch with our self.

    I now remembered a different detail that I mention just because it’s interesting: on the covid epidemic he would make such lessons through skype. I remember that one time, while talking at a break, he would say this: “I’m a witch…” in an casual way, while saying something else. Who knows what philosophy he had! Blending metaphysics with the physical world.

    Ryszard has passed away. I “talk to him” while running sometimes, in that other sacred space where you can think and act freely, the space of the runners. But the sacred space must endure; and it doesn’t endure very succesfully for me, I can tell, while creating. Luckily, working a few hours in my car may be helping that a bit, but even then I am prone to distractions.

    Sacred, sacred, sacred.

    • Tolis on January 24, 2024 at 2:03 am

      Ah, and an interesting observation: while we live so great experiences, we completely erase them from our everyday lives. I wouldn’t remember at all his energy if I didn’t focus on that now – and this was remembering just for a few minutes, although I would so much love to be in touch with my teacher’s rememberence for hours and tactically. But it is just a few minutes and then the only thing that remains is… mundane hundreds of hours. So strange, the aspects of the sacred to be so small. And while working on the book, it looks to me more like mundane days than exceptional magic.

      I remember mr. Brian Tracy saying: “If I told you how little (in terms of time) the others are thinking of you, even your close relatives, you would be insulted.”

      Gonna call that classmate from our Ryszard’s class right now 😉 resisting the all-erasing Resistance a bit. Just a funny and naziarian bit.

      • Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 7:09 am

        Tolis, beautiful.

        • Tolis on January 26, 2024 at 6:31 am

          Thank you so much Kathy.

    • Joan Di Stefano on January 24, 2024 at 10:39 am

      Thank you Steven and thank you Tolis ! I am self motivated in my career but .make problems when I allow a low .mood to win over my practice.

      • Tolis on January 26, 2024 at 6:34 am

        One knowledgable man told me once that our biggest weakness pulls us more behind than our biggest power push us forward Joan! Fight that low mood, you must find the way. Thank you so much, too!

  3. Reji Varghese on January 24, 2024 at 2:38 am

    Thanks for quoting David – “Your race didn’t count, your background, sexual preferences, family, none of that mattered. You had to deliver. That was the sole standard.”
    Great wisdom, Steve. Thanks for re-iterating.

  4. Lee Bodkin on January 24, 2024 at 2:48 am

    Getting back to my writing practice this morning – a great day to be reminded that it’s about the “work” and leaving all that other sh*t behind.

  5. Tara C Heaton on January 24, 2024 at 3:15 am

    Such a powerful reminder of what potential we may be leaving untapped. Thank you.

  6. Terri Cole on January 24, 2024 at 3:26 am

    A perfect message as I get down to the wire on my next book. The challenge to stick to the work and leave the rest at the door has been steep. Your message today was just what I needed to hear. Thanks, pal 🙏

  7. Elon Blackwell on January 24, 2024 at 3:26 am

    Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field, And afterward, build your house. – Proverbs 24:27 This echoes with the wisdom of today’s post; preparation and cultivation of good works today take intentionally leaving everything else behind. Thanks, Steve, for this timely reminder.

  8. Ivanor on January 24, 2024 at 3:47 am

    A escolha de tornar um espaço, uma ação ou momento Sagrado, é nossa responsabilidade, é uma escolha interna de cada um. Obrigado por compartilhar esta experiência.

  9. Carol on January 24, 2024 at 4:02 am

    Oh Steve, your words always come at the right time and wake me up. We were recently “acquired” for etiquette way of saying “bought” and things are changing quickly – you lose focus on the actual work and feed the negative stressful animal. “A practice has a space… and that space is sacred” is magical. If you sit in a quiet room and just focus on those words, it can move your soul, turn off the outside noise, and you can get work done with goal driven focus, energy, enthusiasm, and persevere, and at the end of the day, tell that stressful animal, I starved you today for a path of renewed enthusiasm to accomplish your goal.

    I remember seeing you on the Rich Roll Podcast and of course Oprah. Have you thought about other podcast shows Lewis Howes, The Diary of a CEO, for a couple favorites? Thank You So Much for Sharing Your Words on Wednesday; some weeks it truly is a hump day.

  10. Jackie on January 24, 2024 at 4:21 am

    Finding the sacred space within the space, to bring forth truth and our reason for being. You hold us to high standards,indeed. Thank you, once again.

  11. Tim Wigham on January 24, 2024 at 5:03 am

    Brilliant. And so true.

    Writing and Fitness are these practices for me!

  12. Chris on January 24, 2024 at 5:38 am

    I love it and since I first read this advice by Steven, I have profited from it. My question is, what do you do when all of a sudden external obstacles impinge on your previously focused practice space? I have a home studio where I do spoken word recording and my neighbors in the past were hardly home which is why I was under the illusion that the space is pretty well sound insulated. Well, new neighbors have moved in and they also work from home. Turns out we can hear each other speaking due to poor sound isolation. So, now, my previously focused space is kind of a shared acoustic space. It has distracted me. Should I cease work until I can find a new space? How do you deal with unexpected intrusions into your space like this? In general, how does one deal with unexpected external events which throw a monkey wrench into your schedule or habits?

    • Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 7:04 am

      Hummm… Chris, what to do. Soundproof the area without hesitation. No matter how crappy it might look. Locate to a smaller area in your house, even a closet. Get that foam stuff they use for music. My husband had a band in Hawaii. We got old drapes from hotels and covered the whole room. It looked like crap but it helped. Or, maybe agree on a schedule with your neighbor. Agree to be as quiet as a mouse from this time to that. You’ve probably thought of these things but I love brainstorming. One idea leads to the next.

      • Chris on January 24, 2024 at 1:19 pm

        Hi Kathy, talking to my neighbors about specific time slots is a good idea. I haven’t done that yet because I sort of wanted to observe what time it’s quieter. They have two small kids and they work from home themselves. Do you think it would be too intrusive for me to ask about a schedule? Crucially, what’s been bothersome is that they hear my repeated takes. They don’t have a problem with it but it does make me self-conscious, so I’ve been short-changing what I’m doing. It’s the self-consciousness of suddenly realizing “oops, someone is in the space.” That’s my problem. Having said that, the neighbors had a similar experience one night when I came home and they were having sex. They immediately scrambled to quiet down when they realized I was there. Kind of ruined it for them. For them it’s sex, for me it’s recording, I guess! Both things affected.

        • Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 2:58 pm

          Chris, hysterical about the sex sounds.

          What if you had them over for dinner? Get familiar enough with each other, so the sound subject or schedules doesn’t feel awkward. Maybe start by offering just a hint of the subject, to see if they bite at it. If they don’t, be more forthright. I guess.

          I paint in my garage. There are windows on the big front door. Our next door neighbors used to peek into those windows! Neighbors on the other side would bang on the big door, if they knew I was in there. I wanted to SCREAM… What is wrong with you people? I didn’t though. Instead I got this dark patterned film that covered the windows. I started wearing headphones instead of playin it through a speaker. It helped.

          On Kauai, where we put hotel drapes over all the windows? Well, that only worked slightly. One day the nextdoor neighbor banged on the door and was literally yelling. My husband was a gentle soul and somehow calmed the guy down. He invited him to hear them play. Not that he couldn’t hear already. lol. But the invite caused this neighbor to become an actual fan. We then added more stuff to help soundproof but it was always loud. An electric guitar and drums.,, well, it was loud.

          I think, that because they are hearing you, that’s a BIGGIE. That totally inhibits you. And if it wakes up their kids? You could wind up on one of those bad neighbor crime shows.

          Maybe try the dinner, while at the same time planning a soundproof booth. That’s what I think anyway.

          I can’t wait to hear what happens with it all.
          Good luck!

    • Sam Luna on January 24, 2024 at 8:46 am

      Chris, my neighbor is a VoiceOver artist and he built a fairly cheap recording booth purchased off Amazon that baffles his sound completely.

      My version is once ‘work from home’ took over in 2020 my wife moved into the home office — my (now former) sacred writing space. Well, that’s no more. So like my neighbor I had to get creative and bought a small folding desk that I set up in a corner of the living room and then store behind a door when not in use. Like Kathy said — it looks like crap — but it gets the job done.

      • Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 2:59 pm

        Chris! Check out what Sam’s advice is. Yay.

      • Chris on January 25, 2024 at 2:14 am

        Sam, love the adaptation regarding your work space and the creativity behind it. Thanks for sharing. When you say “Well, that’s no more”, it’s a blunt acknowledgment of the facts. I thought of the same thing this morning. Acknowledging the reality and grieving it may be a shock at first, but it also frees me up to look for alternatives and solutions rather than get frustrated that I can’t turn back time. I already found a bunch of other possibilities, including certain time windows and a different space.

  13. Bill C on January 24, 2024 at 5:42 am

    “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” — Mark Twain

    When I was a young, single Federal Agent I had a supervisor who used to offer the wisdom of the Trouble Tree. Before entering into your home after work, put all of your stress & anxiety into a back pack and hang it on the imaginary Trouble Tree in your front yard. When you pick it up again in the morning, you may find it is even lighter than before. Contrived. Immature. Condescending. I hated that stupid metaphor, until….I had a family. That Tree allowed me to be the plugged in husband, involved father and ‘sane’ off duty bubba. I saved the monster for deserving adversaries. Grateful for that supervisor’s wisdom.

    • Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 6:53 am

      Bill, beautiful. I think I need a trouble tree too. Thank you.

  14. Philip Ebuluofor on January 24, 2024 at 5:49 am

    Second time I am hearing this same advice. Leave your headache outside don’t enter any office with it when through with your business there, pick them up on your way out.

  15. Jack Henke on January 24, 2024 at 5:51 am

    Steve – thank you. I’ve been stuck in some personal muck and I’m surprised by that. This post has lifted me up to solid ground – maybe damp, but enough to get some traction

  16. Raquel Menarim on January 24, 2024 at 5:54 am

    Hello, Mr. Pressfield! Greetings from Brazil! I practiced Aikido for 15 years and we learn there that to practice truthfully we must be empty to enter the tatame and let it flow. This is why the do-gui is white, to be clean, spotless, like mind and heart should be. I believe this is true for any practice. Thank you again, forgive my poor English.

  17. Jeff Korhan on January 24, 2024 at 6:25 am


  18. Kathy on January 24, 2024 at 6:49 am

    What you shared here is so profound. It brought tears and I feel like sobbing really. That sacred space. You’ve put it all together. I think I’ve lost respect for it and I need to get it back. It’s just become so elusive to me. You think it will always be there because that’s who you are but that’s not true. I’ve abandoned it like a baby on the side of the road and ignored the fact that someone else, anyone else, yearning to express creativity, might just come along, pick it up and soothe it. The baby is me too though, so I can’t possibly keep leaving her there. Get up!

  19. Chad Allen on January 24, 2024 at 7:29 am

    Wow, another brilliant illustration. You’re holding up a diamond, Steven, and showing us the different facets.

    Thank you!

  20. Brian Nelson on January 24, 2024 at 8:52 am

    “Such good advice. And in that hour and a half of intense concentration on every part of your body, the music, the coordinating with other dancers—you really couldn’t think about your troubles and it was great escaping them. You emerged much more relaxed and self-confident.”

    An under-appreciated feature of the human condition. Once we table our inner dialogue/worries about our problems and focus completely on producing something–upon returning to the world – our problems generally shrink, pale to some degree, or our ability to see maneuver-room/opportunities in the problem emerge.

  21. Bing on January 24, 2024 at 9:09 am

    Beautiful post, loved it.

  22. Niko on January 24, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Beautiful!Every artist, whichever field, should have a designated creative space. It opens you up it makes u concentrated to create better and more openly.

  23. Maureen Anderson on January 24, 2024 at 10:22 am

    There are lots of things competing for my attention; they want to be worried about. “Fine,” I’ll tell them. “But you have to wait until ten o’clock Tuesday night.” I reassure my fears I’ll give them their due — but by God, they’re not going to spoil all of Monday and most of Tuesday. They have to wait.

    When I told an expert on the show about this, he called my strategy a good one. “It’s a commonly-used clinical technique,” he added. “It’s called worry postponement.”

    Now I think it’s also another way of saying, “Leave your problems outside” 🙂

  24. perra verde on January 24, 2024 at 11:47 am

    Thank you! I’m a painter, not a writer, but the practice of leaving my problems outside is one I should follow. And remembering that the studio is my sacred space. YES!
    Thank you for this reminder.

  25. Diane Dreher on January 25, 2024 at 11:52 am

    What a beautiful reminder! There is no place for ego in our sacred space. Thank you, Steve.

  26. Holly Higgins-Staudacher on January 25, 2024 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I am currently working with Lt. Col. (Ret) Scott Mann for The Heroes Journey as a Story Coach and that mentality is the only way to really accomplish our goals to tell stories in the service of others.

  27. Advoice Inc. on January 30, 2024 at 12:09 am

    Leave your problems outside” – what a refreshing mantra and a thought-provoking blog! In a world often consumed by stress and daily challenges, the concept of consciously stepping away from our problems, even if just for a moment, resonates deeply.

  28. Reggieros on February 1, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for good topics.my mind also seek and now all right.

  29. Advoice Inc. on February 5, 2024 at 2:40 am

    What a refreshing perspective! ‘Leave your problems outside’ is a powerful mantra that resonates deeply. This blog serves as a gentle reminder to prioritize self-care, mindfulness, and mental well-being. It’s a call to step into the present moment, leaving behind the burdens and stresses that might weigh us down. Embracing this mindset can lead to a more positive and fulfilling journey. Thank you for the inspiration!

  30. David watsan on March 4, 2024 at 9:55 pm

    DooFlix – Films Information Base is a Diversion application created by Ba Tech. You can play DooFlix – Motion pictures Information Base on PC subsequent to downloading an Android emulator from this page.

  31. meeloun on April 23, 2024 at 1:49 am

    From a startup small enterprise to a well-known brand in the industry, and from a small team to more than 500 writing teams under our umbrella, we have come a long way thanks to the trust and support of our clients. We will continue to provide high-quality online course assistance services at http://www.meeloun.com/ to each and every customer, just as we always have.

  32. Timothy on May 9, 2024 at 3:46 am

    Activate the smart SIM network and leave your problems at the door to immerse yourself in entertainment. Once you’ve activated the smart SIM network, indulge in the world of entertainment it offers without the weight of your worries dragging you down. Let the seamless connectivity and access to a myriad of entertainment options transport you to a realm of relaxation and enjoyment. By focusing on the entertainment possibilities of the smart network, you can temporarily escape from your troubles and rejuvenate your spirit.

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