The Opposite of a Practice

Getting back to our series on Having a Practice …

… it may be useful to define several ways of working that are NOT a practice.

  1. When we embark on a single, one-shot enterprise, hoping that the endeavor will succeed so brilliantly that we can cash in and say we’ve “made it” … that’s NOT a practice.
  2. When we finish our album or launch our startup and wait breathlessly to see if we’ve got a hit, that’s NOT a practice.
  3. When we invest ourselves emotionally in the outcome of any project, from a Spartan race to a one-act play to the launch of our new high-protein, low-fat, non-GMO energy beverage, that is NOT a practice.

In other words, when our motivation is grounded in our ego, we do not have a practice. 

Or to flip that statement on its head, the aim of a practice is effacement of the ego.

When Miss Craske told my friend David and his fellow Metropolitan Opera ballet students (see Writing Wednesdays, January 24 of this year) “Leave your problems outside,” she was saying:

This class is a practice. When you step inside this studio to dance, leave behind your fear, your competitiveness with others, your anger, your worry, your grudges, your complaints, your dissatisfaction with your lot, your greed for glory, your avarice for attention.

You are here to dance as well as you can. Leave your ego and your problems outside. 


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. Aniruddha Singh on March 13, 2024 at 1:49 am

    Steven Pressfield’s “The Opposite of a Practice” beautifully emphasizes the difference between chasing singular successes and embracing a continuous practice. This message is vital for anyone looking to grow personally and professionally. It reminds us that true mastery and satisfaction lie not in momentary achievements but in the dedication to a practice that transcends ego and focuses on the journey itself.

    Your insights are a valuable guide for embracing discipline and humility in our endeavors, fostering both personal growth and impactful work. Thank you for sharing this powerful perspective.

  2. Claudine Chi on March 13, 2024 at 1:58 am

    I don’t know if you’ve ever set foot in a dojo, but you Sir, are a martial artist in the form of a writer. Beyond the ego, devoted to the art, and in doing so- dedicated to the mastery of Self!
    With deep respect, and a heartfelt thank you.

  3. Tolis on March 13, 2024 at 3:20 am

    Thank you very much dear Steve.

    If I get it well, the Practice you talk about is “the unstoppable creation that comes to life tactically by the disciplined exploration -without stopping at any end or any obstacle that is material or emotional- on what the soul seeks”.

    • Sam on March 18, 2024 at 1:48 pm

      Man did I need to hear this. After 4 years of making YouTube videos, I finally made a viral video. My average views per video were around one or two thousand, and this video got over half a million in a less than a month. I went from a couple comments per day, to hundreds.

      Now the hype has settled down, but its totally affected my practice. I’ve been to attached to the outcomes of my videos when before I didn’t care. That attention was like a drug to my ego that I can’t stop craving. I dread posting now because I’m afraid the video won’t perform well, despite the fact that my videos are doing 5 times better on average than they were last year. I really needed to be reminded about what got me here in the first place.

      Thank you!

  4. Suzanne in Ottawa on March 13, 2024 at 3:22 am

    Like rolling a rock, from the entrance to a cave, practice rounds the ego, softening the cranky corners in forward momentum.

    Thank you Mr. Pressfield for such wisdom. These last few weeks I’ve been thinking of athletes as some of the most relaxed and gracious people, because of their practice. They seem to know themselves, having worked through their resistance, that you have described so well.

    • Brian Nelson on March 13, 2024 at 7:14 am

      ‘…rounds the ego, softening the cranky corners…’
      Great imagery.

  5. Alex Blake on March 13, 2024 at 3:39 am

    Brilliant insight Steven! It’s simple but yet so profound and powerful to approach creativity that way. This is exactly what I needed to hear, thanks!

    By the way, reading the War of Art 14 years ago rocked my world so hard and I’m eternally grateful!

  6. MICHAEL R LOMBARDI on March 13, 2024 at 4:13 am

    As Bill Belichick would say, practice execution becomes games reality. I love this.

  7. Melanie Swirtzer Reilly on March 13, 2024 at 4:45 am

    Writing in Steven’s comment section is not a practice. Thank you once again for your sage words of wisdom! Much appreciated!

  8. Peter Brockwell on March 13, 2024 at 4:46 am

    I feel that with a practice there’s a sense of surrender to it. We’re no longer fighting against reality and dissatisfied whenever we reach the end of a session and find, for example, that we were derailed from the goal for that particular session by being diverted into other issues with the endeavour. We now know that it just is what it is. We’re grateful for the opportunity to have had the practice, and we’ll do the same tomorrow.

    I’ve felt this deeply since I managed to finally get my s**t together and started writing daily in January, coincident also upon starting to read The Daily Pressfield, and suffering the loss of my cat and a close friend. My perspective changed and I realised I had to prioritise and surrender to a daily writing practice. I think reading TDP in snippets refreshes my ability each day to recognise Resistance and tell it “Yeah, I see you, sunshine. Just jog on and I’ll see ya tomorrow…” And Steve’s brilliant analyses of his own quotes in TDP reminds me powerfully that we each are uniquely placed to bring into existence the unique pieces of work that are calling to us to bring them into existence, and so forth.

    Thank you Steve,

    • Brian Nelson on March 13, 2024 at 7:19 am

      I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t think there is any preparation one can do to ‘strengthen a loss muscle’. It is always raw, always too soon, always alarmingly new each time. It maybe the most unifying experience for humans, while being universal in its pain.

      Writing everyday is probably the best medicine–let me rephrase–working on a practice is probably the best medicine for grief–and for humans in any period of their lives.

      It is great to read you’re doing well.

      • Peter Brockwell on March 13, 2024 at 8:32 am

        Thanks for your kind words Brian. Means a lot.

        Grief is interesting. I’ve found this year (and when my mother passed away from cancer in 2012) that it has a kind of dynamic in that the whole in your heart remains, but you simply get used to the new reality. Have you found that?

        Right now I’m in the middle of a series of botched eye surgeries (detached retina), and am keeping a good SOH about it. The enforced ‘taking a step back’ from all the normal life pressure/distraction/stress is proving wonderful for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing, though it’s (temporarily) made writing much more difficult of course. I’m really able to take stock and I’m finding so much gratitude available.

        Hope you’re doing ok B.

  9. Rick Lewis on March 13, 2024 at 5:06 am

    Useful gems as usual Steven. “The aim of practice is effacement of the ego.” Can you say more about these two terms? What is “ego” from your perspective, and why the aim that it be “effaced”? Thank you.

  10. Lyn Blair on March 13, 2024 at 5:37 am

    “The aim of practice is effacement of the ego.” The truth of that statement is profound. Shedding the ego is the only way to find creativity. I loved this post. Thank you!

  11. Barry Mascarenhas on March 13, 2024 at 5:47 am

    Amen. Thanks Steve!

    • Mellie Smith on March 13, 2024 at 7:09 am

      Ah, the ego. That part of us that is constantly looking around to see who’s looking, like a dog asking, “Am I a good dog? Who’s a good girl? Tell me it’s me! Say I’m a good girl!” [pant, pant, pant]

      More profound insight, Steven. Thank you.

  12. Bing Wilson on March 13, 2024 at 5:48 am

    Great post Steve! Ahh practice, my favorite subject that I have learned from Steve. I have learned to be a lunch bucket Pro. I am an artist, I write myself personal contracts. I do this because I am good at keeping my word. I am on my second 90 day contract, I am on day 110. I was sweating bullets crossing that 90 day finishing line. My contract reads 1.5 hr/day/6days/week. I averaged over 2 hrs/day. Last night I was up till 11PM to keep my word. I also do not talk about my practice. I will never forget the story Steve told about the woman who catches a cab at 5 AM in NY on her way to the dance studio. Her practice started when she got in the cab. The folks who have a practice in my mind are total bad asses. I love and honor myself for having a practice. By the way as a side effect of having a practice, the practice will eat the ego for lunch!

    • Steven Pressfield on March 13, 2024 at 10:12 am

      Yes! That woman is Twyla Tharp, the great choreographer, and her book is “The Creative Habit.” Highly recommended. She’s got one or two more too …

  13. Elizabeth on March 13, 2024 at 6:33 am

    I needed this at this very moment more than I can say.
    Thank you. Guilty as charged. You’ve given me a way to exit the morass and just do the damn thing. Again.

  14. Jim on March 13, 2024 at 6:50 am

    You hit the nail on the head!
    Your definition of ‘a practice’ by stating what it’s not puts my finger on exactly where my head goes sometimes. Thanks for the flipping it on it’s head and in turn, calling me out.

  15. Julio Baptista Barroco on March 13, 2024 at 6:54 am

    Such a much needed gem!

  16. Simeon Talley on March 13, 2024 at 7:06 am

    Very useful.

    Ego is and always has been the enemy.

  17. Brian Nelson on March 13, 2024 at 7:22 am

    I am a blackbelt at Not-A-Practice. I could write for days about that–but no one would read it because it is a victim narrative without the Heroes Journey. It is a victim stuck in the mud.

    The ego…what a bastard!

  18. Scott Mitchell on March 13, 2024 at 7:46 am

    This reminds me of pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s book “Sully”, in which he discusses the need for what he calls “goal sacrifice.” In his context of his passenger aircraft losing power over New York City, he had to make a hard decision whether he could save the aircraft by trying to reach an airport, or maybe save the passengers by crash-landing on water. He chose to sacrifice the goal of trying to save the aircraft.

    It sounds like The Practice involves much goal sacrifice. You sacrifice the goals of working on ego-stuff, or watching the news, or seeing what’s new on the internet, all of which can be rationalized in the moment. You have to make continuous hard decisions on where to focus your time and energy on “what the soul seeks.” (Great line by Tolis, above!) Thanks as always, Steven!

  19. Shane Meche on March 13, 2024 at 7:57 am

    For some, this is a gut punch, others as validation. It forces us to face truth of ourselves.

  20. Tony Crook on March 13, 2024 at 8:00 am

    What is NOT a practice?! Excellent timing! As an entrepreneur working in a new industry (food/beverage/importing) for the last 3 years just trying to figure out how to get my first order (revenue), I can honestly say the EGO has started taking over the driving wheel. Your message today is a quick reminder to elbow the EGO and say “GET BACK”. Also, I am bewildered how you know what insight to share on this blog any given day that your “fan club” needs to hear. Thank you my friend.

  21. Barbara McEvoy on March 13, 2024 at 8:34 am


  22. Craig Lueck on March 13, 2024 at 8:52 am

    You’ve pulled off the veil, again. Beautifully and smartly stated. Thank you. Gosh. Can’t hide now.

  23. Dave on March 13, 2024 at 10:02 am

    I’ve met a few masters, a tennis player, a mathematician and a golfer. The one things they all did everyday was review and practice the same thing. They always write notes on technique and practiced the same technique everyday.
    Great drop this week Steven .

  24. DeWayne on March 13, 2024 at 10:37 am

    Always helpful. Thanks for doing what you do so well. Inspirational.

  25. Chuck DeBettignies on March 13, 2024 at 11:04 am

    Wow! When the ego is effaced/dissolved, that’s where the magic lives.
    I don’t know how you come up with these gems each week Steve!
    Oh wait . . . Maybe it has something to do with a practice . . .

  26. Maureen Anderson on March 13, 2024 at 11:15 am

    It’s what Scott Adams would call a goal as opposed to a system. One suggests an endpoint and validation; the other is who you are.

    I think of a story sales trainer Chris Lytle tells about Stephen King. King was asked, “You’ve made all this money. Why don’t you just stop writing?” And King said, “What makes you think I can stop?”

  27. Barbara Newton-Holmes on March 13, 2024 at 11:26 am

    Beautiful reminder. Thanks, as always.

  28. Gene on March 13, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    The journey IS the reward.

  29. Jeff Korhan on March 13, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Steve – I just finished the book, The Boys In The Boat, and its message very much aligns with this. Eight oarsmen/women cannot achieve their collective best effort until all of them learn to trust each other. If just one of them fails to do that, it all falls apart.

  30. Jackie on March 13, 2024 at 12:33 pm

    By following the above three statements, it’s a job. By giving in to a practice, it’s a passion with a life’s work. Thanks, Steve.

  31. Sally Jupe on March 13, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for your Writings on Wednesday Steven, from which I normally learn a great deal. However, this one leaves me with questions, despite the comments above being mostly in total awe of it, and in agreement with you, which only serves to increase my own feeling of ignorance and lack of practice and certainly egotism because I do not understand why I do not agree with what you are saying here. Maybe you can help me out a little please?
    My questions are:
    a) Is it now so wrong to allow, or have ‘any sense’ of our ego in our lives any more, even just to succeed for ourselves and satisfy our own creative callings, whether that calling or project inadvertently, or with some hope, earns us a living or not?
    b) I am unsure why our egos are being demonised so much now. Do we not need to sense and get to ‘know’ our egos in order to discern or build good practice in the first place?
    c) Why do we need to rub out, obliterate, utterly surpass, eclipse or simply regard our egos as unimportant? Are they not an essential part of us too?
    d) Are we not over analysing everything we do now as artists or creators? Surely we all require ‘motivation’ just to live and certainly to grow as humans, and is that not now recommended to have either, in case it too is grounded in ego and how do we even measure that grounding?
    e) Shouldn’t we, or don’t we always invest ourselves emotionally in all the art / projects we make to be able create them in the first place and again build our practice?
    f) Because someone may have created something, totally without practice, say as a fluke, like a wonderful poem, an essay, or artwork, which was maybe created solely through an emotional response to something, that then goes viral and perhaps they become famous, or create wealth from it, for example; does that automatically mean that it was created from ego? They created it surely as it helped them at the time but published it in the hope it would reach and affect other people positively?
    The OED defines ‘Practice’ as 1. Habitual action or carrying on. 2.Repeated exercise in an art etc. 3.Professional work or business. (which seems at odds with your post) 4. Scheming, contrivance, artifice, underhand. (which certainly seems at odds!) 5. Mode of finding value of a given number of articles, or of quantity of commodity for a given price, when quantity or price are or both are in several denominations. 6. In the realm of action, as quite useless, i.e. would never work. Do these definitions not sound just like our egos? Then of course you have the other spelling and meaning as in, ‘practise’ such as, what you preach perhaps?
    Hoping you can enlighten me. x

  32. E. Kaylena on March 13, 2024 at 1:25 pm

    Oh my gosh Steve! You have a way of giving me exactly the kick in the pants I needed, the knock off the ledge, the right-sizing without engaging my ego or wounding it at all. Simply sidestepping it and calling directly to the inner true artist in me. Thank you for speaking to her. She needed this fathering advice more than she knew.

  33. Joe Badalamente on March 13, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    “You are not entitled to the fruits of your labor.” Is how I believe the Gita states it? It is a subtle shift of attitude but a game changer in terms of reducing anxiety. I struggle with creating a true writing practice; a set time, a space etc. But doing the work with no expectation is how I now look at the gym. Up until my late 40s I lifted weights and did cardio to look a certain way. Now I go through a circuit and lift very lightly, viewing it as prophylactic physical therapy. I do it to do it, hoping it may keep me out of a wheelchair someday. So, perhaps if I can get to the point of having a true writing practice it will keep me out an asylum someday!

  34. Julie on March 13, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    I think that the practice is super important. Very important. But, I think it’s ok to have goals too. The goals help motivate you to engage in the practice. Also, trusting in God’s plan for your life helps with engaging in the daily practice.

    • Slade Ham on March 14, 2024 at 6:04 am

      Goals are tool to keep you in the practice, but not an end to themselves.

  35. Aaron C on March 13, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    I admit I’m having trouble finding out why I need a practice. Right now, I think it’s because not having one manifests itself as the last remaining reason why I’m still a miserable person inside. When I write, that day I am OK. The problem is, I hate writing. I don’t know how to reconcile these two things.

  36. Rachele on March 14, 2024 at 3:37 am

    Love this! So brilliant and totally on point, as usual! Thank you Steven!

  37. David Moe on March 14, 2024 at 5:55 am

    Humbling words. And like the slap in the face of our hero… Thanks, I needed that!

  38. Slade Ham on March 14, 2024 at 6:02 am

    I’ve spent the last year trying to build up an immunity to this exact, seemingly-inevitable expectation (my new thing comes out 4/2). I think I’m there; we shall see.

    This Chinese proverb has been helpful: Three things to decide in advance: the rules, the stakes, and the quitting time. At the least, I hope to be grounded enough to avoid reactionary decisions and emotions.

    As for the project, I know quite well that it ceases to be mine once its out the door. Fortunately, the best inoculation is to have already started the next one, and I have. That’s the practice.

  39. Jazz R on March 14, 2024 at 3:04 pm

    This brings to mind a key way of determining if something falls under the definition of a project. If it’s a project, there’s a defined end. If it’s continuous, it’s operational. The record, book, etc. is a project. The practice is operational. It might get interrupted on occasion but it doesn’t end.

  40. Doug on March 14, 2024 at 6:38 pm

    This strikes home when I think that a book, a project or a workout is a failure. Writing ONE book is not the end all, be all. That research project that got a fair mark was not the end of researching. And, as much as the last workout felt off, it was still another workout. It took me the longest time to accept the title of writer, researcher or even fitness buff.

    Thank you, again, Steven.

  41. Y on March 14, 2024 at 9:08 pm

    As usual, just what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it! There’s been so many stages in my life where I was guilty of at least one of the “not a practices” (usually more). But after many years of doing the same self-defeating things over and over and seeing that it’s not moving me forward, I’m finally “getting” it. I think that some of it has to do with me changing a little in the way I look at things as I’ve gotten older (and I’ve gotten to understand the “long game” more), but the largest part of me finally coming around to that place of stability, just putting in the hours and the work without hinging my happiness of its outcome, is you sharing your wisdom, kindly lighting the way for the rest of us in the trenches, encouraging us, talking about the joys and frustrations from the viewpoint of one who’s been through it. Thanks, Steve.

  42. Facebook on March 18, 2024 at 10:05 pm
  43. Shifa Attia on March 18, 2024 at 10:07 pm

    Essay Mills UAE is one of the top-ranked brands on Google regarding Essay Writer Dubai. The brand has prominent researchers and writers who can quickly help UAE students with many different types of assignments, such as Admission essays, Dissertations, Personal statements, University assignments, and report writing.

  44. Commercial Projects in Noida on March 21, 2024 at 3:51 am

    This blog beautifully encapsulates the essence of embracing discomfort as a means of growth.

  45. Fear of God on March 22, 2024 at 3:49 am

    This in-depth analysis of Essentials Shorts truly captures the essence of the brand’s ethos and the allure of their iconic product. 🙌 From their impeccable craftsmanship to their unmatched versatility, these shorts embody the perfect balance of style and comfort. As a longtime admirer of Fear of God, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments expressed here. The brand’s commitment to quality and innovation shines through in every aspect of their design, making their Essentials line a timeless favorite. Whether you’re a fashion aficionado or simply appreciate high-quality essentials, Fear of God’s Essentials Shorts are a must-have addition to any wardrobe. 💯

  46. Spider on April 17, 2024 at 6:22 am

    🕷️👕 Swing into savings with Spider Hoodie! 🕸️

    🎉 Attention all web-slingers and fashion enthusiasts! We’re excited to announce an incredible 40% discount on our signature Spider Hoodie, available exclusively on the official Spider website! 🎉

    🕷️ Crafted for comfort and style, the Spider Hoodie is a must-have for anyone looking to add a touch of superhero flair to their wardrobe. Whether you’re out on the town or relaxing at home, this hoodie has got you covered. 🕷️

    🌟 Don’t miss out on this amazing deal! Head over to our website today to snag your very own Spider Hoodie at an unbeatable price. But hurry, this offer won’t last forever! 🌟

  47. Corteiz on April 17, 2024 at 6:23 am

    🎩👗 Step into elegance with Corteiz! 👑✨

    🎉 Exciting news for fashion aficionados! We’re thrilled to announce an exclusive 40% discount on all Corteiz products, available only on our official website! 🎉

    👗 Dive into a world of sophistication and style with Corteiz. Our collection features timeless pieces crafted with exquisite attention to detail, perfect for those who appreciate the finer things in life. 👑✨

    🌟 From luxurious dresses to tailored suits, Corteiz offers unparalleled quality and sophistication. Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost! Visit our website today to take advantage of this amazing offer. 🌟

Leave a Comment

Patronu aradığında sürekli hasta olduğunu söyleyerek iş yerine yalan söylüyor porno hikaye Patronu artık bu kadarının gerçek olamayacağını ve rapor görmek istediğini dile getirip telefonu kapatıyor türbanlı Olgun kadın hemen bilgisayarının başına geçip özel bir doktor buluyor ve onu arayarak evine davet ediyor porno Muayene için eve gelen doktor olgun kadını muayene ediyor ve hiç bir sıkıntı olmadığını söylüyor brazzers porno Sarışın ablamız ise iş yerine rapor götürmesi gerektiğini bu yüzden rapor yazmasını istiyor brazzers porno fakat doktor bunun pek mümkün olmadığını dile getiriyor sex hikayeleri Daha sonra evli olan bu kahpe doktora iş atarak ona yavşıyor ve istediğini alana kadar durmuyor Porno İzle Karılarını takas etmek isteyen elemanlar hep birlikte evde buluşuyor türkçe porno Güzel vakit geçirdikten sonra kızlara isteklerini iletiyorlar ve hatunlarda kocalarının bu isteklerini kabul ediyorlar seks hikayeleri Hemen ellerine telefonları alan elemanlar karılarına video eşliğinde sakso çektiriyorlar porno izle Hiç beklemeden sikişe geçen elemanlar hatunları değiştire değiştire sikmeye başlıyorlar.