I had a meditation teacher once who instructed us, her students, to

“Sit without hope, sit without fear.”

At the time, I couldn’t understand what she meant. But today, remembering, I think she was trying to get us to embrace meditation as a practice.

In other words, she wanted us to see meditation as an enterprise that we engaged in without attachment—positive or negative—to an outcome.

Don’t sit because you’re hoping to achieve enlightenment.

Don’t sit because you’re trying to get past your personal pain or grief or remorse.

Don’t sit to heal your emotional wounds.

Don’t sit for peace or love or Cosmic Consciousness.

Just sit.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to go deep. 

Don’t be afraid to let go. 

Don’t be afraid that you’ll go too far or turn a corner into some weird space that you can’t get out of.

Just sit.

This is the goal of a practice in anything. 

“Sit without hope, sit without fear.”

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

56 Comments

  1. Nikhil Kashyap on April 3, 2024 at 2:20 am

    I have often said myself this thing, but unfortunately this hasn’t worked for me. What works for me is that knowing Steven Pressfield or William Golding or James Joyce or Frank Herbert had gone through this same phase, that of not knowing what future holds, that creating something means disappointment and fear and frustration… but forces work as we work and the black clouds will give way to clear sky if we take the leap of faith and persist, and that this work of ours is only what we can give back to the universe. I also am a believer in having a mentor to turn to even if they are not physically with you or are dead: In the story of Eklavya from Mahabharata, Eklavya after being rejected by Dronacharya creates a bust of him and practices in front of it, and he became such an accomplished archer that Dronacharya asked him to give his thumb.

    • miriam joy on April 3, 2024 at 6:05 pm

      Sitting in stillness is a gift, especially in today’s world. Everything is so loud. It feels good to succumb to moments of quiet. No matter what comes, we can be suspended in time in this very moment and feel everything is at it should be. Sometimes that reminder helps me release the very thing keeping me from moving forward, and often times it is just a feeling inside me. In stillness, I find again the real me, the one who believes it is possible. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Qurban on April 3, 2024 at 2:35 am

    Fucken brilliant I love it! Just be you – wherever you are at – be ok with content with you and life…

  3. Pete Miller on April 3, 2024 at 2:49 am

    Today’s Wednesday Writing recalled my early meditation attempts ; as was instructed on Day One of acting school.
    The teacher said “color breathing” as a meditation would help me stay in character and concentrate for many hours on stage.
    I agreed with the theory, but found the repetitive practice too boring.
    My bum was sore and my thoughts were excited.
    Maybe I was not ready to clear my mind and let go just yet.
    I tried other methods like TM which I found useful for insomnia.
    Then I discovered the Silva Mind Control.
    Ta Da. I’m Home and Happy.

  4. Rock Kendzior on April 3, 2024 at 2:57 am

    Thanks again for sharing simple wisdom.

  5. Leigh Griffin on April 3, 2024 at 3:04 am

    ❤️ Thanks for the reminder! I forget how simple it can be

    • Fernando Bérdi on April 3, 2024 at 8:51 am

      Perfeitamente.
      Obrigado Steve.

  6. Mia Sherwood Landau on April 3, 2024 at 3:16 am

    I get it, Steven. But for me, for now, the energy of hope is the oxygen in every breath of life. The reality of hope accompanies me however and whatever I practice. I don’t have to abandon hope to abandon fear.

  7. Karin on April 3, 2024 at 3:18 am

    ❤️❤️❤️

  8. Gerovani Blackshear on April 3, 2024 at 3:18 am

    THIS!! I have struggled to meditate for years! Tried various methods even paid to learn TM. I just could not and I did not know why. You just provided the answer with this “ Likewise, don’t be afraid to go deep. Don’t be afraid to let go.
    Don’t be afraid that you’ll go too far or turn a corner into some weird space that you can’t get out of” Once again, fear, of the unknown, fear of the unconscious, fear of the buried. It is always FEAR!! Damn it!!

  9. Jackie on April 3, 2024 at 4:10 am

    I climbed trees as a kid without fear of falling. The branches held me in the air while I could just be. Today, I partake in a practice called sitting and watching the grass grow. The practice reminds me of me before the world of adults ruin things.

    • Kathy on April 3, 2024 at 5:37 am

      Jackie, that’s so precious.

  10. Karen Møller on April 3, 2024 at 4:10 am

    Thank you Steven. I learned TM when I was ten years old and never got it. I tried. Now at 61 with your wordd, I finally do. Thank you. Scobidoo.

  11. Mike A on April 3, 2024 at 4:12 am

    This is a lesson applicable to any pursuit, beyond writing or art. So good.

  12. Valerie on April 3, 2024 at 4:23 am

    I love this! Thank you for writing it today!

  13. Peter Bailey on April 3, 2024 at 4:30 am

    Thank you again for sharing your wisdom and experience on the writing practice…So much has been written about this topic, but you seem to cut to the core, pushing us past the resistance and the distractions to the cold hard fact that to write, we must write. Simple as that. And if we do, magical things will more likely happen…but we have to detach from outcome. Thank you!

  14. Gregory on April 3, 2024 at 4:42 am

    Got it, Steve. Sit and be human being. Then act and be a human doing.

  15. Kathy on April 3, 2024 at 5:34 am

    This is so lovely.
    Thank you.
    🍃🌸🍃

  16. Debra Tufts on April 3, 2024 at 5:34 am

    🩵

  17. Cathy Breslaw on April 3, 2024 at 5:41 am

    Great reminder that “we are enough” – to just “be”.

  18. bill ouellette on April 3, 2024 at 5:51 am

    Good advice! Meditation is simple but hard.

  19. Bobbie Falin on April 3, 2024 at 6:34 am

    Nice! Now that spring is here, we have the perfect setting. Go outside. Breathe. Sit.

  20. Kate Stanton on April 3, 2024 at 7:03 am

    I read this religiously each Wednesday, but I must comment and say how serendipitous this blog is for me today. Just yesterday morning, I wrote a song demo called “Spin It”. I woke up wondering if the nagging inner voice isn’t trying to punish me, but protect me? Much like physical pain is a communicator that something is wrong, perhaps the inner critic is only trying to keep me safe from past hurt? I want to sit with it. Listen. Spin the perspective. Every negative word I sing 🎶 has a purpose. Thank you for listening to my ideas.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoSs8MmVlPM

    I now want to take this one step further as Steve says above. Just sit and go deep. Don’t TRY to heal anything. He’s getting all Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on us!! Message well received. Thank you for this.

    • Kathy on April 3, 2024 at 7:52 am

      Beautiful song Kate.

    • Joe on April 3, 2024 at 7:58 am

      Clicked a Like on Spin It, Kate.

      • Brad Graft on April 3, 2024 at 11:52 am

        I did the same, Kate. Great work. Enchanting voice.

    • Anonymous on April 3, 2024 at 12:57 pm

      Great song, Kate. I also liked Enough.

    • Maureen Anderson on April 3, 2024 at 3:41 pm

      ❤️❤️❤️

  21. Chris Scott on April 3, 2024 at 7:09 am

    Reminds me of my favorite thing ever written about meditation, written by someone who I think probably never meditated:
    “ I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
    For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
    But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
    Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
    So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

  22. Edie Tepper on April 3, 2024 at 7:34 am

    Beautiful understanding. Thank you

  23. Tolis on April 3, 2024 at 7:50 am

    Thank you very much dear Steve.

    Sit on that chair. The secret of the professional writers.

    Maybe the basis of assuring that a creation becomes reality.

    If I’m not wrong, that also goes for bad stuff. So for almost all stuff.

    Those miserable figures who shape everyday life in TV e.g., maybe the only thing they do right is they sit on that chair. And even after 30 years when I turn on the tv (not me, others, I’ve turned it off permanently a long time ago) I see them. On that chair. Or standing. And they shape perceptions by recycling nothingness with small updates on unimportant qualities like body language and high definition cameras.

    Ah, there they got me for a moment -I criticised instead of thinking wisely.

  24. Joe Jansen on April 3, 2024 at 8:00 am

    This is the simplest and clearest overview of meditation I’ve come across:

    • Joe on April 3, 2024 at 8:43 am

      Also, just came across this quote and thought I’d drop it in here:

      “The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows.”

      — Michelangelo

      • Sam Luna on April 3, 2024 at 12:30 pm

        Love that quote, Joe. Speaks to many things including the art/practice of slow writing, which I’m a big proponent of.

        • Joe on April 4, 2024 at 10:18 am

          Thumbs up, Sam!

    • Anonymous on April 3, 2024 at 1:01 pm

      Simple and so true, Joe. Try, fail, start again.

    • Joe on April 3, 2024 at 2:14 pm

      One more (crediting Garry Shandling):

      “Why did the Buddha never get married?”
      “He didn’t want a wife always asking, ‘Are you just going to sit around like that all day?'”

    • Maureen Anderson on April 3, 2024 at 3:48 pm

      Love it! A bicep curl for my brain! Thanks, Joe 🙂

      • Joe on April 4, 2024 at 10:20 am

        You bet, Maureen!

  25. mike henderson on April 3, 2024 at 8:04 am

    M 1…We both know there is a lot more “going on out there” than we understand..and I dont believe in coincidence any longer. Last night was the start of an 8 week course from the Center for Mindfulness..started by Jon Kabat Zinn. I have taken a number of these and courses in Centering Prayer here at Snowmass.
    The takeaway for me and I think the main point the teacher was making was “Embrace the Practice”…nothing else. just do it. I also for the first time in 30 years picked up the concept of having somewhere on your body to ground yourself..to bring in my case the busy moving mind back to center.
    It is like the Universe , God, or whoever the master meditator out there is trying to get through. To Improve..Practice.
    My mom, two time British champion, would tell me each time we played and I rocketed a shot into the woods..” You really should take some time to practice”
    So for me it ALL comes down to two things in all my endeavors to improve..Beat Resistance and Practice.!!! As you have shown me for years a daily struggle..I guess I will attribute it to your Marine Corps training !! Take Care..Best to the beautiful, creative, tireless Diana….Hope to see you in2024…LT

    • Joe on April 3, 2024 at 8:41 am

      JKZ = OG

  26. Ed Hinman on April 3, 2024 at 8:42 am

    Love this one, Steve! Let it be.

  27. Bane on April 3, 2024 at 9:56 am

    Ship without Hope.
    Ship without Fear.

  28. Arthur Fratelli on April 3, 2024 at 11:08 am

    As I work on practicing card shuffling I read this blog and YES! These lines resonated with me-” don’t be afraid to go deep.

    Don’t be afraid to let go.

    Don’t be afraid that you’ll go too far or turn a corner into some weird space that you can’t get out of.

    Just sit.

    This is the goal of a practice in anything.”

    This is what happens when I am seeing progress towards a goal in practice!

  29. Eric Biehl on April 3, 2024 at 12:13 pm

    Outcome based art/life always prostitutes the soul.

  30. Tom W on April 3, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    What sre you doing, sheasked

    Just Taking a Sit. I replied.

  31. Chris L on April 3, 2024 at 6:54 pm

    This one stayed with me all day. Thank you. After years of enjoying your work, this one kind of rocked me a bit. Not sure why, but it hit a nerve. I think it’s the combination of both.

  32. James on April 3, 2024 at 6:56 pm

    Normally, I love your posts. But until you give up profits from your labors, I don’t buy this one. I think there was a study that said US citizens only need $60,000 per year to be happy. However, the authors were making and keeping well over that amount. And I’m not sure when Lucas will produce the sequel to Howard the Duck. Last I looked, The War of Art was going for $9.99 on Amazon.

  33. carol on April 4, 2024 at 3:58 am

    I struggled with the idea of sitting in silence and the fear of what would come up – a lot of pain and regret but it also is essential to move forward, to become fine with oneself and accept you are human, flawed and can strive to do better to reach your goals. I still struggle with the monkey mind talk but sitting in silence with one self is a treat I embrace now to shed the day away and take time for myself. We focus on our flaws and how to be mindful, practice this and that; essentially you need to sit in quietness and embrace the beautiful quality and clarity that comes from it. Even if you don’t meditate, sitting in silence with no distractions is beautiful and helps train your mind to relax and focus on one self. Love the post and words of wisdom.

  34. Dalit Berkowitz on April 4, 2024 at 6:43 am

    I love this, Steven. It took me years to be able to do this. There is so much “specialness” surrounding meditation that can really obscure its helpfulness. Now I can finally and simply sit without hope or fear daily, and that makes all the difference.

  35. Karen on April 4, 2024 at 9:17 am

    Replace “sit” with “write” and this becomes a mantra to hush the emotions that rattle the writer.

  36. Gerry Lantz on April 5, 2024 at 8:27 am

    Loved Joe’s animation!
    My favorite book on meditation is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. Simple. Clear. Just sit.

  37. Michael Kennedy on April 5, 2024 at 9:18 pm

    I had a similar teacher who once said something similar to me: He said, “Don’t do something, sit there!” At the time I had no idea what he meant. Now I do.

  38. Ann Honeywell on April 9, 2024 at 3:55 am

    Before the wedding, I was so overwhelmed with a lot of things to do, and a lot of problems, that I couldn’t sleep at night. To top it all off, the jeweler who made our wedding rings simply forgot about our order. I was already disappointed and had given up when my friend came up to me and told me to “just sit” and not think about anything. At that moment, I didn’t believe that anything could help, but it really gave me the opportunity to rethink everything. A deep breath and I’m already on the site https://jewelrybro.com/, I found a reliable jeweler, and our day was saved.

  39. Paul Childs on April 17, 2024 at 12:46 am

    Thanks Steve. As always brilliant wisdom elegantly expressed. Years ago I worked with David Allen and taught GTD. He was my Monk of productivity He always said “Make things as simple as possible. But no simpler,”. Your work had touched so many people. I read and listen all your stuff just to “sit” with you. Thank you my friend. 🙏🏻

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