- Title: Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way
- Author: Steven Pressfield. He is an fiction author, screenplay writer and coach.
- In my own words: At first glance this small book with its extreme fonting seems gimmicky. It is not. This book lays bare the uncomfortable truth of how to get better: put your ass in the chair and do the work. And it helps prepare you for the battle. This is in my top 5 self-improvement books of all time.
- Effort Required of you to get the most out of this book: Soul: 80%, Emotions: 19%, Mental: 1%, Physical: 0%. This is not a tactical book. It is an appeal to your soul.
- Topics Covered: Getting things done, the creative process
- Qualifications of Author: Been-there-done-that, Coach
- Content Source: Author’s experience
- Content and Style
- Tone: Urgent, Warm, Coach-like
- Writing Competency: Great
- Repetitiveness: Somewhat repetitive but necessary.
- Explanations: Great
- Organization: Good
- Anecdote level: Appropriate, 5%
- Convincingness of evidence: Good
- Annoyances: The extreme fonting put me off at first but I’m a believer now.
Should You Read This Book?
If you have these challenges:
You’re not getting your work done or not getting enough work done. Procrastinating, jumping from shiny new thing to shiny new thing and never finishing anything.
… then it might help you:
Understand that you have probably vastly underestimated the forces working against you. Encourages you like a fire-and-brimstone preacher that acknowledging these forces and then fighting them is the only way to get your work done.
But you might not want to read it if:
You are turned off by rah-rah and motivational speeches. (Though I urge you to give this book a shot anyway).
What I Got Out Of This Book
I liked that he anthropomorphizes the forces that keep you from doing your work into a thing called “The Resistance”. That way, instead of beating yourself up, you can use your energies to beat “The Resistance” up and actually get things done.
I found it helpful to change my perspective from “oh geez, why can’t I just get started on this simple task?” to “There is an immensely powerful force bearing down on me and ruthlessly fighting me with everything it has to keep me from working” a much more compassionate and useful view of the situation. Instead of showing up to the table, half-awake, partially distracted and casually just to get blown out of the water, I can instead show up alert, strong, focused and viewing it (rightfully) as a fight for my creative life.
Yes this book is repetitive in some ways.
But it HAS to be.
Think of it this way: You are training with a coach and one day they want you do to 100 pushups. The coach gets you pumped and ready and then you do a pushup as the coach cheers you on. You finish the first pushup and the coach says: “Yeah, ok 99 more like that” then he walks away.
That’s not as valuable as if he stood there and cheered you on the whole way while keeping you focused on your task.
The forces against you are strong and there’s a lot of pushups to do. This book drills it into your head how important it is.
I’ll often leave this book lying around the house. When procastinating, I’ll open it, read a few pages and think “shit, I’m procrastinating” and go right to work. If you’ve read the whole book and not started to do work, you’ve not understood the book, imo.