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Do the Work

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Could you be getting in your way of producing great work? Have you started a project but never finished? Would you like to do work that matters, but don't know where to start?

The answer is Do the Work, a manifesto by bestselling author Steven Pressfield, that will show you that it’s not about better ideas, it’s about actually doing the work.

Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door.

“There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours.”

Available in both a 5-pack and 48-pack for you to share, as well as a special collectible edition, Do the Work may be just what you need to get out of your own way.

For other titles like Do the Work, visit thedominoproject.com for more information.

112 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Steven Pressfield

96 books5,004 followers
I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943 to a Navy father and mother.

I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place again."

Forty years later, to my surprise and gratification, I am far more closely bound to the young men of the Marine Corps and to all other dirt-eating, ground-pounding outfits than I could ever have imagined.

GATES OF FIRE is one reason. Dog-eared paperbacks of this tale of the ancient Spartans have circulated throughout platoons of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since the first days of the invasions. E-mails come in by hundreds. GATES OF FIRE is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps' Reading list. It is taught at West Point and Annapolis and at the Marine Corps Basic School at Quantico. TIDES OF WAR is on the curriculum of the Naval War College.

From 2nd Battalion/6th Marines, which calls itself "the Spartans," to ODA 316 of the Special Forces, whose forearms are tattooed with the lambda of Lakedaemon, today's young warriors find a bond to their ancient precursors in the historical narratives of these novels.

My struggles to earn a living as a writer (it took seventeen years to get the first paycheck) are detailed in my 2002 book, THE WAR OF ART.

I have worked as an advertising copywriter, schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout and attendant in a mental hospital. I have picked fruit in Washington state and written screenplays in Tinseltown.

With the publication of THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE in 1995, I became a writer of books once and for all.

My writing philosophy is, not surprisingly, a kind of warrior code — internal rather than external — in which the enemy is identified as those forms of self-sabotage that I have labeled "Resistance" with a capital R (in THE WAR OF ART) and the technique for combatting these foes can be described as "turning pro."

I believe in previous lives.

I believe in the Muse.

I believe that books and music exist before they are written and that they are propelled into material being by their own imperative to be born, via the offices of those willing servants of discipline, imagination and inspiration, whom we call artists. My conception of the artist's role is a combination of reverence for the unknowable nature of "where it all comes from" and a no-nonsense, blue-collar demystification of the process by which this mystery is approached. In other words, a paradox.

There's a recurring character in my books named Telamon, a mercenary of ancient days. Telamon doesn't say much. He rarely gets hurt or wounded. And he never seems to age. His view of the profession of arms is a lot like my conception of art and the artist:

"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,273 reviews
Profile Image for Aaron Goldfarb.
Author 12 books45 followers
April 23, 2011
“This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.”

--Marcus Aurelius

I am not a rereader of books. I prefer to try the new as opposed to revisiting the old. But there are two books I reread every year, that are constantly with me, both in physical form and on my mind. The first is Marcus Aurelius's stoic masterpiece on how to live a life, "The Meditations." The best thing ever written in my opinion. The second is Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art," a brief manifesto on how to "break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles." This book has helped me immensely in my own writing output.

This week sees the release of the companion manifesto to "The War of Art," the second Domino Project release "Do the Work."

In "War of Art," Pressfield introduced the idea of The Resistance, that unexplainable inner force that prevents us from accomplishing things. Something we all suffer from, yes, but something some of us are better at managing.

I met so many people on my 30 Bars in 30 Days book tour who had their own apparent dreams of writing a novel. They'd see my book and go, "A self-hurt guide? Ha. I don't need to buy that. I could have written that!"

And, I'd always snap back, "Well you didn't. I did."

They couldn't have written it. Because they'd also wonder: “So, how long’d it take to write HOW TO FAIL?” When they found the answer was several years of intense effort, you could see the look of fear and self-doubt and mercy in their eyes. They would never do that work. Too much Resistance to overcome. Too much lack of immediate gratification. Too unreasonable to write that long with no road map laid out, with no potential reward.

I know other writers, good writers, that just can't quite finish things. They have 90% of a manuscript, 95% of a screenplay, but they're frozen with an inability to complete the work. It's not perfect. It's not good enough. It could suck. It could flop. It's not "ready." What does that even mean? It's means The Resistance is defeating them. It means they are being too rational. "Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego," says Pressfield.

It's too easy to think how utterly ridiculous it is to write a novel or make a movie or start a company or even get six-pack abs. No one you know does these things so you become an outlier amongst your friends and family for even attempting them. You become a source of mockery even for having such outlandish dreams.

Thus, we are forced to become unconscious in our own work if we have these unreasonable dreams. "Let the unconscious do its work," say Pressfield. I do this through irrational confidence in the future success of my work. And by drinking. No better way to release the unconscious, to be irrational, to silence The Resistance in me than by popping a few beers or nursing a few glasses of bourbon.

(Yeah, I know this is unorthodox thinking, I doubt the fine Mr. Pressfield endorses it, but it works for me, and I've written two more books than 99% of you.)

Pressfield wants to encourage us to release this "second self, an unlived you" from inside of us. The second self that wants to write books, make movies, etc. but keeps convincing himself otherwise for the most silly and rational reasons.

"Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur's indispensable allies." Again, drinking helps get that ignorance and arrogance released, just like the sauced lout hitting on every pretty thing at the bar, thinking he's as suave as George Clooney.

"Don't think. Act." Drink some more. "Get your idea down on paper. You can always tweak it later." Drink. Then start writing.

Be impetuous. Drink. Quit having an inner critic that judges you, that prevents you from doing things. Drink. And become impervious to it all.

Work isn't pretty. Writing and creating art is just as primitive as hoeing fields. Pressfield says it's "better to be primitive than sophisticated, and better to be stupid than smart." Drink, drink, drink and you'll be pretty damn primitive and stupid eventually. Pressfield uses the indelible image of a women giving birth:

"The hospital room may be spotless and sterile, but birth itself will always take place amid chaos, pain, and blood."

To produce work we have to get dirty, we have to have this killer instinct, focusing only on the work at hand and the joy in creating it, and ignoring every inner and outer voice of resistance around us. "The War of Art" laid the ground work for tackling Resistance, "Do the Work" gives you the road-map. And, I'd add, a few drinks will give you the courage to slay the dragon of Resistance.

"Do the Work" is free on Kindle until May 20 so I'd pick that up now, but I'd also grab "The War of Art." I think that's a better overall book and a better place to start conquering The Resistance. Both these books could be knocked off over this weekend (perhaps while having a few drinks). No better time to start than the present. Then, on Monday, you can begin doing your own work.
Profile Image for Sarah Wolfe.
275 reviews50 followers
May 10, 2011
I really disliked this book. It's written from a very flawed (though perhaps redeemable) worldview containing obvious and repetitive ideas. (He also really needs to look up 'protean' in a thesaurus.)
While I'd hoped to get a little boost from this and perhaps recommend it to friends, I'll be giving it a wide berth. It's a piece of corny writing that would better be summed up thus: JUST DO IT.
In short, go do the work and don't waste an hour on this thing.
Profile Image for Todd Russell.
Author 5 books105 followers
April 30, 2011
This book read like I was sitting through a bad motivational speech complete with Powerpoint slides and spam-laced marketing buzzwords (the gigantic font words intended to drill the points into my brain). I have enjoyed other motivational books but this one didn't work for me. The concept was promising: motivate people to finish projects (books, movie scripts, etc), but the execution was off. Despite not drinking the Kool-aid I still adhered to the "just get it finished" message and am shipping my mini-review.
Profile Image for Daniel Swensen.
Author 15 books94 followers
July 6, 2013
I think this should be required reading for any creative person who has found themselves wracked with self-doubt. Invaluable.
Profile Image for Sanjay Gautam.
222 reviews440 followers
May 13, 2020
Resistance is within you, but it's not you. Resistance is the dragon, and you are the knight.
Profile Image for 7jane.
678 reviews256 followers
March 20, 2021
NOTE: if you haven’t yet read Melville’s “Moby Dick”, this book has spoilers of its plot. The book uses that book’s plot as an example for a creative project’s progress.

At first this book might seem to be not that great – so, the basic idea is just ‘do the work’ and now it has been spread over a slim book to fill the space enough? But reading it I found it to be more than that. The notes I made about the progress from start to middle (in two parts) to end confirm that there’s more to it than the main idea.

This book is a walk through a long-form project (esp. creative but applicable to many other projects like starting a restaurant, improving your health, growing in spiritual life, ending bad habits and addictions, keeping relationships going, activism and resistance of tyranny, etc.). At the end the book comments on the other cover for this book, Van Gogh’s drawing ‘Man with Hoe’, but you can find what it looks like online (and in other art sources you might have)

One enemy that occurs throughout the progress is what the author calls the Resistance (mental opposition in the form of fears, self-doubt, procrastination, distraction, shyness, selfishness, self-loathing, perfectionism…). The allies are less-grouped by findable (like faith in the process, persistence, ‘stupidity’, those who believe in us, etc.).

There is three parts to the project: Start (do it without finished preparation, line the plot quickly and go), Middle (filling the gaps, recording ideas, researching)
- with two crisis points that might occur more than once: THE WALL, when the Resistance especially attacks; and THE BIG CRASH of sudden, unnoticed-before, failure, from which one can learn something
- and then The End where you need the Courage to finish and let yourself be ‘exposed’, and get over the final attacks of the Resistance.

So: this slim book is more than just the idea and words spread to make the book – there’s some good depths to it. Worth reading, and more than once.
Profile Image for Scott.
25 reviews
April 23, 2011
There wasn't anything earth-shattering in this book. I've received bits and pieces of it from many different sources. With that said I was inspired reading it. The author's energy is contagious. There were several passages that really hit home, like Test Number One: How bad do you want it -- something I ask myself everyday. This quick read is like a can of Red Bull, it gave me wings. I highlighted many parts and will refer back to it in the future when I need a pick-me-up, especially when I crash again. But right now I'm a knight facing my dragon.
Profile Image for Sepinood Ghiami.
121 reviews13 followers
October 30, 2018
امتیازهای گودریدز بعضی وقت‌ها این‌طوری گولم می‌زنن. اصلا پیشنهاد نمی‌کنم.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 7 books55.1k followers
July 13, 2016
I loved Pressfield's excellent follow-up to The War of Art because in it he precisely pegs the particular forms of Resistance I'm prone to as a writer. (Research as resistance, anyone?)

If you enjoyed The War of Art I highly recommend moving on to Do the Work.
Profile Image for Krystal Williams.
15 reviews11 followers
March 4, 2013
I read this book about a year after reading The War of Art, and I found it to be a wonderful refresher about Resistance.

While this book is excellent, it does lack the depth of The War of Art. The War of Art explains the concept of Resistance in scandalous detail, while Do the Work does not. Instead, Do the Work is, according to Pressfield, "about getting off your behind and starting something." Therefore, I do not recommend it as a standalone. I don’t believe that the reader will get as much value out of reading this without having read The War of Art. So, read The War of Art first, and then read this, either immediately afterwards, or several months down the road as a quick refresher.

Do the Work is a very short read. It could probably be read in less than two hours. Pressfield’s writing is forceful and succinct, never letting up, gripping you, challenging you, empowering you, and spurring you on.

He drops gems of advice, such as, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

Do the Work is the kind of book that helps transform passions and dreams into reality. Read The War of Art, then read Do the Work.

Then go do your work.

Profile Image for Rosa.
Author 4 books7 followers
April 24, 2011
Do the Work is one of those short, "Here's a helpful kick in the butt, so you won't feel you're all alone" kind of books. You can breeze through it in one sitting to know what it's about (as I did yesterday evening), and then keep it on your Kindle to go back to whenever you do need that kick instead of wallowing in any "Woe is me" waste of time. Lord knows we all need that kick sometimes.

This particular kick focuses on giving the reader a how-to push through their own resistance and lack of confidence when facing a work project.

Short books can be the hardest ones to write well, and I think Pressfield did a great job with this one. His coaching can be applied to much more than writing (his area of expertise), however it really is perfect for writing in particular. Very timely for me, since I'm currently within "the belly of the beast" with a writing project of my own.
Profile Image for Brent Mair.
262 reviews6 followers
December 29, 2013
Steven Pressfield's short book is a brief reminder that we need to work through the many things that stop us from being productive and creative and complete what we are doing. He frames adversity in such a way that I am able to have more courage as I press on as a writer and aspiring influencer.

At the moment of this review it is free on Amazon's Kindle. I read it on my computer and iPhone.

Read on Kindle in 2011. Listened to on Audible in 2011.
Listened on Audible on August 13, 2012
Profile Image for Abhishek Kona.
238 reviews6 followers
July 16, 2018
Barely a book, mostly a poster with collection of slogans.

I do not remember anything I read from it. SKIP
Profile Image for Nadia Awadi.
188 reviews246 followers
March 17, 2020
It called me on my shit, and for that : 3.5 stars. It was too short for a 4-star-rating.
7 reviews10 followers
August 27, 2011
I understand what he's going for and everything, but I completely and totally disagree with about 90% of his arguments and recommendations. I understand overstating a concept to make a point, and everything, but I had a deep, visceral reaction to the vast majority of his claims. Clearly, I am not the person this book was written for, and that's fine. To his credit, Pressfield does acknowledge that his methods are not for everyone, and if we want to vehemently disagree, more power to us, as long as we're still doing something. Which I can respect. Food for thought, at least. Probably better for a very different personality type than mine. And clearly well-written enough to be provocative in a productive way, so probably worth reading, if only to examine your own ideas about creativity and productivity.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,823 reviews108 followers
February 2, 2016
This slight book (really an essay) is a swift kick in the butt. If you have a project, any project, and find yourself procrastinating, this little book is a wonderful guide to help you get going. It has wonderful nuggets like, "Start before you're ready." There is nothing totally new in this book, but I found the concise advice and tips very useful, and this quick read is akin to having a personal trainer help give you the push you need to get better at whatever it is that you are trying to do. I have no doubt that I will re-read this as often as needed.
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 3 books55 followers
February 15, 2017
I was in the middle of a writing project.
I needed to read this book. I needed the kick in the pants to keep going despite the doubt and fear. I needed the insight it gave about creating my plot. Recommended to anyone starting a big, scary project or just staring at a blank canvas.
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,184 reviews1,064 followers
July 23, 2015
I really like Pressfield's motivational books, and for me they work as a good kick in the pants when I need one (i.e. frequently). At the same time, I'm not at all sure I actually buy into his basic premise (spoiler: this means I think it's a crock of shit)

"We've been conditioned to imagine that the darkness that we see in the world and feel in our own hearts in only an illusion [but] There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us."

However, while I think this is a load of shit, I do find it an incredibly useful framework with which to fight negative thoughts and procrastination. Problem: I want to lie in bed all day. Solution: No, I don't, that's Resistance trying to fool me, I really want to get up and do stuff. Resistance functions as Descartes' evil demon: "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me."

So, question: is this a healthy framework, to position Resistance as something external? Or would I be better to embrace the non-achieving parts of me as also human, and worth caring for?
Profile Image for Derek.
133 reviews
May 23, 2019
When Shia LaBeouf screams "Just do it!" into a camera, you have 2 thoughts:
1) This person is certifiably insane.
2) I should probably just do it.

This book is like that. Good kick in the pants, 2 or 3 practical tips that are worth the read, but I found myself distracted by the crazy guy in the room.
Profile Image for Ethan.
87 reviews5 followers
March 6, 2015
It's hard for me to figure out who would enjoy or at least benefit from this book. It's slight, with lots of typography size and position manipulation, the sort of thing your mother might pick up as an impulse on checkout from the greeting card store. You get all the requisite bulleted and numbered lists, mantras, and other supposedly short themes you're supposed to remember in daily life. But to what end? The general theme is that it's more productive just to get started on a project than to research it, think about, or otherwise procrastinate. Okay. But the examples seem to be about overcoming writer's block, which might be fine for writers, but things fall flat when Pressfield attempts to extend the thinking and techniques to structured business or even personal projects.
Profile Image for Alisa.
27 reviews5 followers
April 25, 2011
As a BzzAgent I got to read this book and review it. It was a really fast read, only took me an hour. It is a motivational book to get you going on any project that you may have for yourself. It talks about resistance and all the things that hold us back from accomplishing our goals. The book gives endless examples of book writing goals. I felt that this book was written for authors and not for me. I was not motivated to do anything. I gave it 2 stars on Good Reads. The Kindle edition of Do the Work is currently free on Amazon.com till May 20th thanks to the Domino Project and GE.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,377 reviews467 followers
February 19, 2022
This is okay as a little bag of wisdom nuggets for writers. For example, popping the champagne when you send out a manuscript, not just when your novel is published. My problem with this book is the author's conceit that his advice applies to any endeavor: starting a non-profit, leading a country, improving your health, etc. For these areas, his admonition to be stupid, ignorant and arrogant is not helpful. We have way too much of all that already. That's not a dearth we need to address. What we need is more research before action--that is to say, precisely the opposite of what he suggests. He knows this is true, because he lists a couple of exceptions to his rules, like building a boat. In other words, if you're doing anything that has an objective function in the real world, especially if it could kill people if it doesn't work right, maybe you should know what you are talking about before you open your mouth to sell it.
Profile Image for SeyedMostafa Meshkati.
49 reviews19 followers
December 25, 2020
کتاب بیشتر شامل مجموعه ای از بکن/نکن ها بود با تم انگیزشی! کلا چیزی رو با رویکرد علمی و آزمایش و اینجور چیزا جلو نبرده بود و بیشتر تفکرات و ایده های نویسنده بودن که به قول خودش احتمالا به کمک « کائنات » تو ذهنش اومدن. از این نظر به نظرم این بخش ها خیلی ارزش خوندن نداشت
اما چند تا پرکتیس خوب و یکی دوتا جمله که بتونی بنویسی جایی برای تلنگر داشت، و چون حجمش کم بود ( حدود ۱۰۰ صفحه ) شاید از این نظر خوندنش خیلی وقت تلف کردن به حساب نیاد.
کل حرف کتاب هم ظاهرا این هست که دست به کار شید و کارهاتون رو عقب نندازید و نسبت به اون مقاومت درونی ای که توتون هست واکنش نشون بدید، اما خب همین حرف کتاب هم خیلی شدنی نیست. همین قضیه رو خیلیا با آزمایش نشون دادن که نمی‌شه همیشه در برابر این به اصطلاح مقاومت وایساد و نیروی اراده مون ظرفیتی داره.

در کل بیشتر به درد همین سمینارای انگیزشی تیپیکال می‌خوره.
Profile Image for Arash.
40 reviews15 followers
October 7, 2021
اصلا ارزش وقت ،انرژی و پولتون رو نداره
قبلا به این نتیجه رسیده بودم که کلا به پیشنهاد های نیویورک تایمز توجه نکنم و هر کتابی که روش زده بود پر فروش نیویورک تایمز نخرم
الآن به این نتیجه هم رسیدم آقای سث گودین خان یا هر کس دیگه ای هم پیشنهاد داد که فلان کتاب رو بخونم اتفاقا با وسواس بیشتری برم سمتش
خلاصه که این کتاب یسری مطالب درهم برهمه که واقعا نمیدونم نویسنده اصلا لب کلامش چی بوده؟
به خدا که کتابای انگیزشی و زرد صد شرف دارن به این
و جالبه که چرا پنگونیو اینو چاپ و ترجمه کرده؟
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books269 followers
December 2, 2019
Колкото и главни букви и удивителни знаци да слага Стивън Пресфийлд в тая тъничка книжица, не може да избяга от факта, че тя не е нищо повече от мотивираща "реч" без никакво друго покритие освен "Направи го!". Мнооого мотивиращо.
Profile Image for Brittany Barden.
6 reviews51 followers
August 6, 2018
Read this book in under 45 minutes. I love that the design of the book facilitates the message of the book... don't overthink, just do the work. Well worth the read.
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