For the past two months, hell for the past 3 decades, every time I sit down in front of computer to create I have to push myself to do it. It’s like a force field or some sort of invisble mind-sucking SciFi monster pushing me away from creating. I can spend all day answering emails, surfing the web, looking for new Mac or iOS apps to buy, doing essentially worthless things. But try and write, try and create, and a truckload of rationalizations, excuses, distractions, emotions and other crap springs out of my screen like some sort of weird airbag.
For months I’ve known StartupToDo.com was deader than the half-eaten lizards one of my cats likes to bring in. I’d even figured out what I need to do to “Pivot” (polite-speak for dumping this baby into the garbage and starting over) and just maybe ship something that people want. And for about the same time I could not bring myself to posting to this blog.
As creatively constipated as I’ve been, there would be days, or at least hours, when I could confront my own Resistance and it would fade for a time. And during that time, I could create, I could have a few brief hours of just being able to make things to have fun we were all promised as children.
So how and why am I writing this?
The how is simple: Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work. Kindle version free at Amazon for another 18 days. It’s my garlic and Star of David to wave in the face of all the rationalizations and excuses Resistance puts in front of me.
When I think, it’s not the best time of day for me to be creating, or that I need to check email again, or I’m too tired, or that I can’t succeed because I’m whatever, or I really should go do this or that instead; when Resistance in its seductive voice whispers, “relax, take it easy, you can do that later, you can’t do it at all” I think of this one short book I’ve read a dozen times. And I pause – is this reality or just Resistance?
Nearly every time, it’s Resistance, that enemy with a thousand faces and 10,000 lies. It will fuck up your head, play on your self-doubts, do what it takes so you can’t do what you can do and create something.
The why is simple too: When you look, really look, at what’s in your way, at the excuses/rationalizations keeping you from creating, they fade. This post is my way of looking at Resistance in the face. One small victory. Think of it as a small note smuggled out to the prisoner in the cell next to mine to not give up hope.
If you’ve read this far, but you haven’t downloaded Do the Work, ask yourself why.
It’s not the cost – it’s free, thanks to a bit of unexpected corporate generousity. It’s not that you can’t read it – you’re reading this, afterall. It’s not that you don’t need any self-help crap, or you’re too busy or you should be doing something important, or you’ll get to it next week, month or year. Unless you are doing this instant the one creative thing that above all else you exist to do, you’ve bought into the same con that derails so many of us.
If you’re pissed off, indignant, angry that I just wasted your time, as yourself why – I’m just some guy with a blog.
The one thing good about Resistance is it’s the ultimate game cheat – the more it pushes you away from something, the more likely that’s what you need to be doing.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update, the book recommendation (read it last week at your suggestion), and the brutal honesty. It takes a lot of courage, but the rest of us benefit from it. It means a lot.

  2. Welcome back, man. There were good parts to StartupToDo.com – you’ll learn from it. You’ll bounce.
    Remember that there are a lot of people – me, for instance – who learn about things like Do the Work and Poke the Box from you … you have a profound and positive effect on people even when you don’t feel like a success.
    You have a lot of people walking with you and cheering you on. I’m one.

  3. I found your book “Micro ISV: From Vision to Reality” a personal “Do the work” motivator, and I’m sure many people found parts of StartupTodo.com useful as well !
    Even if not *huge* successes, your work has still had an impact on lots of people, so I would consider them successes anyway (even if they haven’t made you rich 🙂 )
    I’m looking forward to your next projects – now go and *do the work* 🙂 !!!

  4. Hey Bob,
    Firstly, I began grabbing Do The Work via Kindle with your *first* link, so thank you.
    I honestly liked Start Up To Do. Great idea, clean execution. For me though it was to much to “do”. Which is kind of similar to the issues this post covers.
    Patrick Folley sums up my own sentiments very well, too.

  5. Jesper Mortensen Reply

    Bob,
    As a member of the ‘silent’ group of fans who has your books on my bookshelf, and has used them extensively in my own research and for communicating my realm of work to my loved ones, let me just say: Welcome back. We missed you; and it’s good to hear your voice again.

  6. Bob, I’m so glad I read this post. Thanks for birthing it. I’m sure it was painful, but now it’s out there and making a difference.
    I can totally relate. It feels really good to produce something good, but it takes a lot of work. It’s such a huge, tedious process for me to write because I engineer every sentence and then stare at it for a while. So the resistance fights me the whole way. The only thing that keeps me going is that I know I’ll something worthwhile on the other side.
    I just received a comment on a post I wrote a year ago. As I was reading it, I couldn’t even remember writing it, but I was saying to myself, “Man, this is good stuff.” And that feels good. Maybe that can help you too, look at some of the great stuff you’ve done in the past, and say, “Hey, I can do that again.”
    I think I read somewhere, “Writers like to have written, they don’t necessarily like the process of writing.” That’s exactly how I feel.
    Thanks for ‘Doing the Work’. We’re all in this ‘work’ thing together. And you’re helping.

  7. Thanks, Bob, it’s nice to know that even the great and the good occasionally come to grief on the rocks of creative block.
    Now, if only I could get myself off this blog and back to building my new product…. 😉

  8. Bob,
    Interesting that someone who created a website called “Startup To Do” had problems with his own to-do list! But don’t feel bad, we all have this problem and that’s why we signed up for startuptodo.com in the first place! We all hoped we could somehow get this procrastination problem fixed. Oh well…
    My suggestion: do a post-mortem (if you are really going to kill it) and invite the users to an open discussion/feedback. I still think is a great idea, but as with anything, execution is the killer app.
    Maybe we need to create a ‘founders anonymous association’ with twelve steps for recovery or something! Just kidding… keep up the good work, you’re the best at what you do.

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