I know I’m in trouble when I haven’t posted to my blog in a while. I can feel the wall of resistance rising higher and higher. My inner voice chatters away: “For godssakes, write a new blog post. Something. Anything. Panic. What should I write about? What is important enough? Paralysis.”
Download FREE No Idling, the companion PDF. It’s 30 inspiring stories of individuals who Do the Work.
And I’m a “blogging expert.” So this procrastination borders on the ridiculous. I can usually talk myself down off the cliff: “Not every blog post needs to be brilliant. Nor does it need to be long. Just be useful. Include a few links. You’re not trying to change the world with every post. It’s the long haul that matters, etc.”
The Domino Project’s Do the Work
Luckily, there is another weapon against this kind of resistance that is instantly available if you have a Kindle. It was a free download until May 20, 2011. After that, the regular Kindle price kicked in. It’s Do the Work, the new book by best-selling author Steven Pressfield and the second title to come out of Seth Godin’s new publishing venture, The Domino Project.*
It’s under 100 pages, a fast read – and hugely thought provoking. I can’t recommend it enough, particularly if you are a writer or speaker. The central point, not surprisingly, is that Resistance (yes, spelled with a capital R in the book) is part of the process of doing the work. It’s just there. It happens to everyone. You are not special if your habit is to think up a thousand ways to Procrastinate, which deserves a capital P. (Thank you, Pam Slim.)
Nor are you alone if sitting down to write is torture. As Steven puts it, Resistance is universal, impersonal, invisible, insidious and plays for keeps.
Start before you are ready
So how to get around it? Well, this little book has some marvelous tips. My favorites:
– Start before you are ready. Stop doing research and just start writing.
– Start at the end and work backwards (screenwriters do this).
– Get the whole thing down, fast, on ONE sheet of paper.
Steve offers some specific tips for how to do this: Use a three-act structure. Act 1 is what will hook the reader, what pulls people in. Act 2 is the meat of the material, the twists and turns. Act 3 gives you the payoff. And of course don’t forget to answer the BIG QUESTION: what is this about? What is the theme?
He gives some clever examples in the book of how to get it down on one sheet, including a quick analysis of Facebook and the Vietnam Memorial. And a more detailed look at Moby Dick on one sheet.
I love this book. Thank you, Steve, for letting me know that I’m not alone with my insecurities about writing. And that there are ways to push through.
* Full disclosure: I am a member of the Domino Street Team, a small group of Seth fans from around the world who congregate on a private Facebook page and think up cool ways to promote The Domino Project books.