Write a To Don’t List


I remember reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield for the first time.  It wasn’t a punch in the arm or a swift kick in the behind — it was more like a slap across the face that screamed, “Wake up!  Pay attention!  This is what’s happening!”  Yes, it’s a book about writing but it’s also a no excuses book about living and life.  If you think you’re not quite ready to read it, you really need to because your hesitation is exactly why you need his words.

I’m re-reading selections from this classic, which led me to Pressfield’s blog – new since my last read.  This sentence in a recent post about personal culture caught my attention,

One of the things a culture does for us is it lays out the actions and behaviors that someone “like us” would do or not do.

Steven Pressfield

Advice is often about what to do and Pressfield has made an important distinction that forces us to get specific in our writing practice.  It’s not just the things we do, the things we don’t do also affect our writing.  For the list makers like me, consider it a “to don’t” list.

I am in the throes of the fall submission cycle and it’s easy to by distracted by shiny, urgent, yet unimportant, irrelevant things.  I’ve given Pressfield’s advice some thought and have since armed myself with my to don’t list.  How about you?  What’s on your to don’t list?


    1. My guess is that Pressfield would say that the act of defeating Resistance for a day is the task. Doing these X number of things AND not doing these Y number of things in combination is what led to us defeating Resistance. Defeated Resistance today? Well, get out a big marker and check off that box! Unfortunately, standing up to Resistance is a daily, maybe even hourly practice.

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