Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Pressfield and Procrastination

Written by: on December 6, 2023

Most of us live two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
~Steve Pressfield

The back cover of this book asks a question that I yelled “YES” as an answer! YES, I dream about writing the Great American Novel! Now that I’ve cleared that up…how do I move from dreaming about it to doing it? I was hoping that this book would provide a road map. It did not! It did, however, help me to see the areas that are holding me back in not just this goal but a few goals. Apparently, Resistance is what is keeping me from reaching my goals.


I was eager to understand how resistance was contributing to my procrastination. Actually, I also really wanted to know how they differed. I am sure that I have at least two novels waiting to come out. Pressfield offers, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”(1) Although his reference to wannabe writers seems a bit harsh, Pressfield may have a point. Perhaps the thing that is stopping us is simply not starting. This may be equivalent to something that my Daddy used to say, “Showing up is half the battle!” or in this case, sitting down is half the battle. Pressfield explains it as, “resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that what it takes to deceive you.”(2) Resistance is the thing that tells you that you can’t do it, it is the self-imposed obstacle. I instantly began to think about what fuels resistance.

Resistance and Rationalization

I am not surprised that, “Resistance is Fear”(3). It seems that many ugly and counter-productive things stem from fear. Pressfield goes deeper with this, he says, “Resistance doesn’t want us to do this. So, it brings in Rationalization. Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor.” (4) We began to rationalize all the reasons that we shouldn’t complete a project or can’t go any further with a task. It actually is a frightening realization at how gifted I am at rationalizing my mediocrity or lack of motivation. He continues, “Instead of showing us our fear (which might shame us and impel us to do our work), Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn’t do our work.”(5)

A Critter that Keeps Coming

I wanted to understand Resistance and how it manifests in our lives. It’s a hard concept for me to grasp because I have been trained to see procrastination as the thing that stands in my way, and I think of the word Resistance in a completely different context. Resistance, for me, has meant an organized way to combat an injustice. Pressfield introduces it as something that only exists because we give it power. I had to wrap my mind around that. He says, “Because Resistance is a bully. Resistance has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it. A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.”(6) He suggests that we have the power to defeat resistance by changing our behavior, our habits. He gives us this advice, “When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.”(7) I think he may have given me a solution! I must develop a routine of writing daily to achieve my goal of giving the world The Great American Novel. The Resistance that I have entertained and welcomed to return day after day must be stripped of its power. The fear of failing must be met with drive to fulfill my dream. Hmmm…where does wifedom, motherhood, doctoral life, preaching life and consulting all fit in that picture? I am praying my way through all aspects of these roles, I guess I need to add novel writing to the list and put the pen to the paper. More to come, Loved Ones!

1.Steven Pressfield, The War of Art (New York, NY: Black Irish Entertainment, 2012).Intro.
2. Ibid.,9.
3. Ibid.,55.
4. Ibid.,55.
5. Ibid.,55.
6. Ibid.,99.
7. Ibid.,108.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

13 responses to “Pressfield and Procrastination”

  1. mm John Fehlen says:

    WHEN (notice I didn’t say IF) you write that great American novel will you please weave in the storyline of a fellow graduate degree student that helped you zip up the back zipper on your dress, while in Oxford, England?

    Don’t mention me by name.

    I prefer the pseudonym: Juan Pablo.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      It was a cold Oxford night. As Juan Pablo approached the dorm room door, he was startled by the flickering light in the hallway. He lightly tapped the door, “Lola…are you there? Do you need my help?”

      Okay…I’ll stop there! ( :

  2. mm Tim Clark says:

    I remember when I first read this book and encountered the advice to ‘write daily’ and while I haven’t yet crossed that threshold, as we near the half-way mark of our doctorate, I’m convinced that is GREAT advice (if only I could win against the resistance keeping me from it).

    I loved your personal take on this and your transparency in sharing your writing dream, Jonita. Thanks

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hey Tim,

      If only I could write daily. That’s the goal, my friend. I always feel like I have to set the right writing conditions. I have to have the right teacup, the right leggings, the right background music…I create crazy smoke screens. I am quite gifted at it.

  3. Jennifer Vernam says:

    So…. am I the only one who wants to know what the two novels are going to be about? Don’t keep us in suspense, Jonita!

  4. Esther Edwards says:

    “It actually is a frightening realization at how gifted I am at rationalizing my mediocrity or lack of motivation.” You and me both, Jonita!
    I’ll be looking for your novel on Amazon down the road.

  5. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Jonita,

    I love this “Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    You quoted…Because Resistance is a bully. Resistance has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it. A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.”

    James 4: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you

    Pressfield struck a nerve, when he started on “Resistance Recruits Allies” He goes on to say Resistance by definition is self-sabotage. …He writes, “….provides immediate and powerful gratification…Resistance gets a big kick out of that. It knows it has distracted us with a cheap, easy fix and kept us from doing our work….It goes without saying that this principle applies to drugs, shopping, TV, gossip, alcohol, and the consumption of all products containing fat, sugar, salt or chocolate.”

    Guilty as charged.

    Praying you push through on these papers. YOU CAN DO IT!


    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      Resistance is powerful and works along with all of the things that we use to keep us busy. I aide it in many ways by placing false barriers in the way of my writing.

  6. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Jonita,
    Thanks for your insights. I want to hear more about your Great American novel! This statement got me, “Perhaps the thing that is stopping us is simply not starting.” That describes my resistance. For me, it boils down to having a clear mindset and my “to do” list done so I can reflect and think without distraction. That is not happening with my last paper. So resistance is teaching me a new strategy. I take breaks and get one small wedding, baby shower, cleaning, or Christmas task done, and then get back to writing. I am trusting this plan will work. Though it might be a slower process. Happy Christmas!

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      I love that you are learning and adapting through your resistance. You amaze me with your ability to balance it all. Merry Happy Everything, my sweet friend.

  7. Hello Jonita,

    You’ve captured the essence of how Resistance operates as a force that hinders creative endeavors and personal growth. Your analysis of how Resistance manifests in rationalization and fear resonates with many who have experienced its paralyzing effects. Your determination to confront Resistance and develop a routine for your writing is a positive step towards achieving your goals. Keep pushing through, and may your journey toward writing the Great American Novel be a successful one!

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