People love Star Wars and people love Yoda and I’m not exactly here to rain on anyone’s parade but you know what?

Do or do not. There is no try” is wrong.

Yeah, I said it.

I’ve seen the movie a couple of times, but if you haven’t: in this scene, Luke is trying to use the Force to get his spaceship out of the swampy area/thing. 

Luke doubts himself and he doubts Yoda because obviously lifting a spaceship out of a swamp by wiggling your fingers in an air-high 5 seems pretty impossible. 

And I think what Yoda’s saying is “If you don’t believe you can do it, you definitely won’t be able to do it.”

I get that part.

But… there IS most definitely TRY—and try and fail.

Even when you believe you can do something. (Which is exactly what happens, BTW. Because Luke fails and the spaceship remains in the swamp thingy until Yoda lifts it out for him.)

Maybe Yoda should have said, “Commit or commit not. There is no… kinda committing.”

But even that’s not quite it. When we’re trying to do something incredibly difficult, sometimes we do quit and then return to it later and commit again. That’s part of the road to “DO.”

And FURTHERMORE. YODA. Within the difference between “do or do not” and “commit or commit not” lies the WHOLE REASON people give up.


If you love “do or do not” and it inspires you, great. Like I said, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade… exactly

But for me, it equates accomplishment with “constant, unrelenting, forward progress.” They’re not the same thing.

You can accomplish without growing, constructing, striving, or conquering.

And when it comes to writing, if you equate “accomplishment” with “forward progress” you cut off your access to the tools you need to create the thing you actually want to create.

Because when it comes to writing, exploring is an accomplishment. Experimenting is an accomplishment

Sitting down to write can make you feel good, even if you don’t like what you’ve produced. And that experience of feeling good is an accomplishment.

People always want to talk about regimens and willpower and how some people just seem to be able to stick to things while other people are lazy.

But the ability to stick with things lies in finding a way to love the thing you’re doing so you keep doing it. And to be able to untangle that process from a product that you are dead set on.


PS: I hate Yoda’s “do or do not” advice so much that I created Writer’s Cave, which happens every Wednesday at 12 pm PT on Zoom. If you’ve bought my book, you have access. You can find the Zoom link in your email.

If you want access to a place where accomplishment is not the same thing as constant, pressurized, unrelenting progress – join Writer’s Cave. It comes with my book, Be About SomethingGet it here.

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