going-pro

Going pro

Over the last week, I’ve seen a lot of conversation about being professional. In part this was from a writer’s perspective, but it also came up in the broader context of reading Steven Pressfield’s new book, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work, which is a book for “artists, entrepreneurs, and athletes whose ambition is … to pursue their heart’s calling and make it work.”

If I had to pick one role model to follow, I’d be hard pressed not to choose Steven Pressfield. He’s inspiring, practical, and amazing, and a man after my own heart. If I stand for anything, it’s about helping you get out of your own way and do what you were put here to do.

Do the work

What I love about Steven’s work is that he doesn’t say that it will be easy, that you should do what you love and the money will follow, or any of that.

What he says, instead, is that doing the work is hard. That we have to face our fears everyday and get our butts in our seats no matter what to do the work — whatever it is.

Passion is a misnomer

I also read yesterday that passion is a misnomer (I’ve written about this subject before myself). In this guest essay, Joshua Fields Millburn points out:

“Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy every aspect of it.

“In fact, I’ve found the opposite to to be true. While writing my first masterpiece, Falling While Sitting Down, it was a miserable experience 80% of the time. Seriously, much of the time I wanted to put my head through a wall. But the other 20% was magical and exciting and made all the suffering and drudgery well worth it.

“The key is pushing through the tedium of the 80%, so you can find the beauty beneath the banality; it’s there, plentiful in that remaining 20%. You have to tolerate the pain, if you want to pursue your dream.”

Turning pro means being a grown up

When I talked with Elaine yesterday about writing, we agreed with Joshua. Pursuing anything meaningful is hard, a lot of the time. It takes being a grown up and facing the hard sucky parts to get to the other side of completion. It means surfing the waves of pain and self-doubt, sitting on the throne of agony, and doing the work.

It’s time we started telling the truth about that.

Remember, even Ray Kinsella went through his own kind of hell before people came to his field of dreams.

What if we loved even the crummy parts?

And while it’s tempting to pursue one’s calling with the focus on the magical 20% — the epiphanies, sudden insights, and flashy Elvis moments — I can’t help wondering, isn’t it worth it to enjoy ALL of it?

In my post yesterday, I asked you to share your questions for me (which I’m having fun answering — come post one if you haven’t already), and Mary asked, “What’s your story of ‘turning pro?’”

Here’s my answer: The day I turned pro with my writing was the day that I realized that if someone offered me $10,000,000 with the condition that I could never write again, I would turn them down. I knew with incredible conviction that I want to write — I must write — and I will allow nothing to stop me. Not even the bad days where I think I can’t write myself out of a shoebox let alone put a whole script together.

Now the only questions about my writing are: What to write, what to write next, and how to make my writing better and hone my craft. And then what to write after that.

That was the day I turned pro.

When you just can’t do anything else

Steven Pressfield tells a similar story. He talks about how despite his doubts and failures, he knew that he simply couldn’t do anything else but write, and when he tried anything else, he couldn’t stand it. So he had no choice but to keep writing. And he did.

I’m with him.

Bottom line

Dr. Phil talks about making “life decisions.” These are unalterable, no-turning-back decisions where you are all in. To me, that’s what it means to turn pro. What about you?

Your turn

Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.

Warmly,

 Jenna

Coming Attractions

~> July 5th. Last day to register for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle. For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing. http://JustDoTheWriting.com

~> July and August. It’s almost time for the next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group. Are you interested in grabbing a spot before we sell out? Email my team and we’ll put you on the advanced notification list. Find out more at http://LifePurposeBreakthrough.com

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth through ScreenwritingU.

~> September 18 to 20th. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU event to meet with producers and agents.

~> September 21st to 22nd. Staying on in Hollywood for the InkTip Pitch Summit.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Reading Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix with my little boy and Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey on my own. Still in the queue: (500) Days of Summer, Another Earth, and The Day the Earth Stood Still, while we’re finishing up watching Season 2 of Game of Thrones. Amazing! (Yep, I read all the books too.)

 

If someone offered you 10 million dollars with only one small catch, would you take it?

The other day I had an email from a friend about me screenwriting at 6 a.m. every morning. She said, “I admire your discipline. It must come from a deep passion.”

I thought, “Is this passion? Is this discipline? Is that what this is? That doesn’t quite feel right.”

Perhaps this is because I’ve struggled for so long to be clear about what I’m passionate about that the word “passion” has lost meaning for me.

Then, last week I found myself saying to my Writer’s Circle participants how you would have to fight me off with a sword to keep me from writing.

And I thought, “Huh! Passion.”

But the clincher was when I saw Jeanne Bowerman‘s tweet:

I knew my own answer was “No. Way.”

Then I got it. This is beyond reason, it’s beyond passion. It’s a kind of fierceness I never expected.

What shocks me is that this fierceness has been born out of the discipline of writing on a daily basis, not the other way around. And I hesitate to even call it discipline, because there are days when I have to drag myself out of bed with bribes and threats alike. The funny thing is that it’s gotten more scary NOT to write than TO write. 

I didn’t know I would love writing like this. I had no idea until I started doing it regularly. Daily. At ungodly hours.

I’m also fascinated to have discovered that taking a day off or two DOES dwindle this feeling. I find myself drifting and uninspired when I stop.

But as long as I write every day or darn close to it, I’m good.

And I’m doing this by making it a LOT harder NOT to write than it is TO write:

  • I set my clock early. If I don’t get up and write immediately, I’ll miss my chance before my husband goes to work and I’ve got kid duty.
  • I set public goals with my Writer’s Circle EVERY DAY. And they notice if I don’t show up.
  • I have assignments due every day for my ProSeries screenwriting class. And they’re counting to make sure we’re doing the assignments.
  • I’m the coach for the Writer’s Circle too, so I have a responsibility as a role model too.

I’ve got multiple layers of accountability. Plus a healthy fear that if I stop writing, it’ll be hard to get started again. And a fierce belief that I’ve found my true calling.

Your Turn

What does this inspire for you? Let me know on the blog.

*** If you’d like to have this kind of daily accountability for yourself around your writing, join my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle right now. Our next session starts on Monday, January 23rd, and Thursday, January 19th is the last day to register. If you do your part, it will blow your mind. http://JustDoTheWriting.com

 

 Jenna

Coming Attractions

~> Ongoing. My Protection & Grounding Jewelry is on close-out. Only TWO necklaces are left, and then they are gone for good. Find them here.

~> January 23rd, 2012. The next session of my Writer’s Circle starts. Sign up here. Get my Free Writing Tips series too, and receive a coupon for a savings on your first 4 week session.

~> February 2, 2012. Start the new year fresh with your life purpose clear in your mind. My next life purpose breakthrough group session in on February 2. Details. SOLD OUT.

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Writing in the ProSeries class at ScreenwritingU, which was just named the #1 screenwriting class by InkTip.

~> Daily and especially Fridays. Sacred writing time. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Still watching Castle, Season 3, so good. I guess the whole planet really is designed to show off Nathan Fillion’s awesomeness.

Do You “Believe Beyond Reason?”

When Joss Whedon’s sci-fi western television series,Firefly,” was cancelled by the Fox network in 2002, the fans of the show were devastated. But Joss told his actors that he wouldn’t give up and that he would find the show a new home.

Eventually, he found that place with Universal Studios in 2005, where they made a feature length movie called Serenity and resurrected the Firefly story.

Joss says about his movie making, “It’s not to make things people like. It’s never to make things people like. It’s only to make things that they love.”

Refusing to Let It Go

What I love about this story (in addition to loving the show unabashedly), is that Joss was so committed to vision and believed in it so much, that he refused to give up. And his fans and cast did too. Joss says about the experience, “[People] fell in love with it a little bit too much to let it go, too much to lay down arms when the battle looked pretty much lost. In Hollywood, people like that are called ‘unrealistic’ … ‘quixotic’ … ‘obsessive’.”

He seems to be totally okay with that. :)

When he presented the first footage of the movie at San Diego Comic Con, he said to the assembled masses of fans, “This movie should not exist. Failed TV shows don’t get made into major motion pictures unless the creator, the cast, and the fans believe beyond reason.”

Isn’t that the most beautiful turn of phrase?

What Do You Believe Beyond Reason?

What are you so ridiculously over the moon about that it makes you giddy just to think about?

The word passion has become so overused in our culture today, I’m not even sure we know what it means anymore.

To most of us it apparently means something like, “What do you think is a realistic way to make money that you would enjoy doing?”

And while that is a useful question when one is paying one’s bills, it is NOT really the same question as “What are you passionate about?”

Seems to me it’s time to change the question.

Let’s start asking, “What do you BELIEVE BEYOND REASON?”

“What do you believe in so deeply, so permanently, so passionately that you can hardly keep yourself in your skin because you are exploding with joy when you consider it?”

“What brings tears to your eyes when you allow yourself to even just consider the possibility that you might be lucky enough to do it for a single minute of your life?”

Do that. And do it as quick as you can.

Because really, why would we do anything else?

Time’s a wastin.’

Watch Joss’ Introduction Here

Your Turn

I always love hearing from you in the comments on my blog.

 

Jenna