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
“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?
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.
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?
Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.
~> 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
~> 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.)