Becoming a Pro

Cover of "The War of Art: Break Through t...

Cover via Amazon

In Steven Pressfield‘s book The War of Art, he writes:

The professional loves it [doing his calling] so much he dedicates his life to it.

He commits full-time.

I know I am an amateur. And, I mean the word amateur in the true sense of the Latin root meaning “to love”. To love part-time, to love on the weekends, to love when the mood hits (which it rarely does), to love to talk about it, to love to talk about doing it, but, not doing any of the work. The pro does the work. The pro may not get paid, but the pro does the work.

I don’t want to be an amateur anymore. I want to go pro.

I read Pressfield’s book in a day. In three hours to be exact. It is a very easy read, and if you feel like you need something to kick you in the ass, to get you to the canvas, the paper, the drawing board of whatever it is you dream of doing you should read this book.
It is about what is stopping us from what we love. What stops us is resistance and it comes in all kinds of recognizable forms. I felt a little bit like he was calling me out as I was reading the book, like he was saying, “and just look at you now, reading another book about how to be a writer when really you should be writing, and that’s how you become a writer”. Like getting called on your shit with some tough love that said, “you are not where you want to be because you haven’t worked to get there”.

I can honestly say that I have worked to get there, but not all the way, and not all the time. Not with the diligence, and with the most important thing when it comes to working, the discipline. When I was in college I did my work. When I was in a play I did my work. When I had to have something presentable for someone, like teaching a workshop or working on a project with another person, I worked. But, I’ve rarely worked for me. Just for me. It took me about ten years from start to finish to write my first novel. I could have done it in a third of the time. Not that anyone cares about time because they don’t. How can you care about something that you don’t even know exists. And that’s my problem. If someone doesn’t want it or demand it for something they want I don’t think it is important. If it’s my idea, my heart, my creation then I put it on the back burner because who cares. That is an amateur.

I’m meant to be a writer. Just like I was meant to be an actress. They are my callings. My gifts (I also believe I was meant to be a dancer, but I’m going to go ahead and keep that on the amateur level). Many people have the same gifts, but how we use our gifts how we share and how we express ourselves with our gifts, well that part is all unique and individual. So, since I have these gifts that are mine, and absolutely unique to me, I’m going to go pro with them because I owe them and myself that honor and that gratitude.
Now, just because I’m going pro it doesn’t mean that I’m going to get paid. I may never get paid, but that is not up to me. There are only three things that I need to do. 1) Go to work every day. Yes my writing unpaid and unknown is my work. 2) When something is done I am required to share it. Sharing is part of the professional process. You have to put it out there and collaborate with your team of other professionals. 3) Let it go. If there are rewards or there is money, and a job, then thank the stars! But, it isn’t my job to make myself famous or rich, my job is to write and to put it out there, and that I can do.

I’m a big talker, and and even bigger procrastinator. I’m just going to stop doing that. End of story. So, this morning I woke up around 8:00 a.m. and did my yoga, and meditation (a discipline I’ve managed to keep up for the past month) went and ate breakfast, then I shut my door and I set my timer for two hours, and decided, “I don’t care if I don’t write! I’m not leaving this desk for the next two hours so I better write something!” And, I did. I pulled out an old project idea and I started working on it again. I had decided to take Henry Miller‘s advice and only work on one thing at a time. I want to write this project (it’s a play) and I wont start anything else till its done.

And you know what happened? I went into the flow. You know what it is— it is the time that flies because you are doing what you love, and that is happiness.
When the alarm went off. I stopped what I was doing and felt good. It was 1:00 p.m. and I didn’t have any obligations because the day was mine, and I worked!

As a little side note, today was my day off from the job that pays, so in order to write I will need to start getting up a lot earlier, but I have a job to do, so I’ll be there at the desk 7:00 a.m. Writing or not I’ll be here.

When you can’t create you can Work

— Henry Miller

Henry Miller, photographed by Carl Van Vechten...

Henry Miller, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1940 Jan. 22 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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