Being a Pro

Before I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art I was proud of my amateur status as a writer.  Being an amateur, I could be a lover of the art and not a hack.  I was free.  I could do what I wanted, and not what others wanted, or expected me to do.  Being an amateur felt cleaner, freer.

Here’s how Pressfield defines the Professional (in any field):

Pros show up every day.

Pros show up no matter what.

Pros stay on the job all day.

Pros are committed over the long haul.

For Pros, the stakes are high and real.

Pros accept remuneration for their labor.

Pros do not overidentify with their jobs.

Pros master the technique of their jobs.

Pros have a sense of humor about their jobs.

Pros receive praise or blame in the real world.

On the other hand,  here’s how he describes amateurs:

They don’t show up every day.

They don’t show up no matter what.

They don’t stay on the job all day

They are not committed over the long haul.

For them the stakes are illusory and fake.

They do not get money.

They overidentify with their art.

They do not have a sense of humor about failure.

They have not mastered the technique of their art.

They do not expose themselves to judgment in the real world.

When I read this section (taken practically verbatim from page 69-71) I thought:

I don’t want to be an amateur!  I want to show up no matter what and master the technique and be open to praise and blame and commit over the long haul. I want to battle the demon called Resistance.  I want to be a warrior, not a wussy amateur.

I want to be a Pro.

And I have committed to that today.

3 thoughts on “Being a Pro

    1. To over identify with your art would be to mistake yourself for your creation; to think that your creation is YOU, rather than what came *through* you. (Like actors complaining about how people often mistake them for the characters they portray: “No, I’m not Batman, dude. I just *play* Batman on TV.”)
      Pressfield’s point was that when you overidentify with your art you risk thinking your “the shit”when your art is praised; and thinking you’re a failure when it’s criticized.


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