The War of Art – Why It’s So Important To Be A Professional

Continuing The War of Art Series, this post looks at the psychological shift that happens and the internal protection that is offered when you decide that you are a Professional.

“It is one thing to study war, and quite another to live the warrior’s life,” – Telamon of Arcadia, Mercenary, 5 BC 

Turning Pro has had one of the biggest impacts of my life, for me it’s right up there with having children. Before my life as it is now I worked as a qualified professional in a professional profession, but I still wasn’t a professional. I didn’t live and breathe accountancy like maybe I should have. Writing was a hobby, something that I enjoyed doing when I had a spare moment, I loved it and it seemed to love me. Eventually I wanted to publish it all but at the time it was enough to know that it was there.

When I changed my life it still took me a while to actually realise that I was a writer. I struggled to believe that this was now who I was and obviously all of the inner confidence, belief and kahunas that comes with that. But when I read, about two months ago, that to be a professional writer you simply need to look at yourself in the mirror and say I’m a professional writer, the change then took place immediately.

All of a sudden I was a writer that did other things as well. I began to get serious about this blog, committing to write a post every day. I started to build a social media platform in earnest. I drew up a publishing plan that helped me to work out what I needed to do and when. I sent one of the books out to beta-readers. I began to edit another book. In simple terms, I’m now on it.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield states a number of assets that you gain by being a professional. You gain patience, you seek order to your work, you concentrate on technique over art, you act despite fear, you accept no excuses, you are prepared, you do not show off, you are dedicated, you don’t take failure personally, you endure adversity, you self-validate. None of these sound particularly fun, but that’s the point, it’s work not fun.

As soon as I had this shift in my own mind I felt a coming together of my soul. All of a sudden I knew deep down in my gut that this was the point of me. I could sit on my own for days creating made up nonsense and not get lonely. I don’t feel like I’m alone because of the characters in my head. Becoming a professional turns on the light and carries you along.

Here are some good quotes from the book:

Somerset Maugham was asked if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration, “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

“There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our mind to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.”

Can you identify with this decision, and what did you feel when you changed?


6 responses to “The War of Art – Why It’s So Important To Be A Professional

  1. Spot on Mike. Going ”pro” is too often defined as ”earning money”, rather than your approach and attitude to something.

    I said to Nay (my wife for the benefit of others) a couple of months ago, ”I want to a landscape photographer”. She said ”you are a landscape photographer”. I was like duh! The ”professional” was implicit, but it’s much more important to think of yourself as the pro rather than something that might happen some day.

    All of the things you have mentioned have followed (not all from that moment of lucidity of course!). Set-up my website and blog, more disciplined and prolific image making, become more organised and determined in what I was doing, and felt like when I was doing something it was with purpose not as purely a hobby or distraction.

    There is a major shift in mindset from something so seemingly simple that is a very powerful motivational force.

  2. Pingback: The War of Art – How To Overcome Resistance | Michael J Holley – Writer

  3. Cheers Mike! If you click on my name above it should take you there (now that I’ve updated my my account) or you can find it here:

    Ta 🙂

  4. I found something similar elsewhere and really found it helpful. Some more of this please! Thanks

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