"There's no mystery to turning pro. It's a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that." - Steven Pressfield
For this week's Monday Motivation, I share a passage from Steven Pressfield's essential book for creatives and artists, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.
"The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of his first child. With one stroke, everything changes. I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after.
To be clear: When I say professional, I don't mean doctors and lawyers, those of the 'professions.' I mean the Professional as in ideal. The professional in contrast to the amateur. Consider the differences.
The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it's his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.
The word amateur comes from the Latin root meaning 'to love.' The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does it for money. Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. if he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his 'real' vocation.
The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.
Someone once asked Somerset Maugham 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 none o'clock sharp.'
Maugham reckoned another, deeper truth: that by performing the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work, he set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration, as surely as if the goddess had synchronized her watch this his.
He knew if he built it, she would come."
The War of Art is a short read that is well worth your time if you are intent pursuing a career as an artist, a good jolt of real talk to wake you up from creative stupor. It's consistently in lists of recommended reading for artists for a reason. You can buy the Kindle version here.