Steven Pressfield Is Getting Soft

Author Steven Pressfield wrote a classic about creating the work you’re meant to create: The War of Art. In it, he names the Resistance. That’s the negative energy that’s within us and will always be within us, holding us back from creating.

He followed it up with a tactical hard-hitting book called Turning Pro. He says that the life of the Amateur is driven by addiction and self-limiting behaviours. When you turn Pro, you’ll know it. You’ll remember where you were when you turned Pro. As a Pro, you’ll have a Practice of creating your creations. You’ll live the life you’re meant to lead.

Soon after reading the book, I was primed for looking for “I’ve had it” moments where I was turning Pro, once and for all. It was in March 2017 that I lost it with my five year old son. I was shaken by the experience. I used this to mark a line in the sand, telling myself this was the time I had finally turned Pro.

The trouble with the binary classification of being a Pro is that it doesn’t give wiggle room. It doesn’t let you succumb to your harmful daily habits. It means that if you have self-limiting behaviours then you haven’t turned Pro. Or at least that’s how I had interpreted. In summary, it feels like I’ve been failing at turning Pro, even though I’m aware of it.

Pressfield published another book called The Artist’s Journey. In it, he emphasises that the journey chooses you (so you should listen to it and accept it if you know what’s good for you!). The Artist’s Journey’s perspective is much softer and more forgiving, yet it’s still a motivating call for doing the work you were born to do. It gives you the permission to see your progress as a journey, as a story, as something that emerges over time.

P.S. Who are I to seek permission for anything from Steven Pressfield? Indeed, I have no permission to ask him. But his non-fiction work has been a call-to-arms for me. It’s been an inspiration for several years, and long may that last.

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