I work a lot as a freelancer. The outcome of my life is now directly correlated with what I do on a daily basis. There is no more middle man to hide behind. As a result, my days have had to become more regimented to get everything done that I want to do – activities of the mind, body, spirit, and wallet are all scheduled in. Whether I stick to this schedule is another story.
I read many writing blogs, and they all praise the book Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield for helping them transition from being an amateur – one who sporadically practices his craft – to a professional – one who habitually practices the craft, day in day out, whether you feel like it or not.
I am two chapters away from finishing writing my book. And it is still rough. I figured I would read Turning Pro for some inspiration. My two biggest takeaways from the book are similar to some of the posts I’ve written about productivity before, but worth repeating. I share them here.
1. The Professional Mindset Has a Practice
“A practice implies engagement in a ritual. A practice may be defined as the dedicated, daily exercise of commitment, will, and focused intention aimed, on one level, at the achievement of mastery in a field, but on a loftier level, intended to produce a communion with a power greater than ourselves – call it whatever you like: God, mind, soul, Self, the Muse, the superconscious.”
A Practice Has a Space: “and that space is sacred.”
A Practice Has a Time: “when we convene day upon day in the same space at the same time, a powerful energy builds up around us.”
A Practice Has an Intention: “our intention as artists is to get better, to go deeper, to work closer and closer to the bone.”
A Practice is Lifelong: “when our hearts burst…then we’ll go out, and no sooner.”
2. What About the Magic?
“The professional mindset works in two ways. First, the pro mindset is a discipline that we use to overcome Resistance. To defeat the self-sabotaging habits of procrastination, self-doubt, susceptibility to distraction, perfectionism, and shallowness, we enlist the self-strengthening habits of order, regularity, discipline, and a constant striving for excellence.
But what about magic? What about madness? What about the flashes of brilliance and uncontrollable bouts of genius? How does the professional mindset help there? Isn’t it too severe, too hardcore, too regimented?
Yoga, meditation, and the martial arts access the soul by way of the body. The physical leads to the spiritual. The humble produces the sublime.
It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true: in order to achieve “flow,” “magic,” “the zone,” we start by being common and ordinary and workmanlike. We set our palms against the stones in the garden wall and search, search, search until at last, in the instant we are ready to give up, our fingers fasten upon the secret door.”
A worthy aim, and I’m still working to get there.