If you’ve read my blog before, then you might be aware of my undying love for Steven Pressfield’s wonderful book on the creative battle, “¹The War of Art.” In the “Turning Pro,” section, Pressfield lists 10 qualities of a professional. This is the most perfect set of instructions for success that I’ve ever read.
Using Pressfield’s criteria, here is how the writing is going:
1. We show up every day. Check. I do something every single day, even if it’s just a paragraph.
2. We show up no matter what. Okay, I let the Death Virus beat me for two weeks, and the kid wins an awful lot…but she has the All Powerful Mama Ray that renders me into putty in her little paws.
3. We stay on the job all day. No such thing with a toddler. Since I can’t work in luxurious multi-hour stretches of time, I’ve started logging every single minute I spend on building this career and how I’m spending it (new fiction, reading, critiquing, blogging, rewriting, submitting, et cetera). Doing this has helped me evaluate how I work, and it keeps me on task.
4. We are committed over the long haul. I wonder what I’ll be writing about in my 80s. Probably space ninjas.
5. The stakes for us are high and real. It used to be all about me. Now it’s all about my family. I have to show them I can do this. I want all of us to have a better life because I succeed at doing this.
6. We accept remuneration for our labor. Cash, checks, money orders, PayPal, and all major credit cards, baby! And the only way to collect remuneration for our labor is to submit, submit, submit! My last story out for submission came home to roost, and so I’ve got no lines in the water right now. But I should have one, maybe two short stories out in the world in the next couple of weeks, and I have been focusing on getting all of my completed stories finished and out of the house.
7. We do not overidentify with our jobs. I received a pretty tough critique yesterday morning on a story I spent a lot of time and love on and thought was close to being ready to send out…and I am more excited about how I can make this story better than I am bummed out that I didn’t get a high-five. I know this critique isn’t about me, just this one story I wrote. And it’s okay if this story never pans out because I’ve got dozens more written and countless more coming down the pipeline.
8. We master the technique of our jobs. Besides having my real-life writer’s groups, I have belonged to the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror for at least three years and never posted a story for review…until recently. I’ve posted two stories in the past month, and I’ve posted four lengthy reviews. So I am definitely working on it.
9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs. If my husband happened to hear me cackling in my office the other day, it was because the perfect solution to my story was space ninjas…seriously. I have waay too much fun. I feel sorry for people who can’t utilize space ninjas in their line of work. (“Hey, Joe, the customers are complaining that the food’s taking too long.” “Hey! Do I look like a frickin’ space ninja to you? No? Then you know I can’t slow time, so tell the customers to hold their damn horses!”)
10. We receive praise of blame in the real world. That’s what the push to submit is about…as well as hanging my work on display in my virtual writer’s workshop.
I think the most positive indicator that I’m making my way towards the professional side of the spectrum is the fact that I’m stressed about it as if it were a “real” job. I’m starting to take my own self-imposed deadlines seriously, and when I get behind, I’m evil. (Well, eviler anyway.) I’m making conscious and deliberate sacrifices to allow this thing I must do to blossom. I’m always thinking about the writing.
When I first read this list a few years ago, I was a far and distant cry from meeting any of these criteria. Now I feel like I’m making progress. Progress makes me happy. So do space ninjas! Shoryuken!
Anyway, that’s how the writing’s been going for me. How’s about you guys?
Oh. And in case you’ve been living in a hole, NaNoWriMo begins in only three days away! Yeeks! Man the battle stations. Deliver all supplies and rations to me. I will keep them safe. I promise.
¹ Pressfield recently wrote on his blog: “…I’m hard at work on The War of Art 2.0., which I hope to have in six months or so.” Glee!