Third Time’s the…
No, it’s not a charm. It’s not even a fetish!
Hey, you! In the back. With the trap set. Yeah, you should take that thing on the road. No, really: get out.
To the meat: last time I finished talking about openings, which was all crafty, n’stuff. Two weeks back, I gave a bit of a precis on the War of Art concept of Resistance. Not the silliness related to a sitting president, but the impersonal, unidirectional force Steven Pressfield says is what prevents us from doing art.
In the first book (he divides his treatise into books in a conscious echo of Sunzi’s Art of War, with each book made up of aphorisms with minimal commentary) he discusses Resistance and lays out all the ways it interferes with our ability to get any-bloody-thing done.
In the second book, Mr. Pressfield lays out the solution: going pro. Anybody who wants to be a professional needs to act like one. In this, his book echoes every professionally successful author with whom I’ve talked. Larry talks about this in his excellent Ask Correia series, specifically Number 14. Our own Sarah has hammered on this any number of times in my hearing, as well as here at the MGC. If you’re going to be a professional, you have do as the professional do.
Mr. Pressfield starts even earlier than being a professional craftsman (as opposed to arteest) and pulls up the notion of the day job. Everybody has held down a day job of some kind. From burger flipper, to janitor (raises hand), to military vet, to hedge fund manager, everybody has spent some time doing something for somebody else.
And the other thing in common to all those day jobs was external strictures. Somebody else decided what you could wear, when you could show up and leave, what you were allowed to do on breaks and as distractions. As authors – or at least as writers on spec, as most of us tend to be – we’re sitting in both those chairs: the line grunt pounding out whatever product, and the boss who gives the orders.
As the boss, we get to set all of those restrictions. I know I’m lousy at this. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m putting on pants (I know, I know, kilteDave putting on trousers? Heresy!) to work. And my timing is … spotty. I’m working on it. Himself’s pre-school schedule is helping. A lot. So clocking in and clocking out have a reason beyond making us miserable cusses. We hooman beans tend to work better with a solid routine.
As the boss, it’s our job to set those. As the grunt in the trenches, it’s our job to follow those. The boss says when we show up, and we do. The boss says when we’re done, and that’s when we knock off. The boss says when lunch is, though the stomach gets a voice in that one.
So, go pro. Do as the pro do. I’ll dig more into this as time goes on, but for now, I have to take the littles to the beach for fun.