I get asked questions every day about how to be a writer and how to get published, it’s the most frequent topic of advice emails sent to me, actually. Because of this, Nils and I are the process of writing a comprehensive set of posts about what it means to be a creative writing professional in the age of the internet and precisely how to do that. So yes, I will answer ALL those emails I get from people asking me “how to be a writer.” We’re going to cover everything that could possibly be relevant to modern creative writing professional, and do it in a way that has never been done before–from a battle-tested, proven perspective with tons of specific, actionable information and real world examples. There are pretty much no books about writing that do anything like that, so we’re going to write it.
I said “pretty much.” In my piece, I am not really covering much about the personal process of deciding to become a creative, simply because nothing I write will ever be better at explaining the psychological process of becoming and being a creative professional better than The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.
I have read and re-read that book so many times, my marked up copy is now in a shambles. And I have bought at least 20 copies of The War of Art to give out to people so I can just give them one so they won’t steal my copy. It’s so fucking good, I put it on the list of my most influential books. I assumed that after such an amazing book, he had said everything he had to say about creativity and art and Resistance and the Muse.
The War of Art is the best book about art and creativity I’ve ever read, and Turning Pro is right there with it. If you want to be a writer or an artist or just do something you love, you need to read both books.
The War of Art is about recognizing the muse inside of you, deciding to turn pro, and then fighting off Resistance, and Turning Pro is about the next step in your evolution as a purposeful creative–what does it mean to be a pro, how separates a pro from an amateur, and why is it important to make this distinction. It also helps you understand and identify the difference between actually being a pro, and just going through the motions. The War of Art is why you should turn pro, and how to do it. Turning Pro is about what you do once you are a pro.
I won’t go on and on explaining Turning Pro–either you’re already ordering it off Amazon, or you aren’t interested. You can read my short synopsis here if you really want to know more. One thing though: If you are interested in reading Turning Pro, I’d read The War of Art first. I may be wrong on this, but I feel like Turning Pro is a sequel of sorts, and assumes the reader has a base of knowledge about Steven’s terminology and concepts.
[As a side note: I am going to start tinkering with ways to post reviews of the books I read, but they won't be standard review systems. I want to organize information in a way thats more useful than the standard review. Here are my first attempts, with The War of Art and Turning Pro. If this is interesting to people and you want more like this, or want me to add stuff, let me know, firstname.lastname@example.org]
There’s another reason this book is interesting: Steven Pressfield is publishing it himself. I don’t want to go too far into this, simply because I don’t want to talk about anything beyond what he does, so read what he says about that here. If you care about the business of media and publishing, what he’s doing is very interesting and exciting.
In the interest of full and absolute disclosure–and because I want to humblebrag–I got access to Turning Pro early. I already wrote about how I met Steven and his agent Shawn Coyne, but after the meeting, they were cool enough to send me a promotional item for the release: A lunch pail, complete with copies of Turning Pro and The War of Art. It was pretty fucking awesome, here are the pictures: