Review: Turning Pro (Steven Pressfield)

A few weeks ago I read Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, who also happens to be my new BFF who I had the pleasure of having breakfast with last week (more on that later, believe me).  One of the things I like most about this book is that Pressfield doesn’t soft-pedal his advice at all:  basically, he’s the honeybadger of writing coaches:  Ohh, are you whining about how you have writer’s block and how ‘the muse’ hasn’t visited you lately?  Much like the honeybadger, Steven Pressfield doesn’t give a f%^k.  He wants you to get off that couch and get your writing done.  He wants you to take yourself seriously as a writer/ artist, and I agree.  In fact, I will take it one step further and say that I think you should take yourself seriously as a writer, write a book (or five), then get serious about yourself as a business-person and start getting yourself out there in a big way.   To me, “Turning Pro” is a swift kick in the ass for people who are making excuses and waiting for someone (like an agent or a publisher) to give them permission to keep writing.

This really resonates with me because, come hell or high water, I write and I get my stuff out there.  I work hard, I am generous with advice, and I will always help someone in need (case in point, almost every day I get requests from writers/ creative types to tell them what to do to fix their websites, or to sell more books, or to get more people to their websites (this is always contextual, but I try to always answer the questions to the best of my ability).

Pressfield has a great passage in this book about WWI soldiers shooting themselves in the foot when it came time to go to battle, because the pain of shooting yourself is (mentally, at least) less painful than having to go and fight whatever might be over that next hill.    Here’s an excerpt:

“The habits and addictions of the amateur are conscious or unconscious self-inflicted wounds.  Their payoff is incapacity.  When we take our M1903 Springfield and blow a hole in our foot, we no longer have to face the real fight of our lives, which is to become who we are and to realize our destiny and calling.”

I totally agree, and I will say as a witness, this kind of shooting yourself in the foot doesn’t end even when you have finally turned pro, become a writer, and finished your book.   It is AMAZING to me, and I mean AMAZING at how little of my advice people actually follow (and I am including advice that they seek me out and pay for), and how little authors/ creative types are willing to actively engage in their own success, whether this means putting themselves on a regular writing schedule, or fixing broken links on their website, or even taking a single first step toward putting their digital profile in order (or, as I would call it “Turning Pro 2.0,” in which I tell you:  You’ve written a book (or five)?  Good for you.  Now you need to pull your website together, get on social media, and let people know about your work.)  That is how book marketing works in the brave new world of the internet:  no one will know about you unless you tell them, but if you spend too much time telling them, then you are not doing the work.

So, in short, I totally think you should read this book, and then get back to work on your book, then read my book, set up a website and start marketing that book.   Pull it together!   No one’s going to take you seriously until you do that yourself.

Seriously.  Pull it together.   Read it, live it, and then read my book,  out there and turn pro with your marketing, because (as my BFF Steven Pressfield and I can both attest), that writing career isn’t going to make itself.

Oh, and while you’re at it, I totally think you should watch this hilarious interview that Steve did with Chris Brogan.


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