In any craft, there are professionals and amateurs. We know this. We can sense it, intuitively.
In every industry, there are experts — the rock stars, the celebrities, the talent — and there’s everyone else. There are those who take their work seriously and create excellence in whatever they do. Then there is the rest of the crowd.
Everybody wants to be the former. Nobody wants to be the mediocre majority. But the truth is it’s hard to be awesome.
Every professional’s secret
How do you become one of the few, the elite, the proud? There’s a secret all the pros know that the rest of us are oblivious to.
I don’t care if you’re a plumber, gardener, or musician — you need to understand this before you start your career. Otherwise, you’re just another amateur.
I want to share with you a very simple, but overlooked, way to launch work you can be proud of. It’s something I’ve only recently stumbled upon but now shapes every creative decision I make. Incidentally, it’s how you become great at anything and especially what it takes to be a real writer.
For years, I struggled with the confidence in my craft that would enable me to create my best work. How did I know I had what it takes? When would I know I was a pro?
Then something changed
I read a short, but important, book called The War of Art, a must-read manifesto for any creative. In this book, author Steven Pressfield talks about the importance of “turning pro” — which is something he says you have to do in your head before you can do it on paper.
But I didn’t understand this.
So on a whim, I decided to email Steve and interview him. I asked him, “When do I get to call myself a writer? When am I really a pro? Is it when I get published? when I write a best seller? When do I ‘arrive’?”
And Steve said something important that I will never forget:
You are when you say you are.
This idea stuck with me
From that day on, I started calling myself a writer. Putting it on my Facebook page. Including it in email signatures and mentioning it on phone calls. I was a writer.
And you know what? Steve was right. I started believing it. Even crazier: I started acting like it.
So the most ignored secret to becoming a real writer, the shocking truth about turning pro, is this: You are when you say you are. Until you start believing in yourself, don’t expect others to.
As long as you keep accepting monikers like “wannabe” and “aspiring” you are preventing yourself from endeavoring to be a professional. And your work is suffering as a a result.
So, go. Call yourself a writer. And start acting like one.
What’s holding you back from launching your career? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Capture Queen (Creative Commons)