Resistance and being a Professional “The War of Art”:
Professionals vs Amateurs… It’s very different; the difference is that if you think like an amateur you won’t get anywhere…
“The armature plays for fun, the professional plays for keeps” To the armature the game is his avocation to the pro it’s his vocation. The armature is a weekend warrior the pro is there 7 days a week. They say that a armature dose it out of love, I say its the pro! He is the one who shows that he does it out of love, he puts all other things aside for the art… its not his hobbies, its his full time job, all he thinks about., he commits full time. Too much love cam make him choke though, you need a seeming detachment, a cold blooded approach to your art to keep you from loving the game so much that you freeze in action. Playing for money or at least adopting the attitude of being a professional lowers that fever. The payoff for playing for money isn’t the money… you may not see much of that, the pay off is the professional attitude, the lunch pail mentality of showing up for work.
Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when inspiration strikes… His reply was when inspiration strikes, Luckily I get inspired every day at 9:00 sharp.. That is a pro…
He sits down and does the mundane act of sitting to do his work and by doing so leaves the door open for inspiration to come in the back door. I remember once in Art School, I think it was figure drawling class my professor said that we have 10,000 bad images stuck inside of us and we need to release each of them before the true art comes out. To me that works with writing jokes and stories or any other creative act. Its just as a comedian it takes more time, we have to not just write the premise, then hone the bit, then deliver it in front of a group of people then see what we can change if anything or if we should drop it. That takes time and effort.
My days always start with a feeling that I have some sort of resistance against me, I try to get the obligations I have over, email, call, errands, and other important priorities. Do I believe that my writing a joke will make the world a better place… no, but to me it makes a difference, and if I do my job right someday I will inspire someone or teach someone something new… so these bits will make a difference some day. So if I work on my skills to be a better person, a better public speaker, a better improviser I have over come resistance for one more day and can be proud of this. When I go to bed at night I am already thinking about what I have to do tomorrow and what resistance I would have to overcome.
If you are truly a pro: you show up every day, you do it no matter what, you stay on the job all day, you are committed for the long hall, Your stakes are high and real, You work for money even though you may not see much of it. You work on mastering your skills, you take praise or blame in the Real world, and you have a sense of humor about your job.
You do not over identify with our jobs, we may take pride in, or work hard at it, but we are not our job descriptions… The amateur on the other hand over identifies with it, he defines himself by it. He is an actor, comic, musician or writer “Resistance” loves this… Resistance knows that am amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success, and overly terrified of its failure, so much so that the fear paralyzes him.
An amateur does not: show up every day, show up no matter what, is not committed, his goals are fake, he does not get money, and he over identifies with his art or calling and he does not have a sense of humor about his failure… you don’t hear an armature bitching “this trilogy is killing me” instead he doesn’t write it at all.
An amateur does not master their technique of their art or expose themselves to judgment in the real world. Nothing is as empowering as real world validation.
Here are some examples I personally have seen in the comedy world. Comedians that only work one room they write their material for their friends that tell them that they are funny. The comedian then announces to the world how they keep “Killing” or they “Killed it” (A stand up term being overused by amateur’s for doing fantastic, bringing the house down) These Amateurs never venture out to the unknown to test their work with the real world. Usually if they eave that save haven it’s to do a “Bringer” show or contest where their friends and family come to support and vote. This dose not count they are your friends they are being kind. They need real world validation, they need to strike it out on their own and take it… even if it’s for failure. The best way to learn is threw the crash and burn.
I remember competing in a contest, I was told to get there at 6PM I did not go on until close to 10PM. The judges were drunk , the room was out of control, the venue was not really one for comedy. To make it worse the comedian who went on before me watched my set on Youtube and literally told my punch lines before I went on. I went on the stage, crashed and burned, there were people answering their phones in the front row, the judges were too busy trying to get more free booze, and the crowd was drunk and exhausted. I was mortified it was like a bad dream… I got home that night and my partner asked if I was going to give it up and I said hell no. Then be happy you are where you wanted to be. You had a stage, you had a set worth stealing, and you just learned a valuable lessen that will make you stronger. So you have taken a few blows, which is the price you pay for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. That is when I realized I wanted to be a pro. I haven’t yet had a success, but I had a real failure.
So think of yourself as “You INC ” and be a professional about your art. Resistance loves Pre-Madonna’s and hates working stiffs… Show resistance a artist that thinks they are too good to take job x or y and resistance can crack them like a walnut. Put in the hours of work and you will have something to show of it.
Technically a pro plays for pay but ultimately does it for love.