For some of us, there is an essential passage in our creative lives that, if not reckoned with, leaves us frustrated, stymied, and feeling vaguely lost like we’re searching for something we can’t quite name.
We may feel we are blocked from becoming our full selves blocked from following what calls to us.
I first heard this passage called “turning pro” by writer Steven Pressfield in his book of the same name. This one idea lead me to revision how I saw my work and my self and ended up being incredibly important to me.
Pressfield writes, “What we get when we turn pro is, we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out.”
I sometimes wonder if my mom’s unhappiness later in life – unhappiness that perhaps contributed to her alcoholism – was because she was never supported to take her intelligence, her creative gifts, or her curiosity seriously.
I know that even as I experienced amazing success as a writer and teacher, I didn’t value my voice or my ideas. I too often and too desperately tried to write what I thought I should. It makes me so sad to think of what I might have written and taught if I had “turned pro” sooner.
But I have no time for regrets! There is too much goodness to create.
To me, turning pro is not about earning money or fame (sometimes this can cause more confusion than anything), but coming out of hiding with what you care about AND learning your craft so you can express those ideas, feelings, and images.
Turning pro can mean saying:
“No more downplaying my ambition, my desire, my love.”
“No more numbing out with my job or with T.V. and pinot.”
“No more spending my energy in comparison or fantasy.”
“No more showing up to work when I feel like it or when the ‘muse’ strikes.”
“No more saying ‘I can’t, it’s all been done, and who cares?’”
How do we honor our creative lives consistently?
I’ve been exploring that question – living it – for myself and my students now for about five years.
There isn’t one answer, but it does have something to do with making a decision.
A decision of devotion.
A decision that your creative expression, interests, and obsessions matter.
How do you make that decision?
How do you identify and practice the daily habits that make that decision a reality?