In the last couple of weeks, I’ve listened to Atomic Habits by James Clear and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield twice each. I’ve extracted so many insights from each book. However, there was one idea that both shared that inspired me to reflect.
Both talk about the difference between an amateur and a professional. Typically, for me, the key distinction was someone who gets paid to do something versus someone who does it for fun or as a hobby. A must versus a nice to do.
Both James and Steven agree on another way of looking at it. In Atomic Habits, James mentions that the professional doesn’t allow life to get in the way of the habit, practice, or goal. A professional must get it done and as such builds systems to ensure it gets done. An amateur can get away with skipping a day or two.
Becoming a Writer
For almost two months, I have been reinventing myself into a prolific writer. To that end, I have committed to write and publish every weekday for at least 100 straight weekdays. I wasn’t quite sure when I could really think of myself as a writer. I’ve debated it. However, I do believe I am one, but this distinction by Steven and James helped me prove it.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been going through a lot of challenging issues related to new life transitions and changes. All great things but each with their very distracting and stressful obstacles and challenges. These obstacles and challenges have kept me preoccupied most days during the day. It’s been difficult to focus on much else.
My writing could easily have taken a back seat. I had no shortage of great excuses. But now, I identify as a professional writer and I can’t have excuses. As a writer, I’ve created a system to publish every single weekday, no matter what. I have learned that writers write whether they feel inspired or not, creative or not, motivated or not. And when I didn’t feel like it, my system helped me do it. When I was tired and much rather go to sleep, my system helped me publish. As a pro, it’s not about whether I feel like doing it or not. I must. It’s not a drag, it’s a commitment and responsibility to my future self. And it’s very hard to negotiate with or compromise that.
Pros have better problems
Lately, my posts have come quite late in the night. One even published two minutes after midnight and that actually bothered me.
It was quite a privilege to be bothered by that. Another version of me would have been bothered by missing 2 or 3 days of writing and justified it with great excuses. But professional writer Roger is bothered by publishing 2 minutes after midnight. It’s like a great basketball player getting upset over missing a triple-double by one assist. What a great problem to have!
It seems when you become a pro, there’s another distinction. Your problems are much better. In the grand scheme of things, posting 2 minutes after midnight is a pretty awesome thing to get to be bothered by.