Steven Pressfield writes about the war of art. To win the war, you have to fight daily battles against distraction, resistance, assholes on the internet, and the bullshit in your own head.
Resistance comes in all shapes and sizes. But there a few types of resistance that will destroy you.
Distraction is kryptonite for anyone who wants to be prolific. Twitter, Facebook, email, and anything else you find mildly entertaining are the modern-day supervillains in a prolific creator’s life. Focus is what happens when Superman goes into the chamber in his ice castle and fools Lex Luthor into thinking he’s giving up his powers. Grab the villains by the hands; squeeze them until they break; and kick their asses out of your home.
Assholes on the Internet: The culture of anonymous feedback, Amazon reviews, and comments on blog posts is a breeding ground for assholes on the internet. You can feed the trolls, engage your critics or you can get to work. As Seth Godin likes to say, “Anonymous feedback from people who I have no relationship with will cause me to do nothing but hide.” You’re not here to hide. You’re here to be prolific. Get back to work.
The Voice in Your Head: I have a voice in my head. He’s an asshole. Here are some of his greatest hits:
- Shouldn’t you be further along by now?
- What if this never leads to anything?
- You should really be making more money.
- Maybe you should get a day job.
- If you were any good at this, you would have sold as many books as those guys and girls on the best-seller list.
- Where exactly is this all going?
If the greatest hits of the voice in your head were turned into an album, a perfect title would be Bullshit. When it comes to being a prolific creator, you have to consider the possibility that the voice in your head is full of shit.
Change your profile picture.
Tweak your Twitter bio.
Upload a glimpse of your glamorous life to Instagram.
Talk about the novel you’re writing on Twitter.
Peripheral activities cause people to confuse activity with progress, and motion with momentum. Think about all that art that people have yet to create because of the time they’re spending on peripheral activities.
A Growth Mindset
We quantify and measure our lives from the time we’re in school.
- Your grades measure your intelligence.
- Your college measures your potential for success in life.
- Your job, the size of your bank account, or the attractiveness of your partner determines your status.
All of this is the antithesis of what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. If you believe any of those labels are permanent, it’s hard to have a growth mindset.
There’s more to you than can be expressed through a bunch of labels. Once you realize that none of those labels are permanent, you’re free. If you’re prolific, you’ll start to see just how fluid those labels are. Being prolific leads to a growth mindset.
A Game of Inches
Tom Brady doesn’t take his first snap and conclude that he’s a failure if he doesn’t throw a touchdown on the first pass. He’s focused on gaining yards. It’s two steps back and 20 forward. It’s a game of inches.
That’s how being a prolific creator works. You ship, ship, ship, and then you score. But unlike the Super Bowl, the work of a prolific creator is an infinite game. Every time you score, it gives you the opportunity to keep playing. You get to keep being prolific. That’s the whole point.
Shit Hits the Fan
Just because you’re prolific it doesn’t mean that life doesn’t continue on around you.
Your boss might fire you.
Your girlfriend might dump you.
The stock market might tank.
I’m 2 for 3 on the above.
No matter who you are, shit hits the fan. When shit hits the fan, you can continue to be prolific or be pissed off. Professionals choose the first. Amateurs choose the second.
This is part of a series about how to become a more prolific creator. You can download the entire book for free here.