My year of becoming prolific was kind of like Steven Pressfield’s year of Turning Pro. It was in 2013.
I picked up freelance gigs wherever I could get them.
I wrote things I didn’t want to write. I wrote for publications I didn’t really care about. But it paid the bills and I paid my dues. I built my chops.
I learned to produce on a deadline, create on a schedule, ship consistently, and ship things that my friend, Alice, describes as just the right level of imperfect.
Sometimes you build your chops by paying your dues.
Bill Belichick paid his dues by logging game tape. So did Eric Spoelstra. Tom Brady paid his dues as the fourth string quarterback for the Patriots. The grunt work is a prerequisite for the glamour. Sometimes your dues are the foundation for your greatness.
Julien Smith told me he wrote 1000 words a day. He had one of the most popular blogs on the internet. So I started doing the same. I’ve never stopped since.
I wrote 1000 words a day when I was sober.
I wrote 1000 words when I was hungover.
I wrote 1000 words if I spent the previous night shitfaced drunk.
I wrote 1000 words if I woke up in a funk.
I wrote on airplanes, in hotel rooms, and coffee shops. I wrote in notebooks, on the back of napkins, on my laptop and in towns across America — from Fargo to Lake Oswego. If he were still alive, perhaps Dr. Seuss would be beaming with pride.
I carried the War of Art with me everywhere I went. The pages were dog eared, passages underlined, and it was so beat to shit that it was if the book itself has been through a war. I read it like religious fanatics read the bible every day.
I stopped caring that I was still living at my parents house.
I stopped waiting for permission from a publisher, validation from my parents, and the approval people who would never live with the consequences of my choices.
I developed a point of view. I poked boxes, tipped over sacred cows, ignored best practices, broke rules and went so far as to call the bulk of what was happening in the online world an unsustainable mimicry of an epidemic. I pissed some people off and resonated with others.
I wrote two books. The first sold 1000 copies. The second became a Wall Street Journal best-seller.
I didn’t even know it hit the list because I did’t bother to look. I didn’t know until a friend told me, “Dude, you’re on the WSJ Best-Seller list.” My only concern was to remain prolific. I took a picture of the digital version of WSJ Best-Seller list and got back to work.
I don’t even have a copy of the paper from the day my book hit the list. I was too busy writing.
I met my first mentor. I planned an event and started the Unmistakable Creative. I planted lots of seeds that year, many of which didn’t bear fruit until very recently.
It wasn’t like I’d suddenly become a more talented writer. I still had all the same flaws, deficiencies, insecurities and inadequacies. I still do. The only difference was that I’d become prolific.
This year has always stayed with me as one that changed my life.
This is an excerpt from my new book, Make More Art: A No Bullshit Guide to Becoming a Prolific Creator. You can download it for free here.