Turning Pro 5/10 – Fear of Self


It’s Day 5 of reading Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro and today’s topic is about fear, specifically the fear of failure and the fear of success, and, ultimately, fear of becoming oneself.

In the section we read today, Pressfield goes into great length and detail about what exactly is an amateur and how an amateur’s defining characteristic is fear, most of all fear of becoming him or herself while paradoxically constantly seeking external validation or permission before acting. In this manner, he explains, the amateur knows that there are better things out there but instead they hide. While many people have a fear of failure or experience it, there can also be, at the same time, a fear of success. According to Pressfield, this is what blocks the amateur and it is something that must be conquered in our path to turning pro.

While a fear of failure is fairly obvious – we fear failing something (or someone), a fear of success is the opposite: those who have a fear of success fear what could happen if they do succeed and the outcome of their success, what responsibilities that might entail, etc. The usual action arising from these two conflicting feelings is no action at all, unless one decides to take the bull by the horns and do it anyway. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin; neither can happen without taking a risk.

Though I haven’t necessarily dealt with fear of success personally, I do know what fear of failure feels like and just how crippling it can be, as well as debilitating in that, sometimes, it could be so strong that, to avoid the potential sting of failure, I wouldn’t try at all or even do my best (the latter of which seems ironic; one would logically think the opposite – to do my best – would avoid failure). I’m not proud of it, but I have improved my attitude regarding failure and success and it is still evolving. In fact, it’s in the past three years that I have taken action toward accomplishing personal goals no matter the outcome – the accomplishment begins when I simply take action, whether it was volunteering or commitment to a project.

By facing our fear and taking action in spite of it, we move closer to becoming ourselves. The amateur is closely tied to their ego, therefore that supposed fear of external factors (failure, success) is really a reflection of their fear of how they will change, or the world’s perception of them, and the resultant accountability and responsibility they must take. As Pressfield writes, turning pro is nothing more than growing up, and sometimes part of growing up is learning how to conquer the monsters under the bed on our own.

Catch up on the previous days’ posts in this series:

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Turning Pro 4/10 – Inside Out


It’s Day 4 of reading Turning Pro – in case you missed them, here are the posts for Day 1, 2, and 3. Throughout the book, Pressfield intersperses his advice with his story of how he became pro in his own life by applying the very same principles he talks about. In today’s section that we read for today, he shares the story about his year of turning pro, which inspires the topic of today’s post: chasing your daemons. Yes, not battling – chasing. I will explain this further in the post (and the difference in spelling).

Reading Pressfield’s story about his year of turning pro reminded me of the countless movies in which the protagonist is seen working and their brilliant output, usually sped up to show the passage of time – weeks, months – sometimes, though not unusually, after they’ve hit rock bottom or decide to change their path (if they didn’t hit rock bottom). To me, this stuff has always been inspiring but it’s also an illusion, of sorts, at the same time. When we’re doing the work, time goes by at its usual pace and we’re working from the inside. The other thing is that, as movies are a visual medium, storytelling must take its cue from external signs when, really, the work starts from the inside – before the burst of creativity and time-lapsed flurry of output that everyone sees.

Personal victory comes before public triumph.

Turning pro is personal, as well as private; as we work on ourselves, those changes we’ve made will start to make a difference in our lives and others’ lives, too, as they start to see how we’ve changed. This is, once again, something that is harder to convey onscreen and the audience only really sees the results of the character’s inner, private work on themselves. We cannot enter the character’s mind or not so much as witness, but feel, their thought processes without it being visualized.

What is the pain of being human?

It’s the condition of being suspended between two worlds and being unable to fully enter into either.

Pressfield carries on to describe these two worlds, the upper realm (belonging to the gods) and the lower realm, the material world. However, when we work on ourselves and engage in our true calling, when we turn pro, we are in tune and connected with this upper realm, as Pressfield calls it. Others might call it God, the universe, a higher consciousness, etc.

Whatever it is, this is what we connect to when we are engaged in what we love to do. Before the Renaissance, when a person created something, they weren’t called a genius; they had genius, assisted by their daemon (a benevolent being, distinct from demon). While in some ways similar to our current understanding or popularly believed image of the muse, it is dissimilar in that, nowadays, while we might hear an artist talk about finding their muse or complaining about waiting for her, the artist takes all the credit and praise for their creativity and the muse receives nothing. (Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this in greater detail in her TED Talk.)

This upper realm calls to us, but it is up to us to do the work to connect with it and to see our results, the fruits of our labour.

Turning Pro 3/10 – Amusing Ourselves to Death


It’s Day 3 of reading Turning Pro – the title of today’s post is taken from Neil Postman, although it remains apt for the topic I’m writing about today: distractions. In a world rife with information overload and, needless to say, endless distractions mostly via the Internet and social media, most of us are no stranger to falling prey to them but what does distraction mean to the person turning pro?

Have you checked your e-mail in the last half hour? When you sit down to do your work, do you leave your web connection on?

In today’s section that we read, Pressfield focuses on addiction (in all forms), and one of the addictions he focuses on is being addicted to distraction.

Inadvertently, so much so that it just seems natural, this year I have been spending considerably less time on the Internet and screens. I didn’t make it a New Year’s resolution or goal, it just happened as I spent more time on personal projects and life in general; “the bigger picture”. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is great but in the not-too-recent past, the Internet was my place to hang out (whether on social media or simply browsing). Now, when I do spend more time than I should, or constantly checking email and social media, that’s an indicator for me that I’m being distracted from important goals or priorities.

Distraction, Pressfield writes, is part of the shadow life and when we’re addicted to it, it diverts us from our true calling. Distraction can also be a form of oppression because it’s easy to slip through and we don’t notice it. For an otherwise light-hearted movie, this was executed brilliantly (and so swiftly that it’s almost imperceptible) in a moment in The Lego MovieWhen we feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied, another distraction crops up to and we forget in the face of novelty.

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! This year, one of my resolutions is to get back into blogging – I’ve gotten out of the groove for the past few months (and in the case of my food blog, even longer) as life has been busy. It is with this said that I intend to start blogging again this month, setting aside time to do so, with the help of John Saddington’s 10 Days to a Better Blog, a free online workshop. 

I’m behind by a day, so I’m doing Days #1 and #2 together. Day 2’s assignment coming up next! 

Friday Links

It’s Friday, and that means it’s the weekend! Since getting a Tumblr blog, I’ve been posting a lot there. As I realize that not everyone is on Tumblr, I’ve decided that every Friday I’m going to post a links roundup of the most interesting things I blogged about on Tumblr or that were the most popular based on number of likes/reblogs. Think of it as a weekly newsletter!

Now, without further ado:

1. I’m currently doing research for a historical novel I’m starting, set in Canada during World War I. I’ve been tagging my posts with “WWI novel”, as I don’t actually have a title yet.
2. My Dear Bessie, love letters sent between Chris Barker and Bessie Moore during World War II. Their story is beautiful and I’m looking forward to this book.
3. Project Hound: an exciting idea for a book app, adapting the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle.
4. Another Arthur Conan Doyle link, a fan theory about the possible connections between Sherlock Holmes and Edward, the Black Prince.
5. Responsibility of the writer, a tag I’ve created to keep track of inspiring quotes by authors about the importance of writers and their duty.

That’s just some of what I’ve posted – head over to Writer’s Bone on Tumblr for more!

Behind the Scenes

I’m a big fan of behind the scenes stuff, whether it be movies, tv shows, or books (such as an insight into an author’s writing process, etc.). When I started this blog, I hoped to do more of that but so far, I haven’t.

After reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work!, I thought about this more and how I might be able to show behind the scenes stuff more effectively and decided to get a Tumblr. While I love seeing other people sharing their process, their behind the scenes, out of habit I keep my cards very close to my chest when it comes to creating. But I’m learning when, sometimes, it is okay to share and I’m making that distinction as I share some of my story ideas (things I’m working on, or just thinking about so far) with family members and friends, as well as fellow writers.

The Writer’s Bone Tumblr is an extension of this blog and allows me to share things – my inspirations for my projects, quotes from authors I like, etc. – in a way that is freeing. It is freeing in a way that I don’t feel compelled, or obligated, to have to write a proper post in order to just share something – which is how I feel when I post something here or on one of my other WordPress.com blogs, whereas with Tumblr I can post a photo, for example, and maybe I’ll only write one or two sentences, or a basic summary, without it being a full-blown post. I’ll also be using it to tie in to topics that I might blog about here in the future. Tumblr is my notebook, my book of ideas, my commonplace book on the Internet.

Keep an eye on the tags! If I post or reblog something that relates to a piece I’m working on, I will tag it accordingly.

Three things to read, watch, and use

I guest posted today on the website 27 Good Things, where I share three things good to read, watch, and use. It was tough to narrow down since there are so many things that I like and love, but I think I managed. The books I listed are very much reflective of my recent reading material.

I’ve already reblogged it on trend & chic, and am posting it here and on Z’s Cup of Tea as well. I wish I could just reblog it again, but it seems you’re only allowed to reblog once under the same account on WordPress.com.

I was asked if I was interested in being a guest after I tweeted about one of the books I list, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and thanked John Saddington (@saddington) for recommending it. (He didn’t directly recommend it to me, but he did mention it as a book he tells everyone to read in a link that he had tweeted before.) Next thing I knew, I was tweeted by Mike, who runs 27 Good Things, and after a few more tweets, he asked me if I would like to do a guest post and here we are!

I first came across 27 Good Things when I read a post with John sharing his good things, which was when I learned about Daniel Pink’s “Drive” and shortly afterward borrowed it from the library. In that vein, I’m glad to have shared these three things to read, watch, and use and it is my hope that readers will find them useful, inspiring, informative, and entertaining, while maybe also discovering something new to them.

You can read my guest post here.

Scratch Your Own Itch

This goes for writing stories, too. Sometimes an author will write a story with a particular person in mind, but often he will write a story for himself (old-fashioned, generic usage of “he” and “himself” here). I’m reading this book right now, since finishing “Remote” by the same authors and I’m greatly enjoying it.

trend & chic



“The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is something *you* want to use.” – REWORK, Jason Fried and David Heinemer Hansson

The best products – heck, anything – are made by people who made them for themselves. Chances are, if the product has value, other people will want it, too.

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