Writer = Entrepreneur
Are you a writer?
Then you’re an entrepreneur.
You have more in common with the young Steve Jobs and the early Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg than you do with your dad who worked all his life for AT+T or your aunt who’s five months away from collecting her pension from the Post Office.
[Today’s post, by the way, is the kick-off for a new extended series that I’m calling, until someone comes up with a catchier title, “The Professional Mindset.” Over the succeeding weeks we’re going to examine the inner world of the writer and the artist, not in terms of craft or even of overcoming Resistance, but of self-management.]
What emotional and psychological skills does a writer or artist need to conceive a project, to initiate it in the face of self-doubt and the indifference and even outright opposition of others, to hang tough through the “second act horrors,” to bring the work to completion, and then to take it to market out there in the cold, cruel world.
How should she think of herself, this writer or artist? What is her most effective self-conception? Warrior? Mother? Jedi knight?
Step One, it seems to me, is to recognize that all of us–writers, artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians–are entrepreneurs.
We don’t work for the Man.
We work for ourselves.
These are two completely different modes of operating in the world and of thinking about ourselves.
One way looks outside itself—to a boss, an authority figure, an established organization of which it is a part–for daily structure, for validation, for monetary remuneration.
The other way generates these from within. From her own self and her own labors.
This is an earth-shaking, life-altering, monumental watershed of the mind and the heart.
What is an entrepreneur anyway?
My online dictionary says the word comes from the French, entreprende, “to undertake.” It’s related to “enterprise.”
A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach defines an entrepreneur as
Someone who has an exceptionally personal relationship with the 15th of the month.
Payday where nobody is going to cut you a check except yourself.
Payday when YOU are the only one generating income.
The artist, if you think about it, is the quintessential entrepreneur.
On the upside, she possesses total workplace freedom. She can tackle any project she wants, execute it any way she wishes, take it to market any way she chooses. She can write a novel, audition for a Broadway play, compose a symphony, lay out the next Assassins’ Creed.
No one is stopping her. No one is telling her “it can’t be done.” She can rise as high as her gifts will carry her.
On the downside, she is all alone in a stark, indifferent universe.
No one guarantees her an income. No one provides daily structure. No one motivates her, no one mentors her, no one pats her on the back.
That’s an entrepreneur.
Over the coming weeks we’re going to examine what it takes—emotionally and psychologically—to succeed in this raw, often cruel, Wild West universe.
We’re going to take a hard look at the Professional Mindset and how it applies to those of us seeking to make our living/satisfy our soul at the intersection of Art and Commerce.
Another great series to look forward to – thanks in advance!
My favorite line is your definition of an entrepreneur: “A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
As a business coach I see too many who don’t take their business seriously. It’s a hobby vs. a business. There is virtually no risk.
This looks exciting. A friend and I were discussing the idea of a basic universal income the other day. We are both retired Army guys–so we essentially are benefiting from this basic idea already. A pension is a life-saver, but a 20th Century phenomena.
My concern with the BUI is that most of us are still amateurs, and the choice to do ‘hard’ is not a course of action most of us elect. Will mankind simply descend into hedonistic abandon?
I know this is written to the artist/entrepreneur, but I think the professional mindset will likely need to be everyone’s mindset when automation, self-driving cars, and robots remove 90% of the jobs.
My fear, and what I’ve gathered from all your writings, is that even though one turns pro–the temptation to do easy, hit snooze,eat a Big Mac, all the self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors–are just below the surface, ready to pounce the moment one takes it for granted.
Read something on James Allen daily reflections the other day, “All becoming is painful”. I agree, but the child in me wants it to be different.
This is one of the most salient (and overlooked) parts of the War of Art. The riff about the stationery and the memo to the staff (you) and your work as a professional.
You keep making a difference.
I read and love your blog, too.
You’ve nailed it, Steven. This is one of the first things I noticed when I woke up on July 18, 2007, my first day of self-employment.
There was a vast day in front of me. I could do anything I wanted with it. I expected to feel free. Instead, I felt terrified.
Looking forward to more posts about The Professional Mindset.
I am just starting this journey and I am setting up the rules I have to follow just now.
I am so looking forward for any information that you Mr Pressfield can share. It’s always a pleasure reading your blog.
I must take exception to one thing you wrote, Steve:
“No one motivates her, no one mentors her, no one pats her on the back.”
I’ve been following you, Shawn, and Callie religiously since sometime in 2014. In a week, Amazon will send me over four thousand dollars (my first real royalties–hitting about four years into this undertaking).
Over the last 4 some years, I’ve been broke, homeless, disowned, discouraged, depressed…but I remind myself of something that both you and Shawn told me at different points along this journey:
“You can make it.”
The team at Black Irish Books has:
And patted me on the back (in a virtual sense–sure–but meaningful none-the-less).
Yes, this is a lonely, hard, cold business…but I’ve received so much help and encouragement from being here that I wanted to point out that a creative today (assuming internet access) can only say they are not being mentored and encouraged if they’re purposefully ignoring all the great helps available, from this blog, to The Story Grid, to the numerous other blogs, groups, forums, etc., that are available (many-most good ones-for free).
I’d like to echo your sentiment, Michael! It’s been years in the making as a side project, but I finally wrote my first novel after several abandoned attempts over the past 10+ years. Between Steve’s constant motivation and Shawn’s story grid road map, I always felt like I had people pulling for me (even though they don’t know me). I may not publish it, but I fools-capped it, used the five leaf genre tool, and wrote it. I made it readable for some friends and family, and I couldn’t have done it without people like Steve, Shawn, and Seth encouraging me every week (or day, in Seth’s case).
Very inspiring! I’m sure it’s been a shit road and hard as hell . . . but for some of us, it’s the gamble that gives us a reason to wake up in the morning.
I’ve tried the 9-5 and found that I was comfortable, well thought of and socially nourished. I must really hate myself to give that up only to be lonely, inconsistently-paid and somewhat insane. I am *this close* to getting a soccer ball named Wilson . . . *this close* . . !
I’ve often wondered if some of us do it because we secretly want to rule our own tiny kingdom and not be a peasant in someone else’s kingdom. Nothing wrong with that except it’s hard to convince others to be your peasants . . . think I’ll write about that in my blog today.
Really looking forward to this series, Steve.
I can’t find your novel. How do I get one? Did you write it under your name? What is the title?
Entrepreneur: Someone who is willing to work 50-70 hours a week so they don’t ‘have’ to work 40.
I love it.
I’d like to humbly submit another series title, “I’m a Business, Baby!”
Should this be one of the scariest, most anxiety-provoking things I’ve ever read?
Looking forward to reading more.
Excellent! I’m very much looking forward to following this new series. I’ll just throw in some questions and topics I’d like to get your take on along the way in the hopes that one or more might prove useful.
How should an entrepreneur respond to the failure of one of their efforts or attempts?
How do you cultivate and hone your sense of what your audience and the marketplace want so that you can engage that, rather than simply chasing what others have already done?
Any tips for balancing working in your business with working on your business? A lot of the advice I read for professional indie authors boils down to “always be writing the next book”, yet we know we also need to make time for engaging our audience, promoting our work, etc. What has that balance looked like for you?
I’ll be following this series with great interest. Thanks for continuing to share your experience and perspective.
perfect topic, perfect timing.
No one has seen a word of what I’ve written. I don’t know where this is going at all. But nothing gives back to me like writing right now. I simply can’t do anything else. Resistance every day to value my writing as important. Yet, I can’t do anything else.
Just saw redundant statement- should have proofread!!
Again, I am so moved by your words, Steve, I’m bound to respond. (bound, is the wrong word, but can’t think of another at this point in time).
It took a few years of being alone in my studio to get to the stage where I just love it. Now, if I’m interrupted, I feel the hairs on the back of my neck go up. What, go for a coffee, sit and natter and waste time!!!!
You have been such an inspiration over the years. Thanks
Reading Steve’s Books, Writing Wednesdays and What It Takes has mentored me in more than one “field” I have been plowing through for years. In the Financial field attempting to become an in-home business entrepreneur with Direct Sales and a company that distributes their products via Network Marketing all has applied [for which] I have been labeled “the odd one out” and “lots of luck”. What Callie’s wrote in last Friday’s What It Takes was an “eye opener” that took a few days to sink in as so relevant with MLM and was like Oh! OK I am not out there in left field where they all put me doing it “my way.” “If you are going to bust your ass, do it for yourself, not for a platform that will either 1)make the executive (and not you)rich off a sale or 2)take your work down with it when it fails. Resist the temptation to jump where millions of others are hanging out. Do what grows you before you help grow someone else.”
Looking forward to the series.
I’m reading Seth’s blog, too.
I like people who think out of the box.
Please throw in a reference to software/software entrepreneurs here and there! I love stumbling into those in your books!
[…] Writer = Entrepreneur […]
I like to say my boss is the biggest hardass. She is me.
Been doing the indy thing for 15 years and while every single day is challenge, I could never go back to the man
So looking forward to this series for some new insigts and support from the creative community.
I am here as a result of currently reading the war of art, a book gifted to me by my sister.
-you know of what you speak and write!
I am what has been identified as a mega-blogger, over 10 years and 4,000 blog posts worth of creative non-fiction, mixed media, photography. doing the work, via self-motivation, and while I work two or more other jobs; this I have, and can continue to accomplish
but despite this level of creative output..
ignored by agents/publishers -not from lack of effort of sending queries/proposals
but my aim now is to share with a larger audience and monetize my literary and mixed media art.
I will continue reading and stay-tuned to your instruction.. your insights… suggestions/wisdom
-fan of the legend of bagger vance
-fan of your super soul sunday interview
-fan of the war of art
new fan of The Professional Mindset
Sandra Harrison Kay
I’m the retired aunt of whom you speak. I had a so-called career as a community college writing instructor working at three colleges, always hustling, free lancing, nothing sure from term to term. So many retirees also must become entrepreneurs…
Thank you, Steve! I’m so looking forward to it and send you all my best!
[…] Just an important reminder from Steven Pressfield: […]
I need this Mr P! Great timing.
Just when I’ve been trying to figure out how to self-publish a book of my columns without having to mess with ISBN’s and DBA’s. I just want to write. I don’t want to run a business.
Et tu, Steve?
(Yeah, I know. Resistance. Yetzer hara. Oy.)
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