It’s a Kick in the Ass
I will write the Great American Novel by the time I’m 18.
I will write the Great American Novel.
I will write a novel.
I will write.
Between ages 14 and 40, my goals changed dramatically, from starting with the heavy weights to lifting manageable weights every day.
In the article, Steve talks about returning from a vacation and gearing up to get back to work. The first thing he says he’ll do is “stop myself from thinking in terms of immediate gratification.” Instead, he’ll make himself think in blocks of time, and gradually build into writing. He’ll “not use the big muscles yet.” Instead, he’ll stick to “the little ones.”
Steve’s process for returning from vacation is similar to the process of building a career.
My 14 year old thinking should have started with “the little ones” first.
I will write.
I will write an article.
I will write a short story.
I will write a novel.
I will write a novel someone other than my dad wants to read.
I will write a novel that will sell.
This past week, a few of you e-mailed to ask about the just launched The War of Art Mini-Course.
The theme of many of the questions? Is it worth the time for long-time readers of “Writing Wednesdays” and Steve’s books? Is there something new? Will it offer specific steps that will take me to a higher level?
It’s hard to answer these questions with a one-size-fits-all answer just like it’s hard to obtain one description of a flame from individuals looking at it through different panes of a multi-colored lantern.
Here’s what the mini-course did for me:
I know Steve’s work and have reread his articles and books numerous times. When Shawn asked Steve questions within the mini-course, I had a gauge on how Steve would answer in advance of him answering. I went into the course with a heavy load of background knowledge. At the end of the fifth episode, though . . . He still kicked my ass into gear. Why?
After listening to the mini-course, I started thinking about the five steps Steve and Shawn pulled out within the five-part mini-course.
- Identify Resistance
- Study and learn Resistance’s playbook
- Fight to overcome Resistance
- Understand the Hero’s Journey and Resistance’s role in the journey
- Embark on the Artist’s Journey and employ the tools forged during the Hero’s Journey (and keep fighting Resistance).
I’ve known the first four steps, and the fifth is one I’ve just recently give more thought to, via Steve’s recent “Artist Journey” posts via “Writing Wednesdays,” but the progression isn’t something I’ve spent time on in the past. Something about hearing Steve and Shawn talking vs. me reading the words. The rhythm of their voices. Steve breaking in on Shawn. Stream of consciousness. I wasn’t surprised by what they said, but I was surprised by what I took away.
Then I started going through all the linked articles in the additional reading sections. It was a bit like being reintroduced to an old friend. I hadn’t forgotten them, but I hadn’t thought of them in such a long time, that they weren’t at the top. I’d stopped considering the lessons shared. They reminded me of things I could be doing better myself. One example? Thinking in blocks of time.
I’ve struggled with blocks of time these past few years. Actually . . . If I’m being honest . . . I’ve struggled with blocks of time for about 15 years, ever since I added “Mom” to my list of titles. My dream work slipped. That stuff that comes as I’m slipping off to sleep each night, and swirls around inside my head? Shelved. I waited for a better time. Maybe when the kids aren’t babies I’ll do it. Maybe when the kids don’t have so many activities. Maybe when work settles down. Maybe after I take care of the roof damage caused by the hail storm. Maybe after I get that new computer or that innovative program. Maybe after I take that class. The Maybe list is long.
Going through the mini-course and all the additional reading was kin to turning a mirror on myself. I know there’s always self improvement work in need of doing, but it forced me to be honest with myself.
It also forced me to revisit my 14 year old self and realize that I had slipped into the heavy weights thinking again, which leads to absolutely nothing getting done.
Maybe the course will be a reminder for you, too.
Maybe you’ll be like that guy who wrote in and said he thought it was awful.
Maybe you’ll be like the other guy who wrote in with thanks.
I don’t know what the mini-course will do for you.
The only thing I can tell you for certain is this: If you are looking for a course that will provide you answers to all of your questions, this ain’t it. Steve can’t answer all your questions, nor can Shawn. This mini-course isn’t a magic bullet. Finishing it won’t put you on the bestseller list.
Maybe you’ll find instead that it is that thing you pull out whenever you’re struggling, and then when you do pull it out again, maybe it will remind you that you aren’t alone and prove to be the kick in the ass that it was to me.