For a long time, one of my best friends was also my mentor and my coach. His name is Tony Blauer and he’s one of the world’s leading close-quarter combatives instructors. I basically grew up in Tony’s home. As an early teen, I studied martial arts with him out of his upper duplex in Montreal and when I lost a whole whack of weight back in the early nineties, I found myself being a gym rat in his life, once again. What I learned from Tony (and still continue to digest with each and every passing day) is that studying any of the combative arts is less about learning how to physically fight/handle oneself and much more about the mind, psychology and how we handle our emotions. Tony was (and continues to be) a voracious reader. While hanging out in his house and home office, I was exposed to volumes of books on topics as varied as business, personal development, spirituality, military and combatives. I spent a lot of time reading books like Living the Martial Way by Forrest E. Morgan, Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. One day, I noticed a shiny silver cover and the title of the book was The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
I picked it up and could not put it down.
It helped me better understand why I procrastinate (I used to live and die by the mantra, "if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done"), why I got blocked and how to write with a reckless abandon – knowing full well that the job was to get the words out and that I could spin them into the right words later. Prior to that, I would spend days and hours waiting for the right words. It was only years later, after following Seth Godin‘s The Domino Project and seeing him release your book, Do The Work, when I made the connection between that book and Do The Work. I was honored that you agreed to join me in recording a podcast and since then, I’ve delved a little deeper into some of your works of fiction (namely, Killing Rommel and The Legend Of Bagger Vance).
I picked up your latest book, Turning Pro, a couple of days ago (at the recommendation of Seth). The timing could not have been more perfect. I was at the tail end of finishing my second book, CTRL ALT DEL, and needed some extra motivation to push through some of the rough patches and cinch the conclusion. While I’m only about halfway through Turning Pro, it’s been a delightful read: full of nuggets that force me to crack open my brain, ask some very tough questions and do the thing that most of us dread: take a cold, hard look in the mirror and be honest about the work that we are creating.
I’m sure you get these types of notes each and every day, but thank you. Thank you for that new, little voice in my head that says to me: "do the work." Thanks for helping me clarify that bringing a blue collar work ethic to my work/art is the way that the work/art gets done. I now wake up, do my family things, get to the office and get to work. I no longer sit around hoping that inspiration will strike like a bolt of lighting. My entire framework for thinking up client ideas, writing, blogging, tweeting and more is driven by the ideas you have brought forward in The War of Art, Do The Work and now, Turning Pro. I know you have a deep passion for writing fiction, but I’m a massive fan of your thinking on creativity and how to get more out of our brains and muse, so keep writing in that genre too.
OK, enough of this… it’s time for me to get back to the work!
I was very moved by the book, Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon. Especially the section titled, Write Fan Letters. The truth is that I used to always write a note to the author of the book that I had just finished. I guess I got too busy (or read to many books or became lazy) to keep at it. In Kleon’s book, he recommends writing a public fan letter and ends the section by saying: "The most important thing is that you show your appreciation without expecting anything in return, and that you get new work out of the appreciation." It’s a beautiful concept. With your permission, I’ll be using this space from time to time to write these kinds of letters. Welcome to Project: Public Fan Letter. Feel free to do a few of them yourself.
Steven Pressfield fascinates me. In 2007 a colleague of mine gave me a historical novel about the Battle of Thermopylae. Years before that I had watched and enjoyed a movie with Will Smith and Matt Damon called The Legend of Bagger Vance. But it wasn’t until Seth Godin published the book Do the Work that I leaned and remembered Steven Pressfield’s name. It turns how he has a cult following of creatives that I know I will am about to join. It is incredible what he has done and what he continues to do.
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