Every so often Steven Pressfield puts together a little pep talk for creative folks. The first was The War of Art, which if you’ve never read then you can’t say you’re serious about the creative life. Sounds harsh, but there it is.
When the new one arrives, I sit down and read the pep talk almost or literally in one sitting. It usually drives me crazy wanting to go out and do the creative thing I’m working on and not stop until it’s out there in the world kicking and screaming.
Then I settle down, put the book away, and go on living my life. WTF is wrong with me?
Put Your Ass (where you heart wants to be) is an expansion of Somerset Maugham’s well-worn thought: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
It’s interesting that we treat the day job as an obligation and on a schedule but most of us allow creative work to come and go as it pleases. The successful creatives are the ones who practice, man, practice. They make sure they plant their tail where their heart wants to be on a regular schedule, and sit there until they produce the words or the music or whatever else it is that they create.
I blogged for 15 years on a “whenever I feel like it” basis, and then I decided to treat it like a daily obligation, and here we are two years later with my ass and my heart in the same place. It is sometimes a struggle, but there’s some comfort in knowing I’m here because I decided I had to be, so here I am.
When I reached Chapter 41, I stopped cold. I sat down and copied it word for word in my journal. It’s didn’t take long; When there are 81 chapters in a 138-page book, the chapters are short. It’s nine sentences. Two of the sentences are “This is the day.”
The meat is:
“This is the day. There is no other day. This is the day.”
That’s the whole point of the book in a nutshell. (The Maugham quote is also the whole point in a nutshell.)
Want to be creative? You have now, and nothing more or less.
So put your ass where your heart wants to be, keep moving, finish the work, and ship it. Thousands of books say this very thing, and so many of us still struggle anyway. (Including me — I did say “us,” didn’t I?)
It’s comforting and challenging to know we’re not alone — but the struggle continues anyway. It’s downright silly.
Maugham said it so beautifully. Listen to what he said. Hear what he said.
Set your own 9 a.m., whenever and wherever that may be.
And sit your ass down in that seat.