Pressfield says that accepting and even expecting misery as part of one's work experience is what separates the pro from the amateur. A pro shows up for the job day after day, even when it's boring, back-aching, humiliating and gross. She makes work a priority even though she has hayfever and needs to cram for a history exam and ought to visit her lonely grandpa. She does the difficult tasks, perhaps cranking her music, or joking and commiserating with coworkers, or dreaming of Bermuda. But the job, for all its misery, is a means to an end. She pushes through for the payoff--a paycheck.
In writing, one pushes through to a gripping story and a clean, error-free manuscript. Getting there may entail misery--insomnia and loneliness and boring Google searches and humiliating critique sessions.
Most of us start out writing for fun and as a form of play, and that's fine for one's early stages of development. But writing for publication requires taking things to the next level, Pressfield argues. Moving from amateur to pro. And the best training for that is developing a work ethic that can persevere through hardship and humiliation. For Pressfield, it was a stint in the Marines. I'd personally rather not handle firearms, thanks. But there are plenty of other unglamorous jobs that can provide the same mental and emotional training.
Have you worked crappy jobs? How have they shaped you?
*this is a repost from Sept. 2010