≡ Menu

Book Giveaway! – Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

When I got back from New York (book deal stuff!), there was a package on the doorstep. Inside the packaged was a lunchpail. “Hmm…I didn’t order a lunchpail,” I thought. It looked like this:


Inside the lunch pail, which sported the logo of a boxing glove with the words Black Irish inside, various Steven Pressfield books spilled out at me. The War of Art and four copies of his new book and follow up, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work.

One of the copies had this inscription:

For Josh, who doesn’t need it. Your pal, Steve.

(incidentally, I have to disagree with him. I still need a lot of the advice in Turning at times, but I didn’t put up much of an argument).

Well, there are only a few things you can do when one of  your favorite authors decides to unexpectedly reach out and send you a gift, and autographs. I yelled. I clapped my hands. I got goosebumps. I showed my four year old. He didn’t care, but he liked the lunchbox, which is now full of marbles and crackers.

And then, of course, I sat down to read. Turning Pro is every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. No surprise there, not for me.

Essentially, Turning Pro continues the points outlined in War of Art.Namely, that if you feel compelled to do something creative with your life–writing books, painting, singing, sculpture, etc–and you do anything else, that it will drain you and agitate you and drive you nuts because you’re not doing what you’re meant to do with your life.

Anything that keeps you from doing whatever your creative work is, is called resistance. Turning Pro is not exactly a manual for overcoming resistance. It is a retelling of how Pressfield overcame his own terrors about writing. About how he got over the feeling that his creative passions were somehow reckless and irresponsible and less noble than the steady (if often unsatisfying work) of trucking and other jobs.

What exactly does it mean to “Turn pro?”

Let me give you a few examples of chapter headings about the characteristics of amateurs and you’ll see the direction of the professional:

  • The amateur is an egotist
  • The amateur lives by the opinions of others
  • The amateur permits fear to stop him from acting
  • The amateur is easily distracted
  • The amateur seeks instant gratification
  • The amateur is jealous
  • The amateur lacks compassion for himself

You get the idea.

Turning Pro is a big pep talk. If you’re the type of person who thinks this sounds good, then you’re probably the type of person who could benefit from it. I know people who have read it, rolled their eyes, and said, “Yeah, but there’s nothing applicable in it. It doesn’t tell you how to really do any of it.”

I agree, and it probably wasn’t written for those people. I think that’s one of the book’s strong points. It doesn’t pretend it can say “Here’s how you go about creating art.” It doesn’t teach you how to make art. It doesn’t teach you how to leave a job, where to find cheap insurance, how to write better, and so on. What it does, for me, is provide an example of someone who is finally living his dream and who admits that:

  • It has been/still is terrifying at times
  • The choice wasn’t easy
  • The successes haven’t come with immense financial rewards, but the psychological/emotional/spiritual benefits have been immeasurable
  • The decision to defeat your own personal resistance must be faced over and over and over. It’s a conditioning process that might never go away

There’s more. So much more. By this point, I imagine you know if you want it, and I’m happy to announce that for three of you, the price (free!), doesn’t get any better.

If you’d like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment. Use your real name. Tell me why you’d like the book and if you’re an artistic type, or if you’re struggling with resistance in your life, I’d love to hear about it if you’re comfortable sharing.

I’ll do the drawing on Saturday, June 30.

Oh, and if you want to join the book club, I won’t stop you.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gypsy June 18, 2012, 10:46 am

    Yes I am an artistic type. When I started reading this post I wasn’t really interested in the book and though it’s on my list I haven’t read The War of Art yet. By the end of the post I definitely wanted it because this sentence “that if you feel compelled to do something creative with your life” … “and you do anything else, that it will drain you and agitate you and drive you nuts…” is completely and utterly where I am right now.
    I have lots of external resistance; 4 children among other things, and so much going on that I’m so scatterbrained that I can’t even pinpoint what it is I need to be doing creatively to fill my soul.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2012, 10:49 am

      What kind of art do you do?

      • Gypsy June 18, 2012, 9:50 pm

        Paper arts mostly. Some digital stuff. Plus I write, but not often enough. I should be creating ‘things’ for children because I’m awesome at it. But I’m too busy doing it for my own crew of 4.

  • Chris B June 18, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I read The War of Art several years ago and resistance is STILL kickin’ my ass! BUT, at least now I KNOW what it is and have to acknowledge that fact no matter how I try to hide and make all sorts of excuses for why I am not working. Excuses that sound perfectly valid to someone who doesn’t have access to what is inside my head.
    And a really sneaky way that resistance has to tangle you up is to come up with lots of really cool ideas for other art stuff you could do when you get close to sitting down and actually DOING something. You, know, like the “I’m going to get serious about working on my jewelry now, … but I really think drawing is cool, and … ooh, just saw some really great pyrography jewelry (wood burning) so maybe I should try that …” In other words, ooh, look, SHINY!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2012, 4:35 pm

      Do you make jewelery?

      • Chris B June 18, 2012, 4:48 pm

        I have been known to – not on a regular basis and not professionally although I am trained in gemologist.

        Actually, I am what some people refer to as a “scanner” which means I get really interested in something until I get interested in something else! But, yes, jewelry is always circling around in there somewhere.

  • John Sifferman June 18, 2012, 12:41 pm

    I’ve never been the artistic type, at least not in the traditional sense. And now that I think about it, art class was among the most frustrating in my elementary school years. I just didn’t “get it.” But nowadays, I’ve found a way to enjoy creative expression through writing. I think it’s because I’ve never considered myself an effective communicator. I can recall countless times not having the right words to speak my mind and struggling to bring substance from my thoughts. It’s been a lifelong frustration that probably bothered nobody on Earth except me, but thankfully, writing is changing that. Or, so my wife tells me.

    My first exposure to Pressfield was The War of Art, and ever since my first read-through, I’ve been ever more aware of the resistance in my life. I owe that to his work, and I’d love a copy of one of his other books.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2012, 4:35 pm

      I think everyone could benefit from writing in some way. Good writing starts with clear thinking.

  • Spencer June 18, 2012, 1:03 pm

    Here’s where I am (as if you didn’t already know).

    I NEED to write (and trust me, if this phrase annoys you or any of your followers, believe me, I get it. Someone said it to me once, someone not nearly as talented or creative or driven as I am, and I wanted to punch that person in the face).

    I am smart and talented.

    I have all the skills and drive and whatever to be an EXCEPTIONAL writer.

    AND YET…I don’t write. Not really.

    Even though I have a billion excellent ideas.

    Even though I have known for as long as I can remember that the only thing I ever really wanted to do was read and write and be awesome.

    I currently use all my talents and skills and charm and education to do just about the exact opposite of anything I ever wanted to do. And I don’t know how to stop.

    I am the epitome of STUCK!

    HELP ME!!!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 18, 2012, 4:35 pm

      Stuck in what?

    • Amy June 27, 2012, 12:42 pm

      What about doing the Artists Way program? I hadn’t written more than text messages since I finished my Master’s program until I read the book and started doing daily pages.

  • Gustavo | Frugal Science June 19, 2012, 8:33 am

    I like the man. I heard a podcast where he was interviewed by M. McGuinness (Lateral Action), a year ago. In there, he suggested putting in one hour a day in our creative dream. He mentioned director Steven Soderbergh dedicating his Oscar to those who make that attempt in regular basis. Since then, I have being trying to become part of those people.
    I have only finished 60+ pages of my book. I am guessing that, if I get lucky with the draw, I will take it as a sign of destiny to end that evil thing.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 19, 2012, 8:54 am

      “That evil thing.”

      Gustavo, read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. You’ll never find better descriptions of how awful writing can be.

  • Daisy (Tracy) June 19, 2012, 9:30 am

    This sounds like the encouragement I need. I’m feeling more confident as I experience small (not shallow, but small) successes, and “Turning Pro” might encourage me to jump into deeper water.

  • Libby June 19, 2012, 10:18 am

    I read “War of Art” years ago after some musician friends and I had completed a 7 songs in 7 days series. Apart from music, I’m a writer, teacher, hiker, traveler, and volunteer. There is no area of my life that this book doesn’t challenge me to go deeper, work harder and experience more fulfillment.

  • Elizabeth June 19, 2012, 10:20 am

    I read “War of Art” years ago after some musician friends and I had completed a 7 songs in 7 days series. Apart from music, I’m a writer, teacher, hiker, traveler, and volunteer. There is no area of my life that this book doesn’t challenge me to go deeper, work harder and experience more fulfillment.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 19, 2012, 10:39 am

      Elizabeth, is there anywhere we can hear your music?

  • Franci Claudon June 19, 2012, 10:28 am

    I am a Silicon Valley cubicle refugee – spent 20+ years in a career in Human Resources when I knew in my core that I am an artist. When I was invited to leave my last job I continued to dance around this desire and now, another 2.5 years later, am declaring myself an artist who actually believes she can earn a living from her art. The full story is much longer and is best told over adult beverages – fortunately now that I live in the Napa Valley those are not difficult to come by.

    Which is not to say I have it all figured out – I am a princess of procrastination (resistance). Steven’s books truly resonate with me – in fact I think its time to re-read The War of Art and have the sense I am experiencing exactly what Steven describes in Turning Pro – the shedding of a long held (false) identity and the creation of my authentic life. Isn’t that what art truly is after all?

  • Chris June 19, 2012, 10:49 am

    I’m a freelance writer trying to work myself out of full time work and into full time writing. It feels nearly impossible every day, but I keep trying.

    That’s why I need this book. I need the inspiration. I need someone saying that it is possible.

    I have dreams of writing a book, but I need a reminder to stay on track.


  • Nicole June 19, 2012, 11:26 am

    As a child, I could become fully immersed in an art project, completely self-motivated. When I reached high school the pressures of following a responsible career track steered me away from the creative world. When the opportunity to study art or design in college arose, my father refused to support me, so I did it his way.
    This led to failure after failure in the business world, probably due to self-sabotage. When I lost my father, I decided it was time to get my degree in art. Now, somehow I feel I’m behind the pack, so much time was lost. I am still afraid to embark on a career as an independent artist. I do sculpture and installations, which require tools, materials and a studio space. Financially, it’s just not viable. Regardless, I try to follow the advice in War of Art by showing up and just making whatever I can. I just find it frustrating because I’m still not doing what I want to do. I am the ultimate amateur, so I look forward to reading more about Steven’s battle with personal resistance.

  • mandee wyrick June 19, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I have an artistic personality but my ability is seriously lacking, if that makes any sense. I would love to get a copy of this book. Maybe it would help point me in the right direction. Thanks for the opportunity. 🙂

  • Ryan June 20, 2012, 9:49 am

    I feel artistically challenged…but maybe I have a sick affinity for the path of the most resistance. I would like to explore this book, as it may help me achieve balance.

  • Christine June 20, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Hi Josh! The book sounds amazing! I believe we have so many ways of seeing the world and one of the ways is through creative thought and “dreaming”. This is why I’d like to read your book. To open yet another avenue in which to view things. I’d say I’m artsy in the sense that I enjoy making a haven and comfort spot here at home. Does creativity in the kitchen count? Or perpetual dreaming?

    • Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2012, 6:09 pm

      I’m married to a very creative cook. I say yes, it counts.

      • Christine June 20, 2012, 6:15 pm

        I thought so!! After a delicious, creative concoction from the kitchen, it seems the mental juices just flow…..

        • Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2012, 6:37 pm

          I’ll take your word for it. Mrs. Librarian would agree with you.

  • Michelle June 21, 2012, 7:25 pm

    I wanted to comment but don’t put me in the drawing b/c I already have my copy of Turning Pro. Now I just need to READ IT. I am currently re-reading The War of Art with my college age son in the hopes that I will start doing instead of just thinking “Yes! This is exactly my problem!” when I read the book. Spencer’s story above is basically my story (except for the I know I have what it takes to be a brilliant writer part). You said that this book provides an example of someone who understands: “The successes haven’t come with immense financial rewards, but the psychological/emotional/spiritual benefits have been immeasurable”. Does he talk about how to be okay with that? Because everything in my upbringing and current society values work that pays and helps support your family, regardless of whether you like the work or not.

  • Doug June 21, 2012, 11:07 pm

    Thanks for the offer Josh. I finished The War of Art less than an hour ago, and am planning to read Turning Pro soon. Others keep encouraging me to write for a wider audience, but I keep putting them off. I love writing, it has always been the way I best express myself. At the same time, the resistance to pursue it more broadly is powerful. I am taking steps to daily fight that, and look forward to spending time with Steven’s insights in Turning Pro.

  • Mich June 22, 2012, 10:58 am

    Not the artistic type, but I am a teacher, and I have several students who are the artistic type. The more ways I have to help them find their internal motivation, the better.
    That said, I do see teaching as an artistic endeavor, and strive to be a professional teacher, not an amateur.
    Personally, I struggle with resistance in the physical fitness realm (cringe-inducing pun not intended).

  • Lana June 22, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I’m new to this site, but I have been swept up in the tornado of your excitement. I held my breath when you were describing
    that you were going to be publishing your first book. Then upon your return from New York, finding the lunch box, I was clapping my hands, too!
    You have awakened in me a joy that has been, shall we say, asleep for along time. I believe that artist’s are born. They are suppose to share their gifts with the world.
    I wanted to act. Even before I married, I made him promise I could continue acting. He broke his promise and became resistance. He made me choose between my being and him.
    I learned to live with the constant nagging that comes from denying your soul. That persistent pushing to get back on the right path. Only the artist is familiar with the voice from within that will never, ever let him alone until he is creating, that silent scream that leaves him pacing into the night.
    I will always be turning, always facing some resistance. The difference is I have joy.
    Thank you, Josh.
    You have touched a life.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 22, 2012, 2:24 pm

      Well Lana, thank you. that’s the nicest thing I’ve heard today. Good luck to us both.

  • Yelena June 22, 2012, 5:57 pm

    Dear Josh,

    I just stumbled onto your website! I’m an actress and a first-time writer writing a one-person show for myself (with a deadline in December). ‘The War of Art’ changed my life. I had never read anything like it. I’ve been recommending it to everyone who will listen for the last 6 months. It’s on my desk. I open it and check it every time procrastination kicks my ass. I just read about Turning Pro and I can’t wait to read it!

    • Josh Hanagarne June 22, 2012, 6:42 pm

      That is so cool. Where can I learn more about your show?

  • Amy June 27, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I’d love to read the book. Since the accident the children & I were in back in Nov I’ve been thinking about what to do with my life now that I am unable to do the work that I trained for and loved. Someday I may have physically recovered enough to return to it, but not anytime soon.

    A few summers ago we went to visit my Grandpaw (my Dad’s father) as he was dying of lung cancer and he told me that I should write children’s books. He knew I always enjoyed drawing and writing, he even had a book I wrote for him when I was a kid. I’ve always loved to create things, work with wood, sew, crochet, paint, draw, write, design and build. It’s in my blood. My Mom’s side of the family has made their living from their artistic ability for generations, but that is also where my resistance comes from.

    I have never pursued it professionally though because I feared my life would turn out to be like my GranDad and Granny. They never had enough money to support their family, moved them around constantly, were food insecure and it just isn’t the way I wanted to raise my family. So I went with a career that I knew I would enjoy, Exercise Physiology, because I knew I could help people and make enough to support my family.

    Now that I can’t do the work I did and my husband is able to support our family very comfortably the only reasons I don’t pursue it is because of fear that I’ll fail. At the very least getting back to the writing would let me share all my knowledge about the joys of Exercise Physiology with the world.

  • Don June 28, 2012, 5:41 am

    I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve not read Steve Pressfield. I grew up in a household where we did all kinds of crafts. Whatever Mom did, we did as kids: ceramics, cross-stitch (it was cool for Rosie Greer at the time), and whatever else caught her fancy. As an adult, I did leather carving, wood working, and wood carving. Currently, everything is about fitness, including attempts at writing regular posts for my work about health and fitness. I’d love to find that push I need to get out of my comfort zone.