If you’re getting nowhere with your art, and you’re seriously wondering whether you’re just making a fool out of your self with your quixotic quest, here’s a bit of advice bestselling author Steven Pressfield received when he was in his fourties.
Pressfield had been pursuing his dream of being a writer for almost 30 years at the time, and nothing to show for it. No published novel, and the only paid work he’s done as a writer were things he’d rather not talk about. Stuff like a $500 rewrite of a porn movie, and eventually—this was the crowning achievement of his so far—a low budget action flick (which would never actually get made).
But the director of that action flick shared this advice with him:
“Keep working,” he said. “Don’t turn anything down. Porn flicks, slasher movies, free stuff for friends. Don’t get precious. You’re young, you’re learning. Keep working.”— Steven Pressfield, Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit
He cited three reasons:
“One, working means you’re getting paid. I know you’re getting peanuts for this job. It doesn’t matter. It’s money, it’s validation. Every buck means you’re a working pro, you’re toiling in your chosen field.
“Two, when you work, you learn. Everybody has something to teach you. A grip will show you something about lighting, an editor will drop some pearl about what to keep and what to cut. Even actors know something.
“Three, you’re making friends. Some kid who’s schlepping coffee today may be a producer tomorrow. He may buy one of your specs. An actress you do some free work for today may get you hired for a rewrite six months from now.”
So if you really love doing what it is you’re doing, and you’re simply not good enough at it yet, or you haven’t caught that lucky break, remember this: keep working.
Pressfield called this “the best advice I’ve ever gotten”. It worked out pretty well for Pressfield in the end. It might just do the same for you.