How to tell if you're an Amateur or a Professional: self-worth and time away from the Craft

Heya folks!

First off, sorry for going dark on you for a few days. It was a crazy little stretch for me living in New York: having experiences, composting, and generally taking some time to collect my thoughts on my progress in standup so far.

I'm almost halfway through my time in New York (I'll have an official "halfway done!" post in a few days), but I wanted to take some time to evaluate my work so far, change course if necessary, and attack once again.

I think most artists need time to compost. Even if your conscious mind isn't working on the craft, often times your subconscious mind is. Steven Pressfield offers two views of an artist: The Amateur and the Professional. The difference is more than just that one does it for love, and the other for money.

In his view, an Amateur is an artist whose identity, personality, and day-to-day life is too intimately associated with the craft. They struggle emotionally when the work doesn't go well, because their sense of self is inextricably bound with the work.

The Professional is somebody who does the craft with discipline and constance, but who knows that they are a whole and separate person away from it.

I wanted to take a few days away from the keyboard, and hit some Mics in a more casual way, so that I could create that separation for myself. To be a professional artist, you have to have a deep and abiding love for what you're doing. If you didn't, the constant failure would be too much to take. But the failure is also too much to take if your sense of self-worth is too closely associated with it.

Even though my time here in New York is dedicated to improving my skill as a standup, it is important for me to remember that distance and time spent not directly thinking about the craft ultimately makes the end result more grounded and authentic.

I wrote this thought in my journal, and it is a valuable question for cerebral fucks such as myself who tend to overthink things: "What if I was the kind of comic who could not sit down and write my material?"

How would I write? How would I cultivate inspiration, recognize it, and use it when the moment struck? How would I develop material? What would this feel like if it were easy? In the words of Pete Holmes, this (comedy) is the Joy business. You have to remember what you're fighting for.

Thank you guys, and I'll see you all tomorrow! (for real this time)

-Jon

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