Stephen King has written 49 novels. Forty-nine.
Since 2000, Ryan Adams has released 13 records. He released five records—Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Lights, and 29—in 2005 alone.
King and Adams have a mutual admiration society. King has included excerpts of Adam’s lyrics in his books, and has said, “I won’t say that Adams is the best North American singer songwriter since Neil Young…but I won’t say he isn’t either.”
For Adam’s part, he has said that King “works harder and twice as fast and has more valid ideas than many people know how to deal with…”
Both guys are relevant, vital artists who are well respected in their genres.
In Steve Jobs’ (and others) words, “They Ship.”
How do they ship? How do they work through the laziness, the fear, the doubt and just produce over and over again?
While I’m not ultimately sure, Stephen Pressfield says that real artists work through all of these barriers—he calls them “The Resistance”—by doing one thing:
Becoming Professional. Being a professional means that you do “the work”—write, research, create, play—no matter what. It means you arrange your life in order to facilitate this work, and that you remain relentlessly focused on getting the work done. You make an appointment to write; to sketch; to play; to sculpt. You don’t wait for “inspiration,” because inspiration is capricious, and is easy prey for distraction.
Someone asked William Somerset Maugham asked if he only wrote when he was inspired. He replied that yes, he only wrote when he was inspired, but that fortunately inspiration struck at 9am every morning.
Okay, okay, we got it: professional. ship. Got it.
What does this have to do with faith?
Simply this: as God’s people in the world, we are charged with being transformed in God’s likeness; bearing fruit, producing works of righteousness out of the overflow of the love of God in our hearts.
We have work to do.
Unfortunately, most of us never dream of the fact that we could be as prolific as Ryan Adams or Stephen King; furthermore, we have a tendency equate “professionalism” with “mechanical”, “detached”, and “unemotional”.
However, do you think Stephen King isn’t passionate about writing?
Do you think Ryan Adams’ music is uninspired?
So often, we save our spiritual “work”—praying, worship, service, scripture study, meditation, etc.—for the times when we feel inspired. We would never think about becoming “professional” Christians, until we consider that we have something to ship: namely our gospel-infused lives.
If we consider our lives as a work of “gospel art” than we realize—like Ryan Adams and Stephen King—that nothing else matters besides “shipping our art.”
And the best way to “ship” is to become a professional.
A professional Christian. We pray; We don’t wait for inspiration. We worship; we don’t wait until we feel like it. We embrace community; we don’t wait until it’s convenient.
- Is your life arranged in such a way to become a professional? Are you still relying on inspiration—rather than faith and determination—to foster the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life?
- Can you make an appointment to pray, to read the Bible, to worship, each day?
… Because the most important thing is to get the work done…
… To have our lives transformed…
… To produce fruit…
… We have lives to ship.