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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ReverbNation: 'The War of Art' by Steven Pressfield

I was recently asked by a comrade in arms this question: "How did Ranger School best prepare you for a career in the music industry?"

I don't get to share much with many fans about my previous life as a US Army Infantry Officer, so I wanted to make an honest attempt at answering this one: 

Really good question, we should post this up on Reverb Nation:

At first I never really thought there was a harmony that existed, because it doesn't seem logical that the two worlds of highly intensive military training and creative songwriting/music production mesh together. A good friend of mine and fellow electronic music artist Anomaly (US) recently shared a great book titled 'The War of Art by Steven Pressfield' that changed my mind on this particular subject. Pressfield is a bestselling author and his second major novel was 'Gates of Fire,' which oddly enough, I believe all cadets are still exposed to at my alma mater: The United States Military Academy at West Point.

'The War of Art' focuses on the "examination of internal obstacles to success," then shows how to "identify, defeat and unlock the inner barriers to creativity." Within that construct, Pressfield also talks a lot about the differences between amateurs and professionals, then explains how to properly transition to a higher pro level. As it pertains to Ranger School, there is a chapter in the book titled 'How to Be Miserable' that struck home with me. Pressfield spent some time in the Marines; this is an excerpt where Pressfield shares his experiences and how they made him a better author:

"The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable.

This is invaluable for an artist.

The Artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.

The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell."

There's never a finite path or easy road to establish yourself in the music biz, that's for sure. Somehow I will always think back to those 8 months I spent battling to earn my tab (normally a 2 month course) and say to myself "as bad as things seem, surely they won't get as bad as Ranger School..." Beyond that, I believe earning the tab gave me a solid measure of my mental and physical limits - so now I am able to draw strength and inspiration from the positive aspects of that brutal scenario.

It's a difficult transition and a unique fit, but understanding both worlds can creatively work to the artist's advantage. Thanks for reading!