Note: I wrote this post to myself while struggling to find the motivation to bring my stalled book idea back to life. I began writing full of excitement and then… it just petered out.
I started telling myself that no one needed my ideas. No one wanted yet another book on the subject. That everything worth saying had been said. And much better than I could say it.
If you’ve ever felt that way, I hope this helps….
How To Find The Courage To Become an Unstoppable Writer
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t let our people have guns. Why should we let them have ideas? Joseph Stalin
Is it hidden away?
That idea for a novel?
Is it holed up inside your brain? Safe from the bullets of criticism?
Or maybe you started. And then ran out of motivation? Or inspiration? So you put it away in some digital drawer, secure from prying eyes.
What do you tell yourself? You’ll pick it up again when:
- Inspiration strikes?
- The kids stop screaming?
- You find the time?
Or when they disarm the critics and declare an amnesty on all new writers?
Or are you waiting until the fear goes away?
As a writer, you may want any or all of those things to happen. But if you need them to happen – you’re already dead.
Dead as a writer.
Because even if they did happen, your brain would find another raft of excuses.
What you really need as a writer.
You might think Henry Miller pounded away at that typewriter hour after hour, week after week because he needed money (he was paid a dollar a page when he started writing).
Or that Haruki Murakami taps away day after day, month after month, because he lusts after fame.
There are safer ways to earn money. There are definitely easier ways to become famous.
So their motivation? The love of writing and nothing more?
If that were true, why did they face the firing squad of rejection slips? Why didn’t they just keep their head below the parapet? Secretly sitting in the alcove, keeping well back from view, writing just from compulsion, or desire?
Because they had an Idea. Nothing else.
To paraphrase Hal Lindsey (badly):
A writer can live about forty days without food, About three days without water, About eight minutes without writing,But only for one second without an idea.
Because Stalin knew what he was talking about. Ideas are more powerful than guns.
Ideas can change lives. Guns can only end them.
Ray Bradbury knew (as Stalin did) that you don’t need to burn books to stop ideas. You just need to stop people reading them.
If you haven’t put your idea out there, how can anyone read it? And if no one can read it, how can it change anyone’s life?
What good are ideas if they stay locked up in your head?
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Why you don’t write.
Look, I know you’re struggling just to get your butt in the chair. Struggling to find the time in between work, family, chores and life, to write.
Struggling to stop answering emails or going on Facebook. Because before you know it, it’s 2 hours later and you haven’t written a single word.
But it goes deeper than that, doesn’t it?
You’re struggling daily with that little voice in your head. The one that keeps telling you that everything you want to tell, has already been written and told.
That whatever goes down on the page won’t be good enough. That you don’t know why you’re even bothering to try writing, let alone dream of making it a proper job. That you feel like you’re playing at writing.
And I know that you’re scared.
Flat out scared that your dream to help, to inspire or simply to create a reaction in another human being is delusional.
That at the core, you’re writing’s not as honest as it needs to be. Simply because you don’t have the courage to make your writing truthful.
If you can’t find the time to write.If you can’t find the courage to write your truth.If you can’t find the motivation to start – and finish – your idea.
How can you change lives with your words?
It’s a scary thought.
Because if you can’t find it in you, then you’ll die with your song still inside you.
And your idea will die with you.
Does it matter?
But not for the reasons you might think.
Some people will tell you it matters because you owe it to yourself. You have to show the world what you can do. You need to finish that novel and send it out into the world.
But I don’t think so. As a writer you don’t owe yourself anything.
You owe your reader everything.
To paraphrase badly again:
Don’t ask what your writing can do for you.Ask yourself what your writing can do for your reader.
Unstoppable writers have an idea. An idea that could change someone’s life. Maybe a thousand lives.
Maybe a million.
That’s the unstoppable power of an idea.
Listen, If you write romance and you can make a lonely soul believe that true love exists for them out there, you’ve changed a life.
If you write humor and you can make someone laugh after they’ve had a train crash of a day, you’ve momentarily changed their life.
If you write pure escapist fiction that allows someone living in quiet desperation to escape their humdrum existence, you’ve changed a life.
If you write non-fiction and can show a stressed-out mother how to reconnect with her kids, or pay off her debt or just feel sexier, you’ve damn well changed a life.
It doesn’t matter if you are tired, or scared, or just de-motivated.
You owe it to them.
And sure, it’s all been written and told before. But that’s just another excuse you brain throws up to stop you putting your ideas in the firing line.
- There were children’s books before J.K.Rowling or Dr Seuss.
- There were romances before Nora Roberts or Catherine Cookson.
- There were detective series before James Patterson or even Arthur Conan Doyle.
And there was non-fiction before Tony Robbins or Stephen Hawkins.
Yet they all managed to find readers who wanted their ideas, their stories. No matter what had been written before.
What matters is that someone, somewhere is waiting for that idea. Your idea.
For them, its time has come.
And you are the messenger.
You need to find the courage to become an Unstoppable Writer, not for you, but for your reader.
Because when you truly believe that you can change lives with your words, you won’t have to dodge those bullets of criticism.
And screaming kids, facebook or Joseph Stalin himself won’t keep you from putting your butt in that chair.
Because you’ll be unstoppable.