In his book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters, Jon Acuff talks about his comedian friend John. John says something that resonates so deeply with me and that is the foundation on which I base my creative life, even though I have never been able to express it so articulately. He says:
A failure would hurt a lot if I were only performing once a month or once every other month. There’d be a thirty- to sixty-day window for me to carry around that failure. I’d sit with it for all those weeks and it’d be really heavy. But with comedy, if I fail during the 7:00 pm show, I only have to carry it for an hour until the 8:00 pm show. It doesn’t have time to define me when I start again so quickly.
It doesn’t have time to define me when I start again so quickly.
Why do I send thirty pitches in a month, write every day, and start new novels the day after the previous ones have been completed?
Because if my creative works were to fail—and they do, as is the nature of the beast—they don’t have time to define me. I’m already on to the next.
I’ve had many courses and launches not sell as many spots as I’d have liked them to and that’s fine, because I’m always creating new ones. I’ve had many book projects splutter and fall apart midway through the process and that’s okay because I have enough creative ideas that I feel no desire to attach my self-worth to a single one. It didn’t matter that my first novel didn’t sell for the advance my agent was looking for because I had more novels already underway and there was zero desperation in either of us because neither of us are in this game to see one book succeed; I’m in this game to build a career and a body of work. I’ve had launches go spectacularly well with my books landing on the Amazon bestseller list with nothing but a couple of emails to my list and I’ve had books land with such a whimper, I wondered if they’d floated away. I’ve had $15,000 days and $800 months.
But it’s never really fazed me, the high or the low, because either way, I’m already on to the next one.
I care about what happens to my work and I put in a lot of time and effort into making sure that it succeeds, but as John says, “It doesn’t have time to define me when I start again so quickly.”
Last year was an incredibly insightful year for me, and one that was pivotal in my growth and my direction as a writer. After years of things feeling “not quite right,” and wanting to shut down the business because I was beginning to burn out and lose the passion, I was finally able to crack through, put aside all the distraction, and focus on the core of what I wanted to do. I created a business plan and a business model that is not only perfectly aligned to my skill set and what I want to do in the world, but also brings joy, ease, and wonder into my days.
I cannot express how happy I have been since making the decision and while, of course, it all takes time to put together, I now not only have a very clear direction, but I can see how all the chaotic, messy, seemingly different parts of my career can come together in a nice big whole and support one another.
This has been such a huge relief because every time I’ve hired a business coach or asked another writer for advice, I’ve gotten some version of “Pick one thing and get good at it,” and I have to tell you—that’s not who I am. I am lucky that I’m very specific about what I do—I write—but what I write is totally up in the air. I write news stories, feature articles, essays, how-to pieces, blog posts, non-fiction books, scripts for audio, scripts for video, reports, novels, these newsletters, and so much more. Not to mention that I love helping other writers do the same, whether that’s through courses, coaching, or building communities.
And now I have a clear path to bringing all of it together into a coherent whole and using all the skill sets and experiences to multiply, and not divide, my success.
I will have more to say on this in the future, but one of the key areas that I’ll be focusing on this year is CREATING MORE.
More articles, more essays, more blog posts, more audio and more video, and of course more books.
Always, always more books.
Something shifted for me at the beginning of this year, two years of meditation and journaling finally culminating in absolute clarity. And one of the biggest decisions I’ve made for this year is to write more, produce daily, and create often.
You can’t write more if you’re in fear and paralysis.
You can’t write more if you’re constantly doubting yourself.
You can’t write more if every hour that you sit down to write is a BIG DEAL.
You can’t write more if you’re sitting in judgement.
You can’t write more if you’re sitting in shame.
You can’t write more if you’re unsure of what to say and how you’re going to say it.
You can’t write more if you’re worried about what will happen to those words after you’re done.
You can’t write more if writing is anxiety, writing is pain.
I know this. I’ve lived this.
It’s also why I know that Write With Me 2020 is special and not like any other program that you’ve ever been through or will go through. Because I’m not just interested in productivity, I’m interested in the psychology that leads to that productivity.
And the psychology that doesn’t.
Only when you understand the WHY can you change the HOW.
I’ll help you understand the why, change the how, and show you how to make it stick. Not because I have magical tricks up my sleeve, but because I will help you see the reason you are stuck—and deal with the underlying issue that keeps you there.
Write With Me 2020 starts on February 1.
See you there!