One Small Step
Or, A Tale of Two Neils
Are you a writer?
For years, I was amazed by how many people would answer this with something along the lines of “No, but I want to be...” I think the reason this answer jarred me so much is because I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. Not that I think I’m special or anything. Just, that was my self-identification.
But as I started to help other writers, and especially beginner writers, I began to understand better why this is a question for so many. I think at the heart of it is a misperception that to become a writer, you have to advance past all these levels like in a videogame. Or, maybe, a title that has to be conveyed upon you. Like, in order to be a writer, the Lady of the Ink Well has to toss you a fountain pen or something. And we feel like posers when she doesn’t... (Spoiler Alert: she never will. Because, you know, she doesn’t exist...)
You’re Not Alone
You may be surprised to hear – and maybe even thrilled – that some of the world’s greatest writers still feel like imposters on occasion. Take Neil Gaiman. He told probably the most wonderful anecdote I’ve ever read about imposter syndrome:
Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.
So not only does it happen to world-famous writers, it happens to guys who fly rockets to different worlds, too.
What to Do, What to Do...
Imposter syndrome is just one of the many problems we writers face that I’ll be talking about in this newsletter. Thankfully, they are all problems that we can overcome.
But first, let’s start with a very simple statement to clear up at least one misconception. Anyone can call themselves a writer. Anyone can be a writer. There is only one prerequisite:
That’s it. All we have to do is sit down, get a pen and paper, and take that one small step...
What to Expect from This Newsletter, To Write with Wild Abandon
Like the moon launch itself, that “one small step” is a huge simplification. It took NASA almost 10 years to figure out the math, physics, and engineering to get Neil Armstrong on that ladder to take his small step.
The good news is that for writers, the process is much shorter – and much simpler! But we have our own Laws of Physics to defy to get us there including:
Procrastination and Distractions
Lack of Goals
“Writer’s Block” (an interesting concept that will likely take several posts to unpack)
Taking Ourselves Too Damn Seriously
I’ll be covering all these topics and more to help you overcome these barriers.
If you’re a beginner writer, I’ll help you get in the right mindspace for writing and get you started.
If you are a more experienced writer, I have a lot to offer too. All writers – including, as we’ve seen, Neil Gaiman – have their foibles to overcome. Sometimes all we need are simple reminders. I’ll help you get past those feeling of self-doubt and “stuckness” so common among more experienced writers at various points in their careers.
I’ll show you how to write with wild abandon so you can reach your writing goals – and have fun along the way!
And Yes, Writing Should Be Fun!
First and foremost, I want to help you enjoy the writing process. After all, the more fun it is, the more you’ll write and the more productive you’ll be. I’ll be giving you strategies on how to make writing more fun so that you can’t wait to run down to your desk or your dining room table and get started.
Some upcoming topics, strategies, and tips:
What Does Writing with Wild Abandon Mean? (The namesake of this newsletter.)
The Importance of Having Fun
Setting Your Writing Goals
Facing the Blank Page (What is writer’s block and how can I avoid it?)
How Rituals Can Help You Become a More Consistent Writer
Overcoming Perfectionism (You may have it and not even know...)
What is “Serious Fun”?
I’ll also be taking questions, so feel free to add one in the comments below or contact me. And don’t forget to subscribe and get all my upcoming posts directly to your inbox. (And if you enjoy a particular post, please share with writer friend or group, too! Just click this link.)
I’ll ask again, are you a writer? If you said yes, then take that one small step with me by subscribing below. And if you said no, you definitely need to!
(You should receive a confirmation in your Inbox after signing up. If you don’t, please check your spam folder.)
Until next time, keep writing with wild abandon!
(See a typo? Please contact me and let me know.)