#MakingIt as a WRITER



hello believe nation I started the making it series to try to look at people who've had a lot of success in a particular field or industry and try to learn from them so that if you have the same aspirations the same goals to be successful in that market you will be able to learn from some of the best so today we're going to learn about making it as a writer tip number 10 is my personal favorite and make sure to stick around all the way to the end for some special bonus clips and as always if you hear something that is motivational inspirational leaves an impact on you please leave it in the comments below and put quotes around it so other people can enjoy as well I often get asked by younger readers what I would advise if you want to be a writer this is the way I did it so that's the only advice I can give you've got to read as much as you possibly can because that's the best way to recognize good writing and to learn what makes bad writing and those are very good things you'll probably go through a phase where you imitate your favorite writers that's perfectly okay that's another learning process you resign yourself to writing lots and lots of rubbish you just got to write that out of your system and sooner or later you'll hit what what you know you really should be doing and what is your genre and perseverance you've got to persevere because it is a it's a career with a lot of knock backs but the rewards are huge I don't mean in the sense that if that's what you really want to do to be able to do it life long is the best thing in the world very rewarding but it's not a career for people who are easily discouraged that's for sure and to their parents don't tell them it's unrealistic never to never say that because even if they're not published writing well writing is the passion of my life so it's an important thing to do the best description of writing a novel that I ever heard it's actually in Thomas Williams this book the hair of Harold drew which is about a novelist trying to write a novel and it just covers like one or two days in this process and a lot of things happen too it's a fabulous book but he says that writing a novel is like building a little campfire an empty dark plane and one by one these characters come out of the dark and each one has a little pile of wood and they put it on the fire and if you're very lucky before the fire goes out it's this big bonfire and all the characters stand around it and warm themselves and that's the way it's always been for me I have a good friend over in Vermont John Irving and John says that he always begins a novel by writing the last line and to me that's like eating your dessert before you eat the meal and I don't I everybody works a different way and God bless John and he's done some wonderful work in his lifetime and he'll probably do some more but I could never write a book that way the way that I think of it you know is that fire I love that particular image but I've also always thought of it in terms of there's a little thread a little red thread that goes into a hole in the baseboard and you just start to pull it out and you see what's on the other end of it and sooner or later you get there for me the fun of writing novels isn't in the finished product which I don't care about that much there's a guy who's looking at my shelf over there all the books are on the shelf and to me those are like dead skin the things that are that are done but I love the process my my personal legend was always to be a writer and and finding your personal agent does not mean fulfilling your personal legend because being a writer means writing books I cannot just sit and say okay I'm a writer so you write a first book it makes me or not be successful then there's the next one there is a third one and all of a sudden I realized that you know your book your books are doing very well and you fear success you have this moment that you think oh my god should I write the next book do I need to be judged again by the critics etc and then you realize that your personal legend is about moving on go if you if you give the dream of becoming a writer write books don't be paralyzed by either success or failure so I'm in the process I'm on the journey of my personal legend not to fulfill it but to live it as full as intensely as I can my strategy has always been you can't you have to very consciously differentiate yourself from where you think your professional peer group is going so the to the extent that people are might extend to people migrate to things that are accessible online I feel I should migrate to things that are inaccessible online so the value or to extend to people stop reading books and read I feel like I need to read more books so I bench what I've been trying to do is to kind of it's why I spend a lot of time in actual physical libraries reading things in a hardcopy because there's a kind of a serendipity that you get when you this is not anyway man does it criticism by the way of search engine is for example which are incredibly useful but they are but they you know they also have limitations they reward a certain kind of serendipity and they punish another kind of serendipity right and if you really want to if you're interested in serendipitous learning as I am much of what I uncover is uncovered serendipitously you have to be a student of all of the different mechanisms of chance encounters with the unusual and the insightful and so that means that not only do I spend a lot of time screwing around online on databases but I also very very consciously make sure that I go to physical libraries and walk through the stacks and even something as simple as you're interested in one book and then you go and you just look at all of the books that surround it right and the connections are not always the connections are there's their connections between them but it's a different kind of connection than they would be connected online it's not a keyword connection right it's a thematic connection or it's a so as always sort of you have to be a student of these kinds of of the the different ways in which ideas cluster and so that and I've been I thought a lot about that in recent years as a way of distinguishing myself from other journalists I had done the Fantastic Four and the x-men and my publisher said hey they do and well do another one so I came up with spider-man and I said to him I got this great idea I want to quote spider-man and he's a teenager so I gave him the idea and he said stand that is the worst idea I have ever heard he said first of all people hate spiders you can't call it hero spider-man secondly he said he can't be a teenager teenagers are only sidekicks and finally he can't have personal problems don't you know what a superhero is so he wouldn't let me do it one day we had a book we were going to kill called amazing fantasy when you're going to do the last issue nobody cares where you put in it just to get it out of my system I put spider-man in the book and we sold it and it was a best-seller so my publisher called me in a couple weeks later to stand you remember that character spider-man that you and I liked so much why don't you do a series of it that's how Spidey was born with creativity even my failures the stakes are so low you know I mean this is the thing that I'm always trying to tell people about artistic endeavor the stakes are so low the stakes are so low like very rarely is somebody going to die or have their heart broken or have their life upturned because a poem that you wrote didn't work you know or an essay that you tried to write didn't work if I write a book and people don't like it they're not going to come to my house and shoot me you know what I mean I mean it's and be exaggerating but it's I think sometimes we in the world realm of creativity to blow the stakes up to something so much higher than they possibly are I've heard a lot of comics say that the fantastic thing about doing stand-up which i think is the scariest of all art forms is to bomb and then to walk offstage and you're like I oh that didn't work and I'm still here that's amazing the worst possible thing that could happen happened and nothing happened you know I'm still intact I'm still in one piece so so my creative failures have that feeling to them where it's like wow that totally didn't work and I'm totally fine we're all going to live it's totally fine first even though I'm not a fiction writer at this point who knows maybe I'll try that and make a mess of things but bird by bird first for all the psychological trials and tribulations bird by bird is the book that I read when I feel like I'm going into the abyss or having a complete meltdown it's a wonderful book for getting out of that but I also would say like when you're stuck when you're not sure what to write tell a story so you like show and don't describe it show it so if you're like oh how should I describe this point do this do that like bullet point this bullet point that give an example give a story and just so what's an example of how you did that in the 4-hour workweek uh well anytime I I hit a sticking point which was very very very often I would there are a couple things that I would I would ask myself who whose story can I tell like who embody is this point or this principle I mean Jack obviously is a master of this style of storytelling and secondly Poe Bronson who's a great writer and has written many many good books at one point I heard him on a panel and somebody in the crowd asked him about writer's block and and you said well when I get writer's block I think about what makes me really really angry and I read about that and it's actually fantastic advice if you write about what most frustrates you why it frustrates you and then like what you did about it uh you usually come up with something good and I would also emphasize so I have a lot of thoughts on this but like the book is the most important thing you need to bake the product the market heading into a good book like that's that for me that is almost all of it and then the rest a lot of it takes care of itself but what I would say is make your quota really small so two crappy pages a day that's your quota for me that's the only way I can slog through a bush I could not happy pages a day this idea of two is is I think we're hitting the number two yeah all right yeah I cannot think of a book or I'll just want to like cry into my pillow and go to sleep I can't do it for many years before I wrote the power of now and he became successful I was basically a failure in the eyes of the world so he's already almost 50 and what has he achieved my mum said you have thrown away your life you had so many possibilities in your life you walked out of graduate school in Cambridge why did you walk out of there you my mum and many other people said this person has failed in life he has no job he has no insurance policies nothing no pension plan just almost nothing in the bank failure and then a few years later people bought the path now and became a best-seller Oh a big success okay if I had arrived my identity at that time from what the world was telling me or my mind would have told me if I have been listening to my mind I would have been very unhappy and I didn't know I was fine because my density wasn't derived from that anymore and fortunately even when in the eyes of the world I suddenly became a success I don't want to derive my identity from that it's it's a cheap substitute for who I really am so I'm not I don't see I don't arrive but the satisfaction it comes is the satisfaction that the work that's happening the teaching that's happening is transforming people's lives that's very satisfying I don't get any personal satisfaction though because it's not I don't feel it as this separate me produced it I want you to get over this notion that I find so annoying that so many people have that success and power in life is dependent on something like genetics like some people are born with a larger brain or they have wealthy parents who are able to send them to the right school or or it's all a matter of luck what really makes people successful and powerful in life and it's not just me saying this I read hundreds of books on the subject what makes people successful is their degree of motivation ok I could repeat it a hundred times but it's true every time I say it when you are motivated when you feel yourself emotionally engaged in the subject you learn faster you learn what could take somebody 10 years to learn you can learn in two years when you feel emotionally engaged with something you're able to push past ops all the obstacles the sense that it's genetics or the size of our brain or our parents money you can't control any of that obviously and they could become kind of crutches for some people but the amount of motivation you feel the emotional connection you have to what you're studying or doing that is something within your control that is something you can choose to take and it is you're going to find people giving you all kinds of great advice about your careers about where you should go you know for your MBA etc but if there's one piece of advice that I think is more important than that is that is it is this idea of following this these natural inclinations and creating your own career path and finding a way to engage the deepest motivating parts of your psyche if you're feeling particularly at a creative low point where you get your inspiration from to come up with such amazing tales and amazing subject matter to write stories about um what you've actually done there is asked the question that must not be asked of righties you've rephrased ever so slightly but what you fundamentally does say where do you get your ideas and writers are awful to people who ask us where we get our ideas we we get mean we don't just get mean we get mean in a right tree way which means we'll make fun of you and and we do that not afraid and the reason we do that is because we don't really know and we terrified the ideas will go away so every writer I know has a funny answer and and you know Harlan Ellison used to say that he got them from a little idea shop in Schenectady and your writer who when asked would say he gets them from the idea of the Month Club and people go really here's all you every month they send you an idea the truth is I think um for me inspiration comes through a bunch of places desperation deadlines a lot of times ideas will turn up while you're doing something else and most of all I think ideas come from confluence they come from two things flowing together they come from essentially from daydreaming it's that point and I suspect there's something that every human being does writers aim to train themselves to notice when they've had an idea it's not that they have any more ideas or get inspired more than anything else we just we just notice when it happens a little bit more but you're just thinking you you go wow you know everybody knows that if you get bitten by a werewolf when the moon is full you will turn into a wolf you know that there's that moment where you sitting thinking so what happens if a werewolf bites a goldfish and or that moment where you start thinking well actually what happens if a werewolf sinks its fangs into a chair and what if you're sitting in that chair and the moonlight touches it and slowly it starts feeling more and more wolfish and then it growls and and you know and then what about the oh my god then then you'd have to set it in the winter because you'd need the snow for people to try and figure out why you've got chair leg marks in the snow by the body that's that it's throat ripped out and suddenly you have a story so that's so it's a lot of it is daydreaming I wish there was something I always feel I'm in some ways disappointing people when they ask where do you get your inspiration because what they really always want is the answer they want you to be able to say well what you do is 11:58 at night you go down to the cellar you roll the goat bones there'll be a banging on the door it will open this thing will fly in it will explode you'll have a something like a chocolate you eat it you have an idea I don't know you make him out out of your head thank you guys so much for watching I'd love to know what do you think of the video do you like this series is making it series should we continue it is there another field that we should do next I'd love to get your feedback and from this video in particular which clip did you love the most that resonate with you the most what did you take from it that you're going to apply to your business to your life somehow leave all of that in the comments below I'm going to join in the discussion thank you again for watching I believe in you I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is much love I'll see you soon I'm a firm believer that everyone should write and self publish their own books and there are many reasons I'll give a few of the reasons first off I've written 18 books I published with traditional publishers on 6 or 7 of them and I published self-published through Amazon the rest about 12 of them 11 or 12 of them my self-published books have made me a lot more money than my traditionally published books why is that for one thing I can write and upload them much more quickly when you work with a traditional publisher takes a year and a half from beginning to end to write and publish your book but I can write a book you know over the next few months upload it to Amazon and once you upload it to Amazon its published and then you get 70% of the revenues as opposed to let's say 10 to 12% of the revenues with a traditional publisher so just in general you make more money with a self-published book and by the way one of my books choose yourself which I encourage you to read I'm self promoting here but choose yourself probably has sold and made me more money than all of my other books combined and that was a self-published book the other thing is for finally in our society the gatekeepers are going away and I think the publishing industry is the best example of that I mean I've been writing and trying to publish books since probably the mid 90s and I wasn't very good at first I published my first book with a traditional publisher in 2004 and then I started self-publishing when the stigma started to remove itself from self-publishing around let's say 2009 and 2010 around the same time at Amazon launched their self-publishing program and by the way I have nothing to do with Amazon I'm not trying to sell any self-publishing services but I just love this so much and I love writing and I also think now is the first time in history that you can publish a book and actually uh you know not you're not you don't have to wait for some publishing company to say yes or no to you which publishing companies have many reasons why they say no very few of those reasons have anything to do with the quality of your writing or what you're saying so by all means if you have something to say a story to tell values you want to express then write a book and self publish it all it takes is the book of course and hopefully you write a good book making the cover getting a book edited and then you upload to Amazon and it's done what's another reason what you why you might want to self publish well for better for worse it's one thing if you have a business card to show people but if you hand people oh and here's my book on the topic people are going to say oh my gosh this guy sat down and wrote an entire book on this topic that's incredible so it gives you this air of more validity more legitimacy and that can lead to speaking engagements consulting other opportunities other career opportunities I can tell you it's led to all of these things for me it can lead to other books that you might want to write on the topic once you see how readers respond to you I also want to add a lot of books and stories that went on to become so I've been talking about nonfiction primarily but a lot of books and stories that have been very successful in the fiction world started out as self-published books the Martian it's an oscar-nominated movie and originally Andy weir the author who's been on my podcast he self-published it and then I forgot which publisher picked it up but then it became picked up by a major publisher but only after he sold several hundred thousand copies of it while self-published another example whether you like the book or not was one of the most successful books in the past 50 years Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a self-published book after it sold several hundred thousand copies I think Random House picked it up and it became published a lot of books that you read now that are very important for entrepreneurs or personal improvement and personal development originally started as self-published books or still are self-published books many successful authors have moved into the self-publishing arena because they get to be in charge now of marketing they get to be in charge of design packaging they get to be in charge of how they price the book they have more control over when the books released so a lot of professional authors have moved from mainstream publishing to self-publishing just because they're simple it's easier and they're more successful at it and they make more money at it so again if you have something to say and for me always wanted to write and publish a book a bet but many people have and sometimes it's not always the most commercial thing so publishers are not going to agree to it but by all means self-published now you have it in your hand you could hand it to business associates you can hand it to friends you can share with your family and who knows it might become a huge best-selling book as well which we've seen in many cases so by all means finally the opportunity is here to self publish I read a lot about this please check out what I've written about please check out my podcast on the topic I have no I'm not trying to sell you anything with this I have no affiliation with Amazon or any self publisher but I know it's worked for me and I really want to share this success with you guys every pursuit no matter how glamorous it may seem no matter how exciting you are it feels to you no matter how much you feel like you were born to do it comes with a sandwich and so the question is not what do I love the question is what do I love so much that I don't mind eating the sandwich that comes along with that thing so for me in my life writing is the thing that I love and the sandwich was the 7 years that I was not getting published and that I was coming home from my job as a diner waitress as a bartender as an au pair as a somebody who worked in flea markets as a cook and I was coming home tired and smelling like other people's french fries and sitting down and doing my real job which was to write and then to go to the mailbox the next day and get another rejection letter and then say do I still want to do this cuz this so much sucks you know and I did still want to do it and now even as somebody who makes their living as a writer there's no end to the sandwiches it's like um oh hello horrible review in prominent newspaper um that's your sandwich today was you still want to do this work yeah yeah I still do still worth it like Hello um awful comment on social media from somebody who thinks you're a pile of talk you know it just has like chosen every possible way that they can just cannot get it out of their system fast enough how much disregard they have for your entire life yeah still want to do this thing yeah I still want to do it you know so that's the question because if the first time you encounter this sandwich you're like well this this isn't worth it then that's not the thing you're supposed to be doing yes um and there are plenty of things in life that that I have run into the ship sandwich I've been like so not worth it so not worth it like this is not I don't want to do this like whatever the bed alleged benefits of this thing yes might be know what down for SoulCycle no you know like I know it's probably really good for me but I feel like throwing up right now is too hard no um you'll not be seeing me here again you know like I'm and I love my sisters at SoulCycle I just don't like feeling like I'm going to throw up when I exercise so it's not for me you know and and so that's the question so if you go into this thing thinking if I follow my bliss and I live my dream and I stand in my truth then everything will be great it doesn't mean everything will be great it just means at the end of the day when you check in with yourself and you go in the end on the balance is this still better than not doing it and the answer is still yeah this thing is still better than not doing it then you're on the right path when you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you're doing this is great people who know what they're doing know the rules and they know what is possible and what is impossible you do not and you should not the rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them and you can if you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do and because nobody's done it before they haven't made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again

20 thoughts on “#MakingIt as a WRITER

  1. Please Evan C. Keep doing these amazing work. I ve been following you for a while. And the way you synthesize your videos. Thank you so much. Much love from Brazil

  2. Evan Carmichael: Now you have me watching all writing videos, I am so feeling like writing is it for me. I am now even researching famous Aquarius writers. Gosh I can't shake this feeling I am now feeling.

  3. This one, Elizabeth Gilmer’s and Neil Gaiman’s have been the videos that most encourage me as a writer, because I’m the only one around in my life that really cares and believes that I can do it professionally, so, sometimes we need a little push from outside or it gets overwhelming.

    Thanks, Evan, for your great work. You surely know how to make me remember to believe in myself.

  4. The last one is what I like the most. It’s hard for me to follow rules to write because I just want to write. Yesterday, my son was upset because we’re going to move next summer. I don’t know how to empathize with him, so I wrote a story. And he calmed down after I read the story. He laughed at the end because I put some humor by including myself in the story. All I know was, I was emotionally engaged while typing up. I was able to finished 5 pages story. I actually don’t know what was the genre that I wrote.

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