Friday, November 18, 2011

The Three Walls that Block your Way

Source. Copyright Activision

We all want to get somewhere.  Achieve something (even if it’s only the opportunity to achieve nothing).  As writers, most of us have a similar goal: Getting published, being widely read, being read by people who understand our work, etc.  The problem is that most of us never reach that goal because of a multitude of reasons.  Here are three points that stand in our way (there are more, but I think these ones are primary):

A lot of unpublished (or even just less successful) writers, including me, often avoid telling people what they do.  It’s because writing is not often seen as a “real job”, unless you’re selling books by the million.  For that reason, you limit yourself and your ability because you don’t even believe in your cause.  If you don’t tell people you’re a writer, you’re telling your mind that you’re not a writer. 

That impedes your progress as a writer because you’re still trying to convince yourself that you are “allowed” to do this.  In the end, it’s not the prejudices other people have against writers, but the prejudices you have.

A lot of people start out with the image of a writer being a dude in an office, smoking a cigar and wearing a tweed jacket (or is that a private investigator?), or whatever other image they have (maybe sitting in a café).  But the reality doesn’t often pan out to be this way and I think a lot of people are disappointed, either thinking that writing isn’t so cool after all, or deciding that they’re not good enough to write, or maybe that they can’t write while in their specific circumstances.

Either way, they give up and don’t make it, because they allowed their preconceptions of the job (yes, job) to get in the way of acceptance of whatever it is that’s bothering them.  The world will likely turn out differently than you imagine, but the trick is just to hang on until it evens out again.

While you keep your pride intact, the chances are pretty slim that you’ll actually get anywhere.  Why?  Because pride doesn’t allow you to make mistakes.  And the only way to grow is to take risks, and that invariably leads to mistakes.  Ergo, your pride stops you from growing.

As a writer, you might continue polishing that manuscript, but never take a leap and ship it, or you might get to the end of your first draft and see the problems, then decide that it was just a dummy run and throw it away, beginning from scratch.  Or maybe you just refuse to learn new ways to write because you know your method works and don’t want to try something that might break it.


In these three things, your way to the end you want is blocked.  You have to break down each to reach your goal.  I’ve certainly entertained all of these at least once (and some probably still), but it’s time to let go.

If you go on and push through, you’ll find new heights where new challenges await, but that’s just all part of the fun, isn’t it?


  1. Great post, Jake! I've been dealing with a lot of barriers this week, and it helps to be reminded that I'm not the only one who has to constantly work through them!

  2. Thanks. Good luck getting through them.