Do what no one else can do



I was listening a few days ago to a guy giving business advice.

Ho-hum, right?


He said something intended for one context that held true in every human arena.

The advice?

“Only do what only you can do.”

He didn’t claim it was original material.

But it was the first time I’d heard anyone say it.

Only do what only you can do.

Think what that means for an author.

It means a writer is at his worst when he attempts to mimic another author, when he writes to a formula for the sake of pleasing “them,” whoever they are.

But, you say, doesn’t every writer want to be the next John Grisham, or James Patterson, or J.K. Rowling, or Harper Lee, or Ernest Hemingway, or William Faulkner, or — (fill in the blank)?

If that’s what the writer wants, she is destined to disappointment and failure.


Because each of those famous writers only did what only he or she could do.

The flip side is also true.

Those writers couldn’t do what only you can do.

You have a step up on them when it comes to being you.

The world is wide open for an author who dares to dig deep enough to bare her essence, the irreducible uniqueness she holds within her.

It is as if each author carries with her a treasure so personal that no other living soul can know it, or feel it, or grasp it unless the author articulates it.

Without that articulation the secret remains hidden, the treasure is lost in the sands of time, the agony is a whisper in a lonely forest, the love unrequited, the laughter flattened for lack of an audience.

Only do what only you can do.

When you sit down to write remember first who you are. Remember that no one but you brings your experiences to your writing desk. Embrace whatever it is that makes you tick right now, right here, in this place, after the heartaches, after the ecstasy, after the struggles, after the defeats, after the rejection, and perhaps even after the successes.

Only do what only you can do.

When you get that pure expression of yourself on paper, I’ll bet people will want to read it.

I know I will.




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