Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Giant Step in the Right Direction

I’ll write tomorrow, never today
One day I’ll walk the Milky Way,
One day, some day—
But never today.

I quit writing four months ago. Quit completely. Cold turkey. I just couldn’t take it anymore: the pernicious self-doubt, the constant criticism, the self-sabotage, the panic at the thought of starting my next writing project and the despair of mediocrity.

So I decided to do something else. Surely, I could find something that was less frustrating and depressing. I decided to learn Pali, an ancient Indian language and to become a yoga teacher. Good decision. Wise, sensible, practical decision. I patted myself on my back and so did my friends.

Of course I was wrong and they were wrong. Writing is tough, more difficult than anything else but giving up writing is tougher.

I did move onto other things. The study of Pali. Yoga. Meditation. And the truth is I felt even more unhappy than before and life felt even more meaningless and empty.

I understood the truth of Gibran’s words:
“But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

However, I wrote almost daily. Three morning pages. Freewriting. Journaling. Hundreds of words. But for my eyes only. An audience of one. Safe from judgment, embarrassment and criticism.

And I still read blogs and books. Copyblogger. Men with Pens. Sean Platt. C. Hope Clark. Rex Stout. Tony Buzan.

Last week, I received a review copy of Jeff Goins’s ebook, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)I gained two key insights from the book:

  1. I have to believe in my abilities as a writer before I can expect my audience to believe in me.
  2. I have to take this writing thing seriously. I have to turn pro. I have to face the fear of failure and defeat it. No one else is going to do it for me.

The Damn Fine Words Writing Course Contest
Yesterday, through a meandering, serendipitous route, I reached the Men With Pens site (via Andy Fogarty’s Thrive site) and read again about the Damn Fine Words writing course. I had read all about it when James launched it the first time and thought not only that I couldn't afford it but also that I didn’t deserve to do the course.

I read all the details of the course yet again, especially the lines where James said that this course was her baby, her legacy, the ONE thing she really wanted to do, the ONE thing she really cared about.

It struck me then that the one thing I wanted was to be a good writer, the best that I could be. Whatever I wanted to achieve, I wanted to achieve through my writing. I wasn’t really interested in anything else: not in being a millionaire or having a rockstar lifestyle.

I realized the reason for my despair and frustration as a writer was because it was not enough to invest time and effort and to have passion and purpose. Equally or more important is to invest money to develop my skills if I am truly serious about becoming the best writer that I could be. And it’s not enough to buy a few $47 or $97 ebooks or courses. To become the best, I need to join the best online writing course.

I read about the first Damn Fine Words contest a few months ago. I thought it was an incredibly generous offer. All I had to do was to show up and I stood a good chance of getting entry to the best online writing course. But I felt so utterly defeated and depressed that I didn’t post an entry the last time even though I had nothing to lose. That’s why success isn't just being in the right place at the right time but also in the right frame of mind.

I thought that I had lost my one chance of joining her course but James is conducting the  same contest again. This time I am posting my entry and hoping to gain a full scholarship to the Damn Fine Words contest. That would be super.

However, I’m going to do her course anyway. In spite of my frustration with my writing, I have made about $600 by writing for sites such as Constant Content and Suite. (The one bright spot in my dismal writing career is that perfect strangers were willing to pay for my articles.) So I’m almost halfway there already. And if Andy Fogarty continues his win-win-win offer for the Damn Fine Words course, that will make it easier for me. So I plan to join the Damn Fine Words Writing Course, anyway, sooner or later. Whenever that day dawns, it will be not a day too soon.

The one thing that inspires me the most is the incredible generosity of people like James, Brian Clark, Johny B. Truant and Sean Platt. I am inspired that James is offering this scholarship for the second time. So if she chooses me and I win this contest, I plan to sponsor someone else in future for this course.

I haven’t figured out my mission or long term goals but I expect this course to help me with that. I know I’m on the right path and I’m taking it one step at a time. My first goal is to join this course because i know it will be a giant step in the right direction.

It's that simple!


  1. Hey Rohi,
    I hope you win this contest…
    And I also hope that you begin writing again… I know from personal experience how harsh it can be - you know that writing is the aim and purpose of your being, but then nothing comes from within you - you have things you want to say, but can't put them down on paper / screen! Its frustrating to say the least.
    But quitting - omg - that is even worse, because then you are saying to yourself that you aren't even ready to fight for it, and with it… Its like you are just giving up..
    So don't give up.. Keep at it - hammer at this resistance - burn it away - fight it out, and you will emerge the winner.. Then once the barriers are broken by this constant hammering, you will find the waters flowing once again! I promise!

    1. Hi Madhavi, thanks for the encouragement and good wishes. I agree with you, persistence is the master key.

  2. This is a refreshingly honest piece. thank you.

    I cannot remember who said this, but I'll never forget it: a successful writer is someone who never gives up.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.

    1. Thanks, Aneeta. Your comment reminds me of Winston Churchill's rousing speech: "We will fight them on the beaches, ... we will never give up."

  3. Good dear friend. It feels great to know you have started again. I think your honesty will keep you going.

    1. Thanks, Abizer. As usual, you express a lot in a few words.

  4. I agree with all the others here--there is an unmistakable honesty here....and that will keep you going.It a new beginning.All the very best for it.

  5. I feel writer needs to face the truth first, must have courage to express his inner truth, writing then flows automatically with or without a course.

  6. Thanks, I guess you are right. But it's a constant unremitting battle.