The writer’s cabin is a myth.

Every writer secretly believes in the writer’s cabin.

In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There’s a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we’ve written inside. There’s not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words.

For some, it’s a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture.

The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you’re a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

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Learning how to tell someone “no.”

I hate telling people “no.” Telling people “yes” is a lot easier and makes them seem to like me. Granted, I don’t like me in those moments.

I get mad at me. Why did I say yes to something I know I don’t want to do, something that I don’t feel called to do, something that I agreed to simply because I didn’t want to disappoint someone?

One of the reasons is that I’m afraid that if I tell someone no they will be angry. They will be hurt. They will shame me into saying yes or will demand I justify my no to them. That’s happened to me often.

I’ve learned an interesting lesson about that though.

If you tell someone “no” and they react in anger, they just confirmed you made the right decision.

If you tell someone no and they try to shame you into a yes, they’ve just confirmed you made the right decision.

If you tell someone no and they berate you, they’ve just confirmed you are a genius.

Say yes when you’re supposed to. Help as many people as you can. Be honest with your answer.

But when someone gets upset at your “no,” thank them for the confirmation and move on.



Don’t confuse 4 minutes with 4 years.

For Christmas, I gave Jenny a family portrait drawn by one of my favorite artists. His name is Bump Galletta and I absolutely love his illustrations. (You should check out his work!)

In addition to the portrait, he created a video documenting the process.

What’s interesting is that the video, shown in fast forward, only takes about 4 minutes to watch.

It’s tempting to watch that video and get confused into thinking that it only took 4 minutes to make.

Deep down we know we’re watching something in fast forward, but there’s a part of us that hopes expertise will come that quickly.

We want our art to take 4 minutes. Not 4 hours.

We want fast forward skills, instant expertise and overnight success.

We see the quick video and mistakenly believe the skills were acquired quickly.

Part of the reason we do this is because we live in an age of instant experts. Someone does something reasonably well for a week online and then sells a product teaching you how to do it. Promotion makes you look like an expert. Practice actually makes you one.

This creates a false expectation and real pressure that perhaps your road will be short too. That expertise is easy or fast. But it’s not.

Ask Bump Galletta.

This 4 minute video took him 4 hours to draw. More than that, learning how to draw took him a lot longer than 4 years to learn.

One of the key elements I talk about in Do Over is developing your skills. Why? Because they take time and we all need encouragement along the way to keep drawing.

Don’t feel pressure or shame if you can’t make an amazing 4 minute video yet. Stack up the hours into days. And then the days into weeks and then, months and eventually years.

That’s the best (and really only) way to get amazing skills, the kind real experts always have.


3 questions you should always ask before you take a risk.

This week I took a risk.

Instead of launching a book the traditional way, I decided to do something a little outside the proverbial box.

If people pre-order Do Over, I email them a digital copy of the book.

Not just a part of the book, the whole book.

Not just when it comes out on April 7, but right now.

Not if they pay extra, but for free.

Do-Over-3D-bookshot-with-spineI’ve never seen a publisher give away copies to everyone who orders a book months before it comes out.

It’s a risk. What if giving away all those digital copies hurts the sales of digital books? What if the process of delivering them to people doesn’t work? What if people read the book over a two month process instead of all at once in April and the momentum is divided?

These are risks, but I was willing to take them because I asked the three questions you should always ask before you take a risk.

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The perfect way to respond when you don’t get nominated for an Oscar!

(This is a guest post from Casey Lewis. He is awesome and regularly contributes to this site!)

Last week we found out that The Lego Movie did not get an Oscar nomination for best animated movie in 2014.

Now I personally haven’t seen this movie yet. My 6 year old has, but I just didn’t make it to theaters for this one.

As the news broke about this film not getting a nomination, the internet went crazy. Apparently this is a pretty good movie and director Philip Lord was snubbed.

While it’s hard to know what exactly happened here, I love Philip Lord’s reaction.

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