Recently, I watched this TED Talk with Tom Nash. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nash, speaker and self-professed pirate (see the video and it will make sense), he lost both arms and legs and was heavily scarred by a life-threatening illness. His life since then has been all about overcoming adversity. So what does Nash have to teach us about writing?
Try Something New. After learning how to walk with prosthetics, Nash had to learn how to navigate stairs. A head on approach no longer worked. He had to try something new. It doesn’t matter how often something has worked in the past. When it stops working, try something new. This may mean finding a new perfect writing spot, a time of day that is productive, or a new way to open this article. Find what works NOW.
Take a Chance. Before his illness, Nash played the guitar. He loved music but did little with it. Once he and an engineer created a new way for him to play, he formed a band. They played gigs. You’ve written your manuscript. You’ve reworked it several times. At some point you are going to have to decide you are ready to submit your work. Take the chance and show it to your critique group. Enter a contest. Submit to a publisher.
Keep Your Setbacks in Perspective. After his illness, Nash has had to reconsider how he deals with and views set backs. Most of them don’t seem all that harrowing any more. Not everything that you try is going to work. Sometimes you are going to fail and this will, at least every now and again, be really embarrassing. That’s okay. It isn’t personal when an editor rejects your work. It may feel personal when an agent doesn’t want to represent you, but it isn’t. This is business.
Try something new.
Take a chance.
And keep it all in pespective.