Writing advice from Carl Richards

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an article written by Carl Richards, a financial planner and a New York Times columnist…

I’ve been following Carl Richards for about six months now. See his photo, above. Doesn’t he look like a financial planner? The nice suit. The neatly shaved head. The intense hand gestures. But Carl Richards is more than just a financial planner. He’s also the “Sketch Guy” — a columnist for the New York Times, and someone with quirky but useful advice for people in just about any profession.

Recently, he wrote about fear. And as I read his column — headlined, “Six Steps to Ditching Your Fear and Starting That Big Thing” — I couldn’t help but think of writers. I work with many such people who desperately want to write a book but who feel they have nothing but roadblocks in the way. Here is what Carl Richards has to say about that:

Just for the time being, assume that nothing on your list of roadblocks (I’m talking to you, Mr. Health Care and Ms. 100 Hours) is more than an excuse.Look, I don’t know you. I don’t know your situation. Maybe your roadblocks are absolutely legitimate. But just for this experiment, may I humbly suggest: Assume that no matter how real you think they are, they are just excuses.

I also liked that his solution for the roadblock problem is simply taking one small step. Just one small step. Then taking it again, tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that.

This is precisely how people accomplish big tasks. Like writing books.