Monday, May 14, 2018

Where's the Remote? In the Fridge! by Peter Leavell

By Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Writers are 65% inspirational, 45% influencers, and 10% bad with arithmetic.

As writers, we might pen the world’s perfect blog about your craft and get a modest response, maybe an invite to teach a workshop. But when we mutter under our breath, ‘You can follow your dreams and make them come true through perseverance and dedication,’ the applause is similar to girls at a Beatles concert.

Why? Because when faced with a blank page on your left and a remote control on the right, where does the easiest gratification come? Meaning: learning to write is easy. Actually putting fingers to the keyboard is hard.

Willpower is limited, and that series isn’t going to binge-watch itself. Besides, streaming a show will offer more inspiration. Right? Right? Can I get an amen?

What happens when you put the TV remote in the refrigerator and reach for your laptop?

—Your family sees you working on something. You inspire them. And if you keep it up, you’ll influence them.
—Your friends think you’re crazy but respect you. You inspire them. And if you keep it up, you’ll influence them.
— Your enemies wonder why they quit, so they make fun of you or try to put you on a different path, so they don’t feel so guilty. You inspire them. And if you keep it up, you’ll influence them.

Crafting a work of genius isn’t about return on investment (ROI). You can’t calculate the hours you spend plotting, because in a year, you plot for 8,760 hours {h(d)=x when h is hours, d is days, and x is the answer [24x365=8760] MOM I DID MATH!}. So what do you get for your time?

Writing produces. Yes. But who knows what else will happen? My kids were happy for a while when I won writing awards, but now they pass them on their way out the door to accomplish something. I’ve influenced them to reach past the remote and warm leftovers because they’re hungry.

What I’m hoping you understand is this: writing is hard. Delayed gratification and blah blah blah. You know. It’s not worth it if you are measuring monetary ROI. Instead, the value is here—the inspiration and influence you deliver changes lives. Family, friends, and beyond. The measurement isn’t quantifiable.

I recommend you ignore all the doubting voices in your head. Laugh at the thought of cleaning the house. Point to the fridge when your family is hungry and shrug when they’re looking for the remote. Set specific times to write, and set specific times to be with family. Don't give friends details, but tell them you're writing, then go do it. 

If, on the off chance your work finds success...if, by some twist that God sees fit to use a couple words you put together to bring joy or horror or hope to others...if, like me, you're a genius with finding ways to trick yourself into putting the backside in a chair and write—you'll take it all in stride, because it's just another way you're influencing the world. 

And when you're dead and they're sorting through your home, while discussing how crazy but dedicated you were, their suspicions will be confirmed when they find a remote in your fridge. But your kids will know. And they'll make the comment, "That's why we're such hard workers."

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at