If you can’t stand the thought of ending up nowhere, don’t write.

A quote from fellow writer John Barnes.

“If you can’t stand the thought of ending up nowhere, don’t write.” ~John Barnes

Remember it. Write it down somewhere. On the wall, above where you write. Stencil it around your whole house. Scribble it in magic marker down your arms if you have to. Because it’s true.

I spend a lot of time around two groups of people. Writers and yogis. The art of stretching while breathing might seem to have limited overlap with the art of writing. But in truth, they’re two ways to exactly the same place. Or the same non-place. The same nowhere.

Where do you want to go? The answer for many writers and yogis both is definitely “somewhere”, and that somewhere is usually defined by varying degrees of fame and fortune. For yogis it might be modelling for Lululemon, for writers achieving that holy epithet “New York Times bestselling author”.

They’re both equal measures of bullshit.

You don’t do yoga to get somewhere. You do yoga to help remember that where you are – here, now, in this place, is as good as any place. You stretch and breath for the joy of stretching and breathing. You write words on paper for the joy of writing, of thinking, of shaping concepts, of telling stories. Writing, like yoga, is a practice.

But it’s so easy for us to forget that. We all have ambition, ego, dreams. We need these things, they’ll never go away. And we’re all challenged to balance those essential drives, with the pure pleasure and joy of our practice. The drive to be somewhere, with the recognition that being nowhere is just fine. So remember John Barnes words. (And then go buy his books.)


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

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