New York City

Can you recall an exact moment when you decided to become a writer?
No, I always wanted to be a writer.

Subject: I’m writing a book

Dear Friend,

A few months ago I stopped aspiring to be a writer, and I simply became one.

I adopted the identity and embraced the routine.

Well, now is the time to take things one step further—by committing to the solitary, strenuous, yet intellectually rewarding undertaking of writing a book.

Yes, that’s right. I am going to write a book, and I want to take you with me on this journey. I have pondered over this idea for the last decade, but I had never seriously entertained the notion for more than a few days at a time.

Over the last couple of years, however, that innocuous idea, the ambition of a future self, has transformed into a potent virus that has taken hold of me. Its grip is unrelenting, driving me to write the book I’ve always yearned to write. Despite my attempts to resist, the infection has consumed me completely, leaving me with no choice but to succumb to its power.

The damage has already been done, and I can no longer ignore the burning desire within me.

A book must be written.

I can’t explain to you the feeling that drives me to write. But if I am certain about anything in my life right now it is that I want to spend the next few months making this conviction a reality.

Why am I doing this, you ask?

I can provide you with many convincing rationalized answers, all of which hold equal weight in terms of their truthfulness, but the chief reason amongst them all is this: I want to find meaning in doing something difficult.

Let me tell you what I mean by that.

Last year, I found myself heavily invested in the world of storytelling and on what it takes to tell great stories. In my quest to understand these nuances, I took notes and engaged in some deep thinking, while trying to answer one question: what is the point of life?

Eventually, with the help of some great authors, I concluded what everyone, I believe, intuitively knows: In stories, the point of life is the transformation of a character. And if stories are the distillation of human experience, then the point of life is the same as that of a story. And transformation only happens through action. To be an active participant in life, you must live your own story. To do that, you must acknowledge the brilliance of life, which contains an inherent responsibility to encounter conflict and adversity.

We all have the desire to have lived great stories, for this is where we understand meaning is found. But few of us are willing to put the work to make that happen.

Characters are resistant to change; therefore, they must be forced to change. Order, familiarity, and expectations are important for a stable life, but these are also limiting factors that prevent people from indulging the unknown, where adventure, challenge, and true change lurk.

Resistance and inciting incidents:

When faced with the prospect of embarking on a story—in my case, writing a book—we suddenly feel uneasy and willing to do anything but begin our journey. Resistance, with capital R, as Steven Pressfield, says, is the surest signs that we need to do something. Resistance deprives us of our stories. It has deprived me of my story.

Robert McKee states that humans always seek comfort and predictable environments. A character needs an inciting incident to force him into action, to break the shackles of Resistance; e.g., a house fire, meeting a beautiful girl, the prospect of imminent death, a break up, getting fired from your job.

This is what I needed to begin crafting my own story and overcoming my personal challenge. My inciting incident forced me to take the irrevocable decision of writing a book.

This is book is at the center of my story. It’s my challenge through which I will attempt to find transformation and, thus, meaning.

Eventually, me and you, characters in our own stories, are what we do. This is as important in life as it is in books and movies. The things we make up in our heads are just that—thoughts unique to us. The outside world knows nothing of what we think unless we act on our ideas—yet we mostly chose inaction and contemplation. As a result, despite how we perceive ourselves, the stories we emanate to the world are not in harmony with our inner ambitions.

The right time is not an ambiguous date in the future.

The right time is now.

I shall take action before my story dwindles before my very eyes. And you should do the same.

Now, having said that, the real question remains: what kind of book do I want to write?

That’s a difficult question to answer, and I don’t expect to find the answer soon, but, at least, I know what I don’t want to write about.

I don’t want to write about the Zettelkasten method, knowledge management, and personal productivity. There are enough books out there about these topics, and my contribution will not make a serious dent in the space. I haven’t invented a new tool, method, or routine to monetize, nor I am interested in doing that.

Instead, I want to write about something that feels true to me. Something that intrigues me, captivates me. Something that will make me wake up in the morning in pursuit of answers.

The decision has been taken.

Now begins the quest to find the topic.

I will keep you posted.

Nikos Panaousis

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