How Minimalism Made Me a Writer

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joshua Becker. Joshua is writer and speaker who decided with his family to become minimalists after cleaning their garage one weekend. You can find Joshua on his blog and Twitter.

One year ago, while driving my white Honda Accord across Phoenix Highway 101, the phone rang. I was surprised to see Jeff Goins’ name on the Caller ID. After exchanging a few pleasantries, Jeff asked an unexpected question.

How Minimalism Made Me a Writer

“Joshua, I’d like you to speak at my first Tribe Conference in Nashville. Can you be there this Fall?”

I immediately experienced two emotions. First of all, I felt incredibly honored. I respect Jeff and the work that he does—it was an honor to even be asked.

However, my second emotion gave me a slight pause before agreeing. I felt entirely inadequate. I believe my exact response to Jeff’s question was, “Jeff, you do know I credit my writing career to nothing but crazy luck? I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

His response sent me on a journey I had never embarked on before. He said, “Joshua, that’s not true! You are not a writer because of luck. You are a writer because the steps you took brought you here. That’s the story I want you to share!”

He was, of course, correct. I am not a writer because of luck (or at least, not entirely because of luck). I am a writer because of some very specific steps I took along the way. And I began to retrace them.

I’d like to share the path with you about how minimalism made me a writer. Wherever you are on your personal journey into writing, I hope you will find inspiration and motivation.

1. Find an unquenchable passion to communicate an important truth

Eight years ago, my wife and I made a bold decision. After spending an entire Saturday morning cleaning out the garage while my 5-year old son played alone in the backyard, we decided enough was enough (literally) and began removing all the physical things from our home that weren’t used or loved. Nine months after discovering minimalism, we had sold or donated almost 60% of our material possessions.

Our lives were improved overnight. From that day forward, I became passionate about the promotion of minimalism. I wanted desperately to share this truth with as many people as possible. Even today, eight years later, the motivation to spread this message burns inside me. My new book, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, is a direct result of this unquenchable passion.

2. Remove the distractions from your life

Subtracting unneeded possessions from our surroundings multiplied our opportunity to pursue things we care about. When we own less, we experience life with more money, more time, more freedom, less stress and less distraction. The result is exponential growth in personal satisfaction as we find the time and the capacity to pursue our greatest passions.

For me, writing and spreading the message of minimalism became my passion. With my home and schedule less cluttered, I found the time and space to work on my craft because I had taken the time to remove many of the distractions around me.

3. Embrace the community of other simple-living writers

The world we live in is not friendly to the pursuit of minimalism. Its tendencies and relentless advertising campaigns call us to acquire more, better, faster, and newer. The journey of finding and embracing simplicity requires consistent inspiration.

Fortunately, the movement fosters a beautiful community of fellow writers and artists. There is a genuine understanding that any promotion of simplicity is good for society—and there is little concern over who gets the credit.

It is a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful group of people. And from the very beginning, rather than taking a competitive bent against other writers in my niche, I sought opportunities to connect with them and promote their writing.

As a result, they were quick to promote mine.

4. Seek to write only words that helped others

My blog, Becoming Minimalist, started out very different from what it is today. At first, it was little more than a personal diary. I wrote about decluttering projects and things I was learning. There were some visitors, but not very many.

One evening, roughly 20 months into my blogging hobby, I received an email from a reader seeking advice. She wrote, “How do I get my partner onboard with minimalism? Can you tell me how you and your wife navigate disagreement?”

The very next morning, I published a post that changed everything for me. It was titled When You’re a Minimalist But Your Partner Isn’t. It was the first time I wrote thinking about someone other than myself.

The response was overwhelming. And my writing changed. No longer was my blog a space for me to journal haphazardly. It would become a place to help and inspire others. Becoming Minimalist moved from self-centered, to others-centered. To this day, I seek to write only helpful material that benefits the reader.

5. Take strategic steps ‘just’ beyond your current skill set

Several years into blogging, I decided I wanted to self-publish a book. There was only one problem: I had absolutely no idea how to self-publish a book.

But I knew it was the next step I wanted to take. I spent countless late nights at my computer reading everything I could about self-publishing books. I emailed friends. I retraced the steps of others who had done the same. And eventually, after hours and hours of investment, I created my first self-published book.

As I look back at my journey, I can point to several times when the next step forward was beyond anything I had ever done before. The step would require significant investment of time and energy.

In almost every way, my new book is a result of taking another step ‘just’ beyond me. This is a project that has taken over 18 months to complete—easily the most time I’ve ever invested into a writing project. I was pushed and challenged along the way by a team of people: agents, editors, marketers, and publishing executives. It was hard work; but together, we accomplished more than I could have ever accomplished on my own.

There is more than one right path to the destinations we seek. But for me, becoming a full-time writer required the five specific steps above.

As you consider the path you are on to becoming a writer, how might you define the next step forward in your journey? Share in the comments

Joshua Becker and his family live in Peoria, AZ. After a conversation with a neighbor on Memorial Day 2008, they decided to become minimalist and intentionally live with fewer possessions and cleared the clutter from their home and lives. As a result, they found a better way to live centered on more important pursuits.

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

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