Great Writers Serve Their Readers

Great Writers Serve

This is Day 15 in the Great Writers series. To see the other challenges, click here.

It takes more than words to make a writer great.

A great writer is selfless. He doesn’t look to his own needs, but finds a way to help others. He’s a servant.

If you’re going to take your writing to the next level — to be truly great — you’re going to have to learn to do the same.

The big question

One of the biggest questions other writers ask me all the time is, “What do I write about?”

The wrong answer is whatever you want to write about. Now this is tricky, because every writer needs to write first for herself. That’s where your writing begins, but it’s not where it ends. As Stephen King says,

Write the first draft with the door closed and the second draft with the door open.

How do you tackle that second draft and do the work that others will see? Simple: You serve.

Serve your audience

You need to reach out, be a resource, offer to use your words to help someone in need. Here are three ways to do that:

  • Solve problems. Not just any problems, but the ones people don’t know they have. If you have to ask, “What can I do for you?” you’re asking the wrong question. You need to know what your audience needs before they do. This means creating a new sub-genre, addressing issues in a way nobody else has, or maybe just telling your story.
  • Answer questions. If you don’t know where to begin, look at the questions you want answered. Be observant. This applies to writing fiction and nonfiction alike. Put yourself in the seat of the reader, and guide them where they don’t know they need to go.
  • Help people. Do favors without being asked. Be generous (think over-the-top here). This doesn’t mean giving away a free chapter of your book — that’s predictable. Do something remarkable, something truly outstanding that will get noticed. And do it for someone else. Like how Seth Godin wrote and gave away a million copies of Unleashing the Ideavirus before selling it.

The challenge

Are you ready to be generous and start serving your audience? Here are a few ideas to get you started (pick at least one):

  1. Do a giveaway of a product or service. Find authors or organizations wanting to partner with people like you, and ask them for donations. Do this to build trust with readers, and make sure whatever you give away adds value.
  2. Conduct a survey. Find out what readers (or perfect strangers) want, what they struggle with, and create something just for them. This can be a blog series or an eBook or a whatever. Just make sure there’s a need for it before you make it.
  3. Write something important and give it away. Publish an eBook to Amazon and distribute it through the KDP Select Program. Or offer a free PDF in exchange for people subscribing to your blog.
  4. Answer all correspondence. Respond to every single email, phone call, tweet, etc. Do this until you can’t possibly keep up anymore. This is how tribes are formed — through accessibility.

Why we do this

We do this because we can. Because we’re trying to overcome anonymity. Because art, at its core, is about generosity. Not profits — passion

We serve our way into an audience’s affections, because this is the only way influence is earned: gradually, over time, little by little through permission.

We don’t give because we get, but if we do this enough we’ll learn that what goes around does, indeed, come around. This isn’t the point of why we do this, but it’s a nice byproduct.

Put people first

Everything you do from now on should be geared towards helping others.

When you write, don’t begin with a “get” mentality, seeing how many readers you can get or how much money you can get. Instead, put the giving before the getting. Because if you’re going to leave a legacy, your work will need to about others.

This is where most people fail. They stop finding ways to address what people need, especially when it gets hard. They quit before realizing their potential: to push back despair and bring hope to a world in need of their words.

They fail to be writers. (I hope you do better.)

Update: I’ve decided to extend my weekend promotion of You Are a Writer through today, so that those who missed it can still get it.

This eBook has been my most popular work yet. It was downloaded over 15,000 times in the past two days, which is more than a lot of New York Times Best Sellers do in a week, and it’s still available for free till midnight.

If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, get it here. Please tell your friends.

End of the series

Lastly, the 15 Habits of Great Writers series is now officially over (sniff, sniff). Did you stick through the whole thing? Congratulations. I’m thinking of turning it into some kind of eBook or guide. Let me know what you think about that.

In the meantime, grab yourself an achievement badge to embed on your blog or use to brag about your mad writing skills to your friends.

Thanks for doing this with me. I had a blast, and I hope you did, too. We’ll do something like it again maybe in a few months.

What’s something you could do to serve others with your writing? Share in the comments. If you blogged through the series, make sure you link up here.

102 thoughts on “Great Writers Serve Their Readers

  1. This was a thought-provoking and fun challenge. It made me uncomfortable in parts, which is just as it should be! And I got things done, despite it being a crazy time of year.
    I haven’t quite figured out yet how to see people’s comments to my comments, so apologise if I haven’t connected with people as much as I would have liked.  Will try to find out more about that.

  2. You’re definitely right about serving others – helping as much as we can. How? Well with our personal experience, with our individual insight, with our different point of view, by sharing. Thanks for the series Jeff; I enjoyed participating in it. 

  3. One of the ways many writers (particularly bloggers) have served me is by being honest about difficult or awkward parts of their own experience. Many times when I’ve felt alone in my experiences because none of my friends are facing the same things I’ve come across writers who’ve shared about going through the same things in a way that has made me feel less alone and more hopeful. 

  4. Jeff: This has been great! I really appreciated the push to get off of zero. It helped in several ways, including regaining confidence after being out of the game for about a year and following a serious injury. 
    I’ve been pretty good at responding to comments and tweets of the stuff I’ve posted. I plan to continue this and if the opportunity arises I may publish things in more formal manners. Thanks for your help!

  5. serve others by sharing knowledge more … it’s just that simple … one pastor put it like this … they don’t know, what they don’t know, till they know it.

  6. this adventure was something that I really wanted to participate in, and I followed along reading as best I could between obligations that turned into object lessons. but I really missed out on turning what I read here into my  writing, So please, either do a repeat performance to grab others in or find a new avenue for it. It helped me see from a new perspective and confirmed to me some things I “knew” but didn’t know I knew! ;>)

  7. Thanks again, Jeff, for your generosity.  I love how being generous is contagious.  I was thinking just yesterday that it’s time to give something away again on my blog.  I’ve gotten several free books from other bloggers that I follow.  It’s time, once again, to pay it forward!

  8. I reactivated a survey. It’s available on my blog. Please take it if any of you have the time. I hope this will allow me to be more intentional and connect with the needs of my readers.

    You can take the survey here:

    Thanks Jeff! This was awesome.

  9. This series has pushed me out of my comfort zone in a lot of areas, and it confirmed I was moving in the right direction on some others.  

    I’m sharing snippets of fiction regularly now, and that’s given me the energy and encouragement to develop the story further.  The 15 Habits community has brought the fun back to writing for me.

    The concept of serving without expecting anything in return has always been important to me.  I’ve met some great people and some exciting partnerships are forming with others who are serving in some amazing ways.  The feedback I’ve received from the folks here has really encouraged me to revamp the Orphan Manifesto that I put on the back burner a few months ago, too.

    I’d love to see a 15 Habits Followup/Linkup in about a month to see what everyone is up to?

  10. Jeff … Thank you for serving me (us).  This was a great start to a creating good writing habits.

    Yes to an ebook/guide.  With it … I believe more and more people will start to move their art forward as you shine a brighter light.  

    Also … it would be great to have a discussion forum for us to continue the discussion and encouragement as we all move forward.  

    Any Thoughts?

    1. I agree with Nicholas. ie yes to ebook/guide – and to a discussion forum.
      Great series, Jeff. I’ve grabbed an achievement award with a link to your blog so others can share in your awesome content.

  11. Wow, Jeff, you have no idea how much this 15 days has helped me.  I tackled this last challenge this weekend actually.  I was racking my brain for years trying to figure out what I was good at and how I could offer advice on a subject…any subject.  This past weekend I offered someone advice on something that I have a lot of experience in.  In fact several friends have approached me over the years about this subject and I when I send them “tips” and “tricks” it normally turns out to be 5+ page Word document.  Last year I finally created a “data dump” on what I knew of the subject and whenever people ask for advice I send them this.  Well, it finally clicked this weekend I already had the beginnings of an e-book and didn’t even realize it. 

    1. That’s AWESOME! I’m at that point – what possible advice could I offer about anything? I’m at the racking my brain stage, and asking God to show me clearly what it is because I have no idea.  Hopefully soon I’ll get a breakthrough!

  12. I wrote my Day 15 farewell yesterday and posted it on my Blog.  Thankyou, Jeff,  for the past two weeks.  There was a great  deal of fun and knowledge passed around.  I can’t imagine there was even one person who didn’t benefit from the posts, the contributors, the blogging by the participants and your wonderful spirit.  Thanks, MANY thanks and congratulations on your beautiful son.

  13. I joined half way through, but caught up on the inspiration and motivation I needed.  Thanks for doing this.  I am in the process of reading your free ebook – thank you for that too.  I am a new writer; I have been published in one national magazine and in several minor places.

    I plan to serve others by informing them of a diagnosis I received by my family doctor.  I believe it is something many people have but may not realize and just maybe I could help by putting it out there.  I have many projects just sitting there.  I will make room for new by sending out or filing away.  I dug out a story which I plan to tighten up and send in because of  reading this series.

    At age 52 I achieved a two year degree (it took four years as I work full time) which focused on writing classes.   I have allowed life to take over and I have written, but not submitted much.  I am building up my confidence as I go.  You have helped me realize I can bury the excuses and take my writing seriously and everyone else will too.  I have a writing room now and can close the door!  I fell into the trap of reading about writing instead of writing.  You reminded me I have to show up. 

    I am so glad I found you because you say what I need to hear.  Thank YOU for giving to us.  I am a writer.

  14. Thank You Jeff!

    This has been above and beyond anything I could have expected. And the good part is, it’s not over. We have a community and this course isn’t really over, not if you’re a writer.

    I love it that you ended it with service and a cool badge. I’ve taken the marketing courses, you could package it up and sell it, but look what you’ve done! The ripple effect is changing people and things on line.

    I posted your ebook give away on Facebook and several people in tight circumstances thanked me again and again.

    You’ve done good! And a father too. Wow!

  15. I was unable to read and respond to each day of the challenge, due to being on the move and only seldom accessible to reliable internet, but here, on the last day, I am able to say how much I appreciate the challenge. Each day’s topic was valuable. I will come back to these challenges individually in days to come. I won’t, however, blog about them, even though I will chew on them and try to open up to all the ways these concepts will improve my writing.
    I won’t write about writing, because that is not who I am. Yesterday you talked about the voice and message of a great writer. Today you reminded us that a great writer provokes. My voice and my message are not about writing. I could write about the things I am learning from you on the subject of great writing, but my time is limited. I must focus on using your lessons rather than teaching from them.
    My calling is to help Christians face persecution. That harsh word encompasses everything from social diatribe (Why don’t you just keep your religion to yourself like a civilized person?) to state suppression (The state’s interest in providing free contraception is vastly more important than your religious scruples.). Most Christians I speak with barely recognize the cultural restrictions, and they mostly close their minds to the way the state narrows the definition of protected religious expression. This battle is so huge and so important that my available writing time must be focused. My brand, my message, my calling is to warn of the issue and to provoke a faithful testimony in the face of such oppression. I write to help people see the subtle ways that the culture and the state reduce the freedom of religious expression. I write to help people mature in the faith practices that blossom into faithful testimony in people’s lives. Political strategists are nothing if not artful in semantics that give lip service to religious freedom while daily tightening the noose that will ultimately lock all religious expression inside buildings which the state will turn into libraries and museums of ancient thought. Christians in Nazi Germany were lured into collaborative behaviors to their everlasting shame. I write in the hope of opening the eyes of US Christians not to be fooled the same way.
    Thank you for what you give to all of us that enables each of us to do the good work to which God has called us. I know that I will be a better servant to my readers because of what you have given to me. Thank you. Thank you. 

    Katherine Harms

  16. Good post! Do you think you can also serve readers by entertaining them? Is that a good enough reason in and of itself? I think it just might be.

    since this doesn’t seem to link to my blog, I’ll leave a link 🙂
    Come by and check it out!

  17. Hey Jeff!
    This was an awesome series. I was encourage, inspired, and got some great ideas along the way. This particular post is at the heart of what I’m about so I’m definitely going to work on some of the points in your challenge.

    I already implement the survey aspect and should mention Google forms, and SurveyMonkey are great tools for implementing this. I find that people are always willing to tell you what they need if someone is willing to listen. 

  18. Thanks Jeff…this has been such a big help to me and to many others 🙂 This would be awesome as a ebook. I’ve been brainstorming ideas for an ebook to give away on my blog so this is so timely!  I think I’ll do a survey too…see what people are really needing:-) 

  19. Jeff – It’s been quite a ride!  A positive experience in EVERY way.  Thanks so much for all the time, energy, and graciousness to make this happen.  All of this on top of being a brand-new papa.  Wow!  That’s dedication, man.

    Speaking of serving, I am working on a post where I’ll be giving away five (5) copies of the book, Success for Teens.  This is the book that started the whole writing resurrection for me. 

    As I continue to say:  EVERYthing happens for a reason.  : – )

    Thanks again for making the #15habits possible.

    PS:  For those of you that ‘signed up’ for the writing/blogging mastermind — stay tuned!  I’ve been on vacation for a week and I’m just now getting back in the groove.  I’ll be sending an e-mail message to those of you that expressed an interest.  Looking forward to working with y’all (that’s the North Carolina vacation-talk coming out).  : – )

  20. Live Your Why is the byproduct of my experience teaching adults in colleges and churches for the past 15 years. Too many people start on a journey that really isn’t theirs. They waste a lot of time trying to accomplish someone else’s dream. Live Your Why is intended to awaken the inner dreamer and encourage people toward living a life that matters now and ripples throughout future generations. If one person gets it, the work will pay off. The book comes out in August and, hopefully, will be well-received because it addresses a question lots of people are asking… Why am I here?

  21. Jeff, 
    What a great thing you have done to serve your readers here!  It’s very fitting that this is Day 15.  That once we have went through all the other strategies and are writing, that you finish it up with what you do best – serving generously through making great content you give away.  And all this while you just had a baby boy.  Well done, sir.

  22. I was a bit technically challenged throughout this, but I enjoyed it very much, even when I was pushed beyond my comfort zone.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? I know you have waaaay too many followers, Jeff, and probably don’t even accept awards, but I just wanted to let you know that I have given you a Versatile Blogger award on my blog.

      Would be fantastic if you could share just briefly one source of inspiration to you as a writer!  You will see that many of the blogs I nominate are ones that I have discovered thanks to this challenge, so much, much appreciated!

  23. There’s no way I want to see this end.  I was able to start the challenge at Day 1 and stick with it each day AND blog about it. I haven’t blogged that consistently for quite some time.  And in the midst of it I was finishing up my job at school and had a son graduating from high school.  I figured if I could stick with the challenges during some of the busiest weeks of my life, then there would be no excuse not to write at less stressful times!

    I will miss these daily shots in the arm greatly, but today’s challenge is the next step I need to take.  I’ve been at the edge of this for quite some time, and now it’s time to move on it.  Jeff, you helped me take my writing from me-centered to readers-centered, and that was a needed switch of focus.

    Thank you for everything you have done for me and every one of us.   It’s been an amazing ride- can’t wait to see what you come up next for us down the road!  Keep pushing us to be better. 

  24. Jeff, thank you for writing this series.  Because of it I was given the encouragement and tools I needed to start a blog and take my writing to a bigger audience.

  25. Jeff, I’m joining the challenge on the last day, but oh my goodness ….just what I needed. Now off to write and be generous to my reader.

  26. Jeff, this has been an incredible journey.  Learning so much about myself as a writer, and discovering new blogs and new friends here in the comments.  I’m immensely grateful to you, and to everyone who shared and supported their fellow writers through these 15 Days.

    Yes, there is a book here.  There are writers out there only now learning about your challenge through reading some of our posts.  They too deserve the opportunity to be exposed to this concise, specific path to great writing.

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing what you have learned the hard way.  You’ve made our paths easier and clearer.  Thank you for modeling for us what serving your readers and fellow writers looks like.

  27. Thank you for 15 days of pure inspiration. You have made a difference in my life.

    Will be looking out for that e-book/guide/manifesto 🙂

  28. I was thinking on my walk just the other day that your challenge is the perfect making for another book for you.  I am, for sure, already a buyer because I know you will elaborate more on each habit.

    I will serve with my own writing as I take my own experiences as a writer to my professional developments for teachers.  We all must be real writers if we expect our students to be writers.  We can not sit on the sidelines and let them struggle with ideas, craft and organization when we have not grappled with these ourselves.The past 15 days have been life changing for me, Jeff.  I am just starting to believe in myself as a writer and your words have helped me reach that confidence.  You push people out of their safe little cubicle and also tell it like it is.I agree with Suzanne.  You are a true role model when it comes to walking the walk.Thank you!Shari

  29. Well I have a question since you ended talking about people first. I know you mean “readers first” but this is a statement that really caught me by surprise:
    “Respond to every single email, phone call, tweet, etc. until you can’t possibly keep up.”

    How do you do this and live within your limits? How can you do this and still be fully present at your job, family, etc? How does this “writing” not become the all consuming activity throughout my day? Yes, I am a writer, but my more important roles are within the people that I do life with, and what good is it to be a successful writer if my marriage or my children had to be pushed to the side to achieve such a goal?

    I say all of this, because I do believe that we have a culture addicted to social media (I know I am, and I am trying to actually cut back on the time I spend behind the screen). Where is the balance? At what point do you know your priorities have shifted?

    I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

    1. Ellen, Michael Hyatt had a GREAT post about this just today….

      Jeff did say reply, but he didn’t say “reply immediately.”  One thing I found works for me is to schedule short blocks throughout the day to check and respond.  When I do that and protect the rest of my day, I’m far more productive.  When I let myself get distracted, I end up getting nothing done.  Some days are better than others.  Today is shaping up to be one of the “not-so-productive” ones….

      But sometimes I get distracted by great stuff.  Like the couple hours I spent reading your blog yesterday.  We missed each other by two days at the Embassy in Ukraine!

      1. for whatever it’s worth, i find that this is the biggest difference-maker for me: being accessible. when i reply to an email (even if it’s a short one-liner), people are often really appreciative of it.

        think of it from the perspective of the potential fan. what would your next concert look like if the band spent a few minutes walking thru the crowd, thanking as many people as they can?

        the point is the gesture, not the scalability of it.

    2. Ellen, if people like Seth Godin can respond to email, we can do better. I’m not saying go crazy. I’m just saying that most people neglect correspondence. Not because they’re busy, but because they’re lazy and undisciplined.

      Do this until your platform gets too big that you can’t keep up. This could mean that for the time you have (maybe it’s only 15 minutes a day) you make yourself as accessible as possible during that time.

      Please don’t drive yourself crazy, and don’t neglect your family. But if you want to reach people, this is part of the process.

  30. I’ve read that all it takes to form (or break) a new habit is to do it for three weeks. A few more days and this new habit of being a writer will be ours! Thank you for the kick start.

    The mask-muffled voices and thuds of a demolition crew, the fragrance of the rain on bare earth mixed with centuries-old plaster dust, the vibrations from blows to the back room, the shush of cars passing on wet pavement, the unending grit of dust under my computer mouse — such is the tangible reality of my day life.

    I find beauty in these moments. I feel connected and alive. I want to grab people and ask them to look through the 127-year old glass window, and love how its imperfections turn the world outside to living Monet artworks.

    If my writing and photography connects people to the beauty of these moments — ooo, lightning strikes as I write those words! — I will feel I’ve found my way of serving.

    Grace and peace are in the grit. Beauty lies in imperfection. I’ve learned through this process that I need to risk my own imperfection, publicly and regularly, to guide others to their own beauty.

    Thank you.

      1. It felt much shorter!

        Following you regularly is part of the new habit, too. 

        I’ll write a review of “You Are a Writer” as soon as I finish reading it.  Thanks again.

  31. I wrote ugly, published it and served my tribe by letting them read it (a sort of pondering that turned into a short story) all in one go today (here:
    Thanks Jeff, for getting me to stop whining about WANTING to be a writer and get on and actually BE one. Just focusing on writing has sparked all kinds of creativity, and I’ve had one guest-blog published and got 2 more lined up, plus a couple of things I’m reading to get to know their style before I pitch to a bigger (scarier) audience.

    It’s been great to share this journey with you all – see you around!

  32. I’ve been following this whole series and LOVING it! I haven’t commented yet because I haven’t actively done the assignments each day. However, I plan to, and I figured I’d go back through the list and do them once I have time.

    Having said that, I would LOVE an ebook version and would even pay for it. So you have my vote on an ebook!

    Congratulations, Jeff, on a fantastic series.

    1. Your comment went through, Julie!  Just checked out your blog!  It’s so positive and energetic! 🙂


  33. Thanks Jeff, it has been a great journey.  You would do well to turn this into an ebook that will truly serve anyone who wants to write in any form.  I have come to the topic, it probly won’t get beyond my own notes, computer and file drawer, but it needs to get written down so I can get it out there if I ever have a reason to pass the information along to anyone.  Its not a popular topic, so most people don’t want to know; I still need to get it down on paper.  This is what following your course has given me, the real need to write daily and talk about the hard stuff.

    Cheers, Meg

  34. I just became aware of you a few days ago and already got your book for free.  Way to practice what you preach!  I’ have almost finished reading it and feel encouraged, challenged, and a little overwhemed (doing what it takes to build those connections), etc.  Great conent.

  35. I love the concept of giving things away for free. My hope is to write a fairly involved towards the end of this year and release it completely free – not even requiring an Email signup.
    Do you know if there’s a way you can permanently have your eBooks free on Amazon?

  36. I like to write about things that I’ve had to overcome…I figure that if I had a problem, then someone else might have that problem, so I let them know one way to get out of it

  37. This is a first for me.  Even though I have written many sermons I had never thought of myself as a writer…thanks Jeff! This has given me motivation and encouragement and a lot of HOW TO stuff that I did not know before.  And on my limited budget I could afford it, you are practicing what you preach!  AMEN

  38. I finished “You Are a Writer” and your 15 Days simultaneously.  That must mean I am a GREAT writer.  🙂

    Jeff I can’t thank you enough. Loved both resources.  Thanks for being willing to tell it like it is, to those of us who don’t know any better.  I’m a believer!  

  39. I enjoyed this series Jeff and I totally think you could turn this into a course or webinar, there is so much value in this series it deserves more!

    At the beginning of this year was when I shifted from just trying to make money and myself to focus on helping others, it’s made all the difference!

  40. I have enjoyed this series and I was grateful to download a free copy of your book.

    Something I do for my readers is invite them to send me their birth date and a few details, and I write a nonsense post, including poem, specific to them.  Most have usually forgotten they gave me the details so they are always surprised and happy when they read the post.

  41. I’m a testament to Christine’s comment. It’s been a huge experience and opened several opportunities for me to meet some amazing folks with similar passion for writing.

    Jeff, I’ve been hugely challenged to write better, dig deeper and do both for the right reasons: without looking at the stats! (How difficult!!!)

    Thanks for all you do. This does feel like a community and I am sure turning the resource into an eBook will benefit many who did not undertake the journey.

    Cheers everyone.

  42. I couldn’t agree more with Christine. Jeff has successfully managed to create a platform that has given some of us the opportunity to meet, learn and write better.

    Personally, I have been ‘pushed and shoved’ by this Challenge to write for the right reasons, and not for blog stats.
    And yes, eBook is definitely a go. I suspect their are several thousands who can benefit from this resource but were not part of the challenge. Let’s make it happen for them too and a reminder for us.

    I appreciate this community!

  43. I’m so glad I was able to grab the free book today…I was afraid I had missed out over the weekend!

    I’ve enjoyed this series. It’s definitely made me think, question, and manipulate my writing. 

  44. Jeff, thanks for this series. It has definitely pushed me as a writer. I especially like this last assignment. I’ve been wanting to do some kind of giveaway on my blog for awhile, but haven’t been sure what. I appreciate the ideas you offer, such as conducting a survey and asking your readers what they want. 

    I hope this homework isn’t due today, cause I need some time to think and brainstorm. 

  45. This is where the rubber meets the road.  I’ve come so far.  And, the challenge was well worth it.  At the moment, I’m fumbling.  Upgrading the website, deciding how to refocus my writing, etc.  I’ve checked out almost every comment just to see what they have to offer.  I’m so intimidated by their presence.  Amazing stuff, out there!  

    All I want to say is thank you, thank you, thank you for showing me how to bloom where I’m planted. 🙂  You’re a God-send.  

    Now, the game is in my court.

    1. Wow, Shelly.  Read your comment and I could have repeated your exact words.  Your blog continued my thoughts and fears.  Would love to keep communicating and supporting each other through this transformation to the other side.  

      My writing, too, has been mostly my hide away.  I don’t like wearing items with a brand.  Yet, I crave to write.  Somehow, we need to get to that other side. . .

      Shari 🙂

      1. Wow, Shari! (Is there an echo in here?…LOL).  I would love to keep n touch. I desperately need support for getting to “infinity, and beyond!”  

        As I was posting, all I thought of was how stupid it sounded.  I’m glad you didn’t think so.  

    2. It’s like he held our hand and took us to the edge of the cliff and said, “I’ve taken you as far as I can. You know what you need to do.  NOW JUMP!” 

      I’m scared to death, but jump I will!

  46. Jeff,
    I want to say that everything I have learned the last 15 days has changed my life. I was unable to “comply” every single day, but you challenged my thinking and pushed me beyond where I was, lightyears beyond. And now I have an 11-year-old “test subject” 2000 miles from me begging for the rest of my book (had to break her heart and tell her it isn’t written yet!), all because you pushed me to put it out there, get feedback. To declare, believe, choose, serve, give away, etc. etc. It has been invaluable.
    Let me also say that when I started reading You Are A Writer, so many things in it rang true for all artists, that I let (made) my husband read it. He is an oboe player, and a beautiful one at that. He was classically trained and then due to perfectionism and other overwhelming factors gave up about 15 years ago. Through the course of our lives, he has rekindled his art and recently made a decision to start seriously playing again, purchased a new instrument and has made new connections here in town. Yet the old doubts still haunt him. Your book has helped him immensely to change his thinking about art in general.
    So, thank you from both of us! Please, please keep up this good fight, and let me be around to read it?
    At one point you talked about a discussion board? Is that going to happen? Did I miss something?
    Now, I’m off to journey back to day 1 and re-learn what I just learned. My bassoon professor in conservatory once told me that “learning is remembering.” It is the most valuable thing anyone has ever said to me.
    Thanks so much!!

  47. Thanks for this series.  It’s been enlightening, encouraging, and challenging.  

    I like the ebook idea, and the link follow up mentioned below.  

  48. Jeff, though I haven’t done every challenge, I have read every one and thought about them. And thank you to the commenters … I’ve learned from you too! You, Jeff, model well what you share; that congruency adds real power to your lessons.

  49. Jeff, I have really enjoyed this series!  Each post has been so helpful.  I appreciate the way you live out what you are writing about in this particular post.

  50. This was by far my favorite post of this series…and it came at just the right time! I was stewing on a post that would serve a non-profit my wife and I love, and this article encouraged me to move forward with this idea. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it’s incredibly exciting!

  51. Your blog, your book, which I purchased, this 15 habits, the comments, everything I’ve read from you has been inspiring.  I come from many years of fear created from childhood through marriage.  Writing has been my dream for as long as I can remember.  But I was a writer that did not write.  Abuse creates roadblocks that only the victim is blind to. 

     I think one way to describe it is for you to imagine being chased, you
    don’t know by what or why, all you know is you have a sense of flight
    like never before.  You run, only not with your legs, you arrive at the
    edge of a cliff with dread and calm.  You look down and rushing water
    travels into infinity, the horizon to far for you to recognize where the
    river is possibly going.  As you stand there, your body trembles, a
    slight breeze calms you, anguish fills your mind, your heart is sounding
    into your ears, keeping beat as the noise blends with the sounds of
    rushing water .  Your mind can’t let go, can’t experience the beauty of
    the river, or feel the coolness of the breeze.  You don’t remember how
    you got there, but the looming sense of danger, of what is coming,
    creates anguish and you think of jumping.

    And so the thoughts continue, do you jump taking your chances with
    the river and the unknown, or do you stay and wait for what you know is

    Your blog, God only knows how I found it has released a true need to reach out for my dream.  I’m going to jump and float downriver.  Thank you Jeff Goins.  Thank you everyone.  The following is a small gift to you:    MY YAHWEH





    grasp at belief






    grasp at belief

    turn my head





    grasp at belief

    close my mind





    grasp at belief


    and I

    1. I’m glad you’ve made the decision to go for it. You have something to share with the rest of us that I know is fully worth it. Great job!!

    2. You are a gifted writer.  It’s amazing how many people Jeff has influenced.  His offerings have changed a lot of lives.

      Thank you, Jeff.

  52. Wow, what a powerful end to the series.  In my morning devotion after I read this I decided to  do a series that served others.  It’s a huge time commitment, but I want to be able pay it forward. 

    I am writing a series on 31 people who have impacted me 31 days in July.

    I text a few of the people on my list and they responded back saying “I’m honored, why me? and I inspire them and one said I don’t know 31 people.” 

     This is no sales job, but a way for me to blog about something other than myself or a tech question.  I’m taking your advice, and your sage quote: “Because art, at its core, is about generosity. Not profits — passion. “

      1. Of course! I would love to see your series.  I wrote the intro and you can follow each story at 

  53. Success! Feeling a little sad to see the challenge draw to a close but I did get another blog post draft out of it, this time covering my own first experience with using Amazon’s publishing site and KDP in particular. Thanks!

  54. Well, it’s been a long time coming, but I finally finished blogging my way through the challenge! It’s been a cracking journey, thanks so much Jeff for the inspiration. I am a better, more focused writer for it and I finally have some dreams and some direction! A lot of what you’ve written about isn’t just great writing advice, but great life advice too. Thanks!

    I’ve linked up every post, but if anyone’s interested in checking out my whole journey, I’m going to group my posts together on my blog:

  55. One of the ways many writers (particularly bloggers) have served me is by being honest about difficult or awkward parts of their own experience. Many times when I’ve felt alone in my experiences because none of my friends are facing the same things I’ve come across writers who’ve shared about going through the same things in a way that has made me feel less alone and more hopeful. 

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  57. I do not agree with this article. It’s my opinion. I’m entitled to it.

    I’m a self-served writer — this is NOT a wrong choice. YOU can be any kind of writer you want, whether it’s writing for yourself, friends/family, or the world. You can write about anything want as well. Original stories, fan stories, poems, songs, articles, writing is writing.

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