Tell It As Best You Can

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” – Neil Gaiman (source)

This is number eight of Gaiman’s eight rules of writing. It is my favorite because of how well it applies to life. It reminds me of Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. If you look at life like a play, a story, a script, etc. you can identify characters, plot points, devices, themes and a whole bunch of other literary stuff. 

Using this like a tool, it’s quite possible to “write” a good life. If I couldn’t buy into any other philosophy, I think this is the one that I’d be sold on every time. Be honest, be straightforward, tell the story the way it should be told. Think about how the story will be told later to help you decide what actions to take. Be earnest, and don’t worry about making mistakes.

Weed out the junk that just distracts from the real story being told. 

You can find a way to get away with just about anything you want. That might sound like a license to just do anything, but it’s not. It’s a challenge to do what tells the best story. Think about the people through history who did whatever they wanted, and are looked at as fools or worse. Take that into consideration when you use your freedom to live your story.

See yourself as the storyteller; then become a master storyteller.

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The Underdogs

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his article “How Underdogs can Win”:

“What happened when the underdogs […] acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? […] In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win”.

He uses the example of David and Goliath, where if David had fought Goliath on his terms, he would have almost certainly lost. Playing by different rules, and using ingenuity, David became an unlikely winner.

Sometimes it pays to play by your own rules. Sometimes you can’t do things the way they’re typically done. Sometimes failure means finding a better way to do something. Being unconventional is admitting that there might be other/better ways to win.

When trying something new, you may not even have support, or a clear way to do what you want to do. In those cases you have the freedom to build your own path, to buck convention, to be small and nimble. Advantages don’t always look impressive, nor do they have to. Being the underdog isn’t a bad thing. It might mean you have more at stake, more to prove, more headroom to grow, and more reasons to succeed.

Share some stories about being an underdog, or being unconventional.