To pick up the pen

There’s never been a shortage of stories. Only a shortage of storytellers. Or the courage to take one’s story into the world and let others share and engage with it.

Everyone has an exciting story to tell, a idea that would make a great book, something others would love to read. But most are put off by the fear of failure, or at least irrelevance. And that is interesting.

Most of us, whether we like it or not, are prone to several biases which may be grouped together under the tag ‘I’ll just assume I’m better than you’. One of these biases is the so-called ‘false uniqueness effect’, which says that we tend to view our own qualities as more unique than those of other people. And more unique means more valuable too. We also tend to think that we know ourselves better than others know themselves. This is the illusion of asymmetric insight. But we’ve known this all along. Vanity, arrogance and self-conceit are hammered into our psychology.

Yet, when it comes to turning an idea into a book, people would, though capable, rather not. The idea of making one’s story available to others activates our humility core, which is another side of our tormented psychology.

‘Nobody would want to read something like this ‘, we tell ourselves.

The inner critic stretches her legs. It turns humility, a virtue, into self-deprecation, its ugly cousin. In the Old Testament, Jonah had been called by God to preach to the people of Nineveh, but he thought himself unworthy of such a task. We know what happened next.

The Jonah complex lives in all of us, like Jonah lived in the bowels of the whale. Though vain and self-adulating in many ways, we become diffident and self-effacing, and allow opportunities to pass us by.

So pick up the pen with boldness and pride, strong in the confidence that your story is worth the telling, that your book is worth reading. Because it is, as long as the story is true, cuts like a blade and pricks like a medieval quill.

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