The best part in Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success is tucked at the back, well after his chapter about mastery and the 10,000 hour rule. It comes in the chapter “Marita’s Bargain” at the top of page 266:

“To become a success at what they did, they had to shed some part of their own identity… So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends—all the elements of her old world—and replace them with [her studies].”

Many of the people I meet who want to write aren’t willing to make this bargain. They tell me how busy their lives are and that they can’t afford it.

I know what it would take for them to start. Sometimes I tell them and sometimes I don’t. Often, I can tell it won’t make a difference.

If you aren’t writing, what is the thing you have to give up? Do you think it’s worth it?

It may not be a thing, like friends or time. It may be that part inside your head that has convinced you that it is impossible.

Some people like to be stuck and have an excuse. Are you one of them?

This isn’t about making you write. It is about you being honest with yourself. If you aren’t willing to let go of your excuse, then quit saying you want to write.

But, if you do want to write, then make the bargain and begin.