Step 5 Pt. 4: I Am Not Unique; One Writer’s Story is All Our Stories

Step 5 – Admitted to the world, to another person, and to ourselves the exact nature of our disease


Last week I talked about first sales panels at writers conferences and the funny thing, most of the time I completely discount other people’s experiences. Totally. Do you know why?



Because I have this deep-seated notion that I am unique. No one is like me. Only one Aaron Michael Ritchey ever born, that’s me, and if you think anything you say matters to me it doesn’t.



Kinda’ like my favorite joke.

How many VietNam vets does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

You don’t know ‘cause you weren’t there, man.

Ain’t nobody been Aaron Michael Ritchey.

But it’s a stupid idea to think that I am so unique. As a person or as a writer. That’s the thing with the first sales panels—their story is my story. Or could be. If I keep working and keep trying.

From what I’ve seen, it takes about five to six years to get published once you really set your mind to do it. Really commit. Then it takes another twenty to get on the New York Times Bestseller List. And that can happen to writers. Happens to writers all the time. Why not me?

Why not?

I’m just a writer, after all.

And that’s the power of the 5th step. Once I shared all of my foibles with another person, once I got everything on paper and out in the open, I realized I wasn’t unique, or alone. That I’m a person, a writer, and other people feel the same things I feel. The successful ones find a way through the fear and pain. Those are the people I need to talk to and the stories I need to hear.

If I focus on the similarities and not the differences, I can get to a place where success as a writer is possible. If I focus on the differences, then I’m doomed, doomed I tell you! Doomed to be alone. Doomed to be a failure. Doomed forever!

But that’s not the case. That’s why I can talk to writers so easily. They are my people.

So cowboy up, all you happy writers, because we’re leaving Step 5 and going on to Step 6. This is where the hardcore part of the program hits.

Steps 6 and 7 ain’t for sissies!