Brick Walls

“The brick walls are there for a reason…”

Danny Iny over at Firepole Marketing challenges the trendy belief that we all have an equal chance to build powerful online platforms.  Just as you suspected, “the deck really is stacked against you,” says Danny.  The Internet is not a level playing field.  We’re up against the brick wall.

We writers really need to hear this:

“The brick walls are there for a reason.  The brick walls are not there to keep us out…”

I see many writers cowering in the shadow of the rumour that brick walls bar the way to success.

“The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something…”

I discovered this for myself when I made a living in the screen trade.  The bumper sticker of the day was: “Is there anybody in America not writing a screenplay?”  But how many of those screenplays were any good?  How many writers wanted to excel badly enough keep scaling the wall?

“The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough…”

Anyone with a computer can knock off a script or a novel.  But is it Art?  Is everyone willing to rewrite? 

And reflect and assess and experiment.  And layer, simplify, complexify, question their characters, go nearly insane asking what it’s all about, what’s the pattern emerging? where is the heart of my story? what does it mean? what’s its secret centre?  

“The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the OTHER people.”

The brick walls are there to stop the other people.

A serious writer knows how true this is.  Writing well is so tough that, by comparison, a brick wall is nothing. 

Brick walls are a good writer’s best friend.

“The brick walls stop the other people.”


NOTE: The “brick wall” quote actually comes from a speech by Professor Randy Pausch.  As he was dying in 2008, at the age of 47, he delivered a “last speech” in Pittsburgh, Penn.

P.S.:  Next week we’re going to bump up against a real brick wall in a post about “how to write funny”. 


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  1. cole says

    Unfortunately the brick wall didn’t stop EL James…
    This is what makes the brick wall disheartening to good writers.

  2. Tony says

    Love it, PJ. Thanks for mining these jewels.

    I personally have adopted the philosophy of totally ignoring the brick wall, focusing instead on what’s on the other side. Of course I will do whatever it takes to get there. Of course I am the most professional of writers, and that simply and obviously means rewriting my little ass off. Brick wall? Who cares. Not a problem. I have just the tool for any brick wall. It’s called necessity.

    Well, that’s the philosophy. We will all see how far that horse can carry me. I promise you, we will all see.

  3. says

    The beautiful thing about this “brick wall” philosophy is that it leaves the writer with increased “spiritual self-confidence”… no matter what happens. Onward, Tony! Thanks for your input.

  4. says

    Yes, it’s disheartening to see mediocre writing surmount that wall and score big with the mass market. But listen up… on the other side of that wall… it’s a vast country. Room for everyone who works on their art. At least, that’s my opinion, Cole. This is a subject worth more discussion. Thanks for chiming in.

  5. cole says

    Thanks, PJ.

    Perhaps I unleashed my ascerbic comment a little too quickly. This was a great post and I agree with you regarding the “vast country”. The literate market is ever hungry, so I guess the goal at the moment is to scale the brick wall myself before denying others their view of the other side…

    Looking forward to your next posting…

  6. says

    PJ, I love the idea that the brick walls are not there to keep us out but to keep the general fertilizer out. It really turns things on their head, doesn’t it? Turns it into a positive challenge, which is brilliant. That’s what it’s all about, in life, as well as art, taking the power of creativity into our own hands. Empowering ourselves with this mode of self-expression, right? :-)

  7. says

    Yvette… “it really turns things on their head, doesn’t it?” Too true. Here’s how I see it: We live by beliefs that shield us from deeper aspects of reality… these are necessary delusions… which enable us to navigate day to day life. So when we encounter something that seems negative — like a brick wall — it most likely has a quite different reality at that deeper level. I’ve discovered that there’s almost no negative that can’t be seen as a positive. How can we be artists without this perspective? Without taking the meaning of things into our own hands, as you say. Cheers!

  8. says

    I totally and utterly agree. There’s almost no negative that can’t be seen as a positive. When my Sam was born, 10 years ago today, I was in shock, mourning, and outright terror. Yet, today we celebrate Sam and I know down to the core and roots of my soul that he’s one of the greatest blessings present in my life. If only I’d had the eyes to see at the beginning. Never mind. I see it now. Sometimes, that turnaround to the positive takes a while!
    I included snippets of this blog post on My News Page on my website.


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