Komparisons Kill

By Brendan O’Meara

Short one for Saturday. And this one I will most certainly revisit.

Comparisons are toxic.

I’ve written a little blurb about this for a literary journal that published an essay of mine. This topic strikes deep because I fell prey to this for a significant chunk of years. All it does is foster bitterness.

The quicker you embrace your path as distinctly yours, the freer you’ll be. All you can control is your effort. Maybe you’re not where you want to be. Maybe you look at so-and-so in your field and wonder why you’re not there. I know. I’ve done it.

Stop that now. I’m speaking from experience. And Marie Forleo articulates better than I can.

Before you watch the video, I’d ask you to subscribe to my newsletter and subscribe to the #CNF Podcast. It helps me to keep going on this path.


It’s Time to Kill ‘Hacking’

By Brendan O’Meara

If I were to enact my own Reign of Terror on words in the culture, one would be when people say, “Welp…” in a tweet or a post.

“Welp, guess that didn’t work.” “Welp, back to the garage.”

Nails ===> Chalkboard.

Next, this “hack” movement of the past 10 years or so really boils my potato.

When people use the term hack, I get a bit nauseous and my eyes glaze over. Hacking, for those who don’t know, is a way of people trying to shortcut a system. Advocates for hacking are those who think that working smarter is better than working harder.

But all this time “hacking,” should be spent doing the work.

There is only one hack: Do the work.

Seth Godin writes that the long cut is the shortcut, that shortcuts are teases that sell the idea of getting where you want to go faster and with less tire wear.

Let’s put the term “hacking” as we know it today in a deep grave and bury it alive so it suffers.

Passion bad, Systems Good

By Brendan O’Meara

Scott Adams, founder of the comic strip Dilbert, thinks passion and goals are bull poo. What he favors are systems.

What does he mean exactly? Well, he can explain better than I can, so you should follow this little slideshow.

To sum up with a simple anecdote, passions are misleading, but are often what HUGELY successful people lean on in keynotes. Losing 10 pounds? That’s a goal. Realizing that the glycemic index of a baked potato is WAY higher than a plate of pasta is knowledge, thus a system that will make goals attainable.

This can be applied to many things. As this is a writing blog, I’ve got some thoughts I’ll share tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy his little slideshow. It’ll only take two minutes of your time.

Share Bad Stuff

By Brendan O’Meara

Nothing is perfect. And, on top of that, there’s no perfect time to publish. A year from now you’ll wish you started X project and lament the lost time.

In order to reach a place of good art, art people speak about, art that makes people anticipate you and—more importantly—miss you if you stop, you need to do enough bad stuff.

So I’m going to share some of my bad stuff. I dabble in fiction here and there. I find it fun. I may even keep practicing and try to publish some of it. But for now, here’s a story I like. Sure, it’s imperfect, it may be bad, it may be good, I don’t know. I don’t care.

It’s out there so that I may go ahead and write the next one. It’s “The Ringer.”

If you think this post will help a fellow creator, maybe unstick someone who is stuck, by all means share it. I hope you do.

Episode 27—Paul Lisicky on Writing in Unlikely Places, Simultaneous Projects, and Preserving Play

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Photo by Star Black
Photo by Star Black

“If you put too much focus on one thing you can kill it.”Paul Lisicky.

“What would it be like to be an amateur again?” —Paul Lisicky

When I get away from doing the podcast I forget how fun and uplifting the experience can be. Here, for Episode 27 (!), we have Paul Lisicky (@Paul_Lisicky), author of The Narrow Door (Graywolf Press, 2016).

Paul talked a lot about his own process and how that has changed over the years. He also talked about some of the best advice he can give an aspiring writer: cultivating fandom.

Why don’t you just listen to him?

Go ahead and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. If you think you know someone who would benefit from this interview, share it with them. Also, subscribe to my monthly newsletter. You can preview it here to see what it’s about. Dig it? Then put in your info along the right sidebar.


People Mentioned

Greg Hanlon
Bronwen Dickey
Maggie Messitt
Thomas Pynchon
Jane Bowles
John Hawkes
Flannery O’Connor
Joy Williams
Elizabeth Bishop

Other Books by Paul Lisicky

Unbuilt Projects
The Burning House
Famous Builder


Brian Koppelman’s Epic Tweet Storm

Written Reordered by Brendan O’Meara

I’m probably not the first to do this, but I hope I’m not the last.

As many of you know, Brian Koppelman, filmmaker, television show runner, podcaster, and advocate for blocked artists everywhere (six seconds at a time), is a favorite of mine. I’m a true fan.

He went on yet another artist-serving tweet storm, and I’ve reordered—REMASTERED!—it, and put it here for you.


Oh, and you can thank him on Twitter. Seriously. Use 140 characters or less (ideally less) and THANK. THIS. MAN.

Now enjoy.

#CNF Episode 26: Kevin Robbins Talks Harvey Penick and the Sacrifice of Writing a Book

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Sorry of the long delay in episodes, but the misses and I are moving to Eugene, OR very soon. I’m hustling to sell our belongings because all we’re taking is a Honda Accord over the Rockies.

We’re starting fresh.

Naturally, everything has taken a backseat to that.

That said, I finally edited this interview with Kevin Robbins (@kdrobbins on Twitter), author of Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom from the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf.

Enjoy! (Oh, and don’t be shy about subscribing to the podcast and the monthly newsletter!)

The Mental Commute

My cold-brew coffee rig. French press, Yeti mug, 100% maple syrup, cream from pasture-raised cattle.

A photo posted by Brendan O’Meara (@brendanomeara) on

Written by B. Ryan O’Meara

For some perverse reason, I’m going to try and write a little blog post every day. Sometimes long, other times short. Just for fun.

Like, for instance, I had this thought of the commute to work. Take my wife. She rides her bike 5.5 miles to the train station in the morning along unsafe roads, boards the express NJ Transit train up to Newark-Penn Station, hops on the PATH train to World Trade Center, then walks almost a mile to her building. Door to door: 2 hours (4 hours a day, 20 hours a week commuting. No wonder why she’s so tired.)


But the commute, that distance between home and work, isn’t always physical. It can be mental.

I have the pleasure—but sometimes curse—of working at home, yet it still takes me about three hours to get to work. My commute is mental.

I ride with Mellie to the train station because it’s dark and scary and threatening in some areas. I come back home, walk the dogs for an hour, meditate for 15 minutes, write in the journal for another 15-20 minutes, make my coffee, cook my breakfast, then read, then I’m usually ready to put my ass in the chair and work on my book or a long feature or a column I have due.

Mellie has that horrible physical commute. Mine, while not horrible, is of the mental varietal. Both provide the mind with preparation for the word day.

Wisdom from a Rat


Written by Brendan O’Meara

I came across that neat little image the other day, thought it’d be worth sharing.

Also, to quote the great Seth Godin, “This might not work.”

Once you embrace that (and I’m trying, man, am I trying!), then what’s to fear? You’re either great or invisible.

Go be great.

The Greatest Feeling in All of Publishing

Written by Brendan O’Meara

So, here’s the thing: Want to know the best feeling in all of publishing? It might not be what you think.

Granted this is entirely and purely subjective, but I think you’ll either agree with me or nod your head and think, ‘Yeah, I can see that.’

The best part of publishing isn’t the writing, isn’t the actual publishing, it is the moment you ship it or hit send.

That’s it! It’s not even that lightning strike of when the recipient says, ‘Yes, I will take it.’

The reason is two-fold:

One, between you (the sender) and them (publisher, agent, whoever), the book can be anything. It can sell 1,000,000 copies or zero. It can connect to a disenfranchised 14-year-old, or put a smile on a library patron.

Two, you finished something.

This is important because so many people, myself included, love that first 20-50 pages of a book. Even that first page, when the idea seems PERFECT in all caps. To reach 70,000, 80,000, 90,000 words, that’s special.

I don’t care what your skill is as a writer. I will shake your hand if you wrote that many words, shaped it, and shipped it.

When you hit send on the email that puts your book into some binary code out on some fiber optics cable, there is no greater accomplishment or feeling.

That charge of seeing something through to completion and then putting it out there, well, nothing beats that. No bad reviews, no Amazonian, one-star trolls, no publisher buy-backs, no seeing your book sell for a penny on a used-book store table. It can be anything.

You saw it through. You hit send.

Now go start the next one.