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Encouragement for Writers (Inspired by Hamilton)

(Disclaimer: All screenshots are taken from videos that are publicly displayed on Disney’s YouTube channel. I do not own these videos, and I am not making any money from this article.)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show.

It’s been a long time since I first heard about this Broadway musical called Hamilton.

I was never a huge Broadway fan, because I could never afford tickets, but I did a lot of choir performances. I surrounded myself with kids who loved theater and singing, and that got me into a lot of Hamilton conversations.

Every time, I’d listen to how they spent $300 or $500 or $800 dollars per ticket to see Hamilton, and every time, I said, “I wish they would make it into a movie so everyone could see it.”

All of my friends agreed with me, but assured me, “That will never happen.”

Four years later, guess what Disney did?

On Friday, Hamilton was released for streaming on Disney+, and I was so excited, I watched it that night.

Screenshot from Hamilton Disney Trailer
(Image courtesy of Disney+ Hamilton trailer on YouTube.com)

While watching Hamilton, I felt an overwhelming sense of awe. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and composer, was literally laughed at when he performed a song about Hamilton for the first time. In spite of that, he kept going, and now, according to this article by the WSJ, Hamilton earned half a billion dollars on Broadway by 2019.

I have to admit, I felt jealous when I remembered that most authors never hit that level of fame.

It made me sad to realize that every other author has dreamed about being famous at some point in their lives, but most of us never get there.

That night, I stayed up until 2 AM, writing a letter of encouragement to myself.

This might feel a little bit different than my other articles, but this is what I’d like to share with you today. I hope this encourages you in your journey as a writer.

(Image courtesy of Disney+ Hamilton trailer from YouTube.com)

Dear past, present, and future self,

You long to tell the world,
“Sit down, let me tell you a story.”
You have words, you have visions,
Pieces of stories,
Floating around inside your brain.
But you don’t know if the world will understand.

You tell the world,
“Sit down, let me tell you a story.”
Nobody listens.
They are all too busy with other stories,
The authors that hit the jackpot of readership and glory,
And there isn’t enough to go around.

Ever stood in an empty chamber
Where the walls echo your words
And you are the only one who is there to hear your voice?
It feels like that.
But worse.
Because you’re trying to tell the world a story.
And they can’t hear your voice.

(Image courtesy of Disney+ Hamilton trailer on YouTube.com)

If you’re in a chamber where the walls throw your words back in your face,
Where nobody takes the time to hear your ideas
And nobody wants to give you the audience
That you’ve craved in your soul for months, years,
If you’re crushed by the silence,

Here is my advice to you, Lauryn.

You’re going to be in that echo chamber
Until you have sharpened your pencil,
Until you have refined your talent,
Until they cannot help but listen.

This story might not be what the world is waiting to hear.
So don’t stay in the echo chamber,
Promoting a story that’s received a cold welcome in the eyes of the world.
Get out of the empty chamber,
Stop speaking to the walls.

Sharpen Your Pencil.

I know in the past, you rushed into that echo chamber,
Feverishly fervent for the world to receive you.
You had a story to tell, but the time was wrong.
The only response was an echo.

So you sharpened your pencil and got back to work.

Present self, you write for your own interest now,
But you still struggle with imposter syndrome.
When you see other writers floundering, you wonder
If you are a failure because you haven’t even tried yet.
And when other writers succeed, you drown in self pity
Saying you could never reach those levels of platform,
That it’s useless to dream.

Future self,
I hope that you haven’t let your storytelling
Fall by the wayside.
But if you still write, God willing,
Sharpen your pencil.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Before the platform, comes the story.
So many others have failed because they assumed the world was ready to hear them.
The world did not listen,
And the writers talked louder
To an empty room,
As the echoes bounced off the walls.
Nobody listened.

A second story, a second attempt,
But the writer returns to the echo chamber.
They should have focused on sharpening their pencil.

When you die,
You could leave behind powerful stories that speak from your heart,
But if you don’t write at all,
You won’t be able to accomplish anything
Because you fear the echoes.

You fear the echoes.
You waver between sharpening your pencil and talking to walls.
It has discouraged you.
You have read all the instructions on how to market and publish and gain readers,
But you cannot make a connection.
It feels like the world is against you.
They aren’t ready to listen to your story.

(Image courtesy of Disney+ Hamilton trailer on YouTube.com)

And as long as you talk to the chamber,
The echoes will come back.
You say, “Sit down, let me tell you a story,”
And the silence breaks you.
This is not why you write, you say.
I write for an audience,
And fame is so far away.
It may never come closer.

I just struck your greatest fear, didn’t I?
Lauryn, sometimes you have to allow yourself to dream.
But don’t chase your dreams recklessly,
Use your patience and catch your dreams when they come within your grasp.

But now,
Sharpen your pencil.

If you write for anyone, write for yourself,
And trust that you are not
A damsel in distress,
And you are not
An author who needs to be saved by a top 5 publisher or a high level contract.

Fame is shiny, but tarnishes fast,
And once you get to the top, you vanish quickly,
Like fog on a warm spring morning.
Then your career
Will be marked completed, over,
A thing of the past.
Some never come back from that.

Would you want to use up your career so quickly?

(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)


Even though you’ve written many stories,
You’re still learning.
It will take many more novels before you master your art.
So why keep talking to empty walls?

Past self, sharpen your pencil.
Get to work before you reach too high.
Your dreams are a ladder, you have to climb slow
Or you will topple.
You toppled when you realized that you can’t guarantee fame,
That marketing doesn’t fix everything.
It stung your pride,
But trust me,
You needed to fall.

Present self,
You stopped believing in your dreams
When you felt torn between dreams and reality.
You’re afraid to dream, because unlike many,
You know how far you are from fame.
Reality has hit you.
You may never be published.

You don’t know if you want to pick up your pencil
Because the dreams you used to hold
Are always in someone else’s hands.
That empty chamber terrifies you.

It’s okay, I promise.
Keep your stories close.
If they’re not ready, it’s best to trust your instinct and keep your name clear.
Don’t enter the echo chamber
If you don’t believe in yourself.

Future self,
Keep sharpening your pencil.
The only way you will get ahead in this world
Is by following your passions.
Don’t grow discouraged when other writers get out of the echo chamber.
Don’t let their fame discourage you.
Be encouraged instead.
It is better to have a good story in your desk drawer
Than six mediocre stories at a publishing house.
Learn from those at the top,
Because they got to the top for a reason.


Pick your dreams wisely and realistically,
But don’t worry if everyone else shares your dreams.
You’ve come a long way already,
And you’re still moving forward.
Look at all of the people behind you.
You aren’t at the back of the line, you’re at the middle,
And that is one of the best places to be.

So when you tell the world,
“Sit down, let me tell you a story,”
Is the answer still discouraging?
Do the walls still echo?
Lauryn, the only thing you should do in this situation
Is to sharpen your pencil again.
Write more, edit more.
Grow your experience, develop expertise.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com)

You’re not in it for the money,
And you’re not in it for the fame.
You’re in it because you chose to be a writer.

Dear past, present, and future self,
The world might not listen to you now,
And you have to be okay with that.
It’s better to write for yourself,
Because an audience of one is better than an audience of none.

So don’t fear the echoes.

Write like you’re running out of time,
Sharpen your pencil,
For your best work is yet to come.


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2 replies on “Encouragement for Writers (Inspired by Hamilton)”

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