John Grisham is rich and famous.

But that’s not why he started writing.

John Grisham wrote his first novel with no dreams of making $9 million a year, or of selling 235 million copies of his books worldwide, or of having six baseball fields on his property.

John Grisham wrote his first novel why?  So he could say he wrote a novel.  That’s all.  He just wanted to be able to point to a stack of white paper on his desk and say, “Look!  I wrote a novel.”  He ran across a subject that he felt needed to be written, so he wrote it, even though he had never written before.

He wrote it by getting up at 5 AM every morning for three years, while he was working 60 – 80 hours a week as a state representative.

When he first started writing, Grisham says, he had “these little rituals that were silly and brutal but very important.  The alarm clock would go off at 5, and I’d jump in the shower. My
office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office,
with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at
5:30, five days a week.”  His goal: to write a page every day.

Anybody can write a page a day. If you sit down and write a page a day, do you know what you’ll have 365 days later? You’ll have a novel!” (

When he finished that novel, two things happened:

1.  He was rejected by 15 publishers.

2.  He started writing The Firm the very next day.  The movie rights sold before he even found a publisher, and he was on his way.

And now, after all of the success, he still squeezes out a novel a year.

Doing something, anything, to “be famous” or to “be rich” is fine, but it’s not art.  There are a zillion ways to “be famous” or “be rich”, and they’re a lot easier than what we do.

Write, act, produce, design because you have to do it, and for no other reason.  If you’re diligent and harder on yourself than any boss could ever be, all the other stuff will come.

And when it does, you’ll still want to keep doing it, just like John.  Even if you have 12 baseball fields on your property.

If it doesn’t come?  Well, who cares.  Something tells me John Grisham would still be getting up at 5 AM every morning to write, even if he never sold a single copy of his stack of white paper.

The only difference is by now he’d be able to say, “Look!  I wrote 21 novels.”

Anyone out there know what John Grisham and Hal Prince have in common?  Free $25 iTunes gift card to the first “commenter” that comes up with what I’m looking for.

And hey, no “gheating”.  I know you guys so well.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.