Lessons from My Day Job: “Go Big or Go Home”


My boss loves this phrase. We first heard it from a very wise client who was trying to implement improvement efforts in his business (Though it's been quoted long before that!). He started with small initiatives in each department, which worked well…at the department level. Unfortunately, that approach didn’t really build momentum at an organization-wide level and the company was stuck churning its wheels without much sustainable progress. That’s when our client instituted the idea of “Go Big or Go Home”—it’s an attitude of “You’re either in or you’re out,” and “Come Hell or high-water, we’re going to create change.”

And it worked!

Sure, it was hard and nerve-wracking and frustrating.  Some people complained—or left—but the end results were dramatic. They created passionate employees, stronger teams and sky-rocketed our client ahead of competitors.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, friends, there comes a time when we all face the decision to Go Big or Go Home. Whether you’re struggling to crank out a first draft, swearing at your umpteenth edit or having a nervous breakdown during the query process, at some point, you’re going to want to quit.

It’s tempting to walk away and say “I was busy today, I don’t have time to write,” or “I’ve already edited it once, surely it must be ready for submission,” or “I know I should find a critique group, but I’m afraid to share my work.” Yet each of those decisions is like my client’s initial department-by-department approach.

They won’t make you a better writer in the end.

If you’re serious about being a writer, you have to be willing to take some risks, jump in over your head, put yourself in uncomfortable and unknown situations with no guarantee of success, and buckle down with the dedication to really and truly see this through to the end. Some people won’t be able to do that, and that’s okay. But, make no mistake, that level of commitment is what it takes to be a writer.

Take a few moments to really examine what you’re willing to put into this, what you’re willing to sacrifice, and perhaps more importantly, what you’re NOT willing to sacrifice.

What’s it going to be for you? Go big? Or go home?


  1. I'm swearing at my draft as I pound it into shape, and I've been at it since 2003, so I think I'm going big ;)

  2. "you have to be willing to take some risks..."

    Lots of good advice in this post. It makes me want to go big. :)

  3. Agreed. I realized a few weeks ago that it doesn't make sense for a race I've created to speak English. Now I have a huge reading list to prepare me for the monumental (yet exciting) task of creating a new, believable language. It's big, but I have time to do it.

  4. Miss Cole: I'd say you're going EPIC! :)

    Thanks Hektor.

    GK: Good luck on the new language. I bet you'll have a blast! I just went through that myself for one of my WIPs, and you're right...it's monumental and yet so fun, too.

  5. Holy moses, GK is creating a new language? That IS going big! While it's easier and safer to just go home, I can't do it. I need to write, share my work, get feedback from crit partners, and keep working to make it better, come hell or high water. I guess I'm going big!