I can’t stop talking about Chuck Palahniuk’s new book: Consider This: Moments In My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different. Unable to contain my excitement, I created a promotional video for Instagram, which you might’ve seen. I’ve watched my copy at least a dozen times. I’d be mortified by this admission, if the book didn’t make me so damn happy. But it does. I read the book twice and bought the audio book, which I listen to every morning, over breakfast, to kick off my writing day. It may be the most insane-sane thing I’ve done since committing to my writing life.

I’ve been kidnapped by Chuck Palahniuk, but don’t rescue me.

If you’re a writer— no matter where you are in your journey— you have to read this book. I dare you to read this book. If you don’t discover at least one lightbulb moment for your journey, or your WIP, then maybe it’s time to examine exactly why you want to write.

Problem: Your work fails to attract an agent, editor, or audience.

Consider: Does that really matter? If writing is fun…if it exhausts your personal issues…if it puts you in the company of other people who enjoy it…if it allows you to attend parties and share your stories and enjoy the stories told by others…if you’re growing and experimenting with every draft…if you’d be happy writing for the rest of your life, does your work really need to be validated by others?

Of course, I want to be published, but my life won’t end if a book deal doesn’t come. The challenge to improve is enough. Whenever a new storytelling puzzle piece snaps into place, there’s always a “Hello, McFly” moment, but it whizzes by because the momentum of the new skillset gets me all hot and bothered. And that’s exactly what Consider This is doing for me everyday thanks to the little dares Palahniuk tosses out.

So if you were my student, I’d urge you to cut your narrative like a film editor cuts film. To do this, you can use a repeating chorus: “the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about…” or “Sorry, Mom. Sorry, God.” Thus cuing the reader with a sort-of touchstone that indicates: We’re about to jump to something different.

I applied this suggestion to a chapter in the memoir I’m writing and— Wham Bam— the chapter was infused with energy and movement and no crap. All the filler and transitional stuff I normally weigh down a manuscript with never even surfaced in my consciousness. The only thing that mattered was the core of the story. One little suggestion and my writing transformed while I was writing.

Since then, I caught myself moving from Big voice to Little voice— before Consider This, I’m not even sure I understood what they were. Now, each day, I consciously maneuver between those two voices in order to propel the story forward.

I’ve been kidnapped by Chuck Palahniuk, but don’t rescue me.

Because I’ve decided to commit myself to the Chuck Palahniuk Graduate School for Writing for this entire year, or however long it takes because I am ready to grow beyond the easy “default” ways of writing that rob [my] work of its power.

The plan is simple. Read all the short stories and novels he references in Consider This, as well as, all of his books I haven’t read, and experiment with each of his suggestions.

It’s a big undertaking. A goal, much like those well-intentioned-never-attained New Year’s Resolutions many people make. But I’m not worried because reading Consider This has become the moment in my writing life after which everything was different.

So, don’t rescue me.

Pick up a physical copy or get the audio book— I’m talking to non-writers too. Consider This provides the inside scoop on how a writer thinks. All the answers your booklover self has been wondering about: where do the stories come from? Why do you fall in love with fictional characters? How do you get sucked into believing the impossible? What makes a book a page turner? Can the idea that’s been stuck in your head for years be shaped into a marketable story? All the mysteries of writing are revealed in 233 pages. And the material reads like fiction thanks to the use of three types of communication. Three parts description. Two parts instruction. One part onomatopoeia— mixed to taste.

You’ll also be introduced to a bunch of new books. Wouldn’t you love to expand your reading horizon and make a whole new set of authors happy in 2020? I’m all in— as a writer and reader.

I’ve been kidnapped by Chuck Palahniuk, but don’t rescue me because I’m finally learning how to spell his name.