Writing Your Book: Obey Your Impulse – Earl Nightingale
When inspiration strikes, do you write it down immediately? Do you sit and start that story, typing away with an urgency to tell that story while your Muse can still dictate it to you? Here are some tips about why it may be a great idea. From the master storyteller, Earl Nightingale…
Refusing to obey our impulses often keeps us from having a lot of fun and perhaps from doing a lot of things we should be doing.
Have you noticed that from time to time, for no particularly good reason, you will get a sudden impulse—feel a sudden urge? Everything about the idea seems good at the moment; you can’t find a thing wrong with it. But instead of acting on the impulse right then, you wait, you sit back and begin thinking about it critically. Pretty soon you can find a lot of reasons for not doing it, or it just passes, and an opportunity is gone – forever.
These sudden impulses often come straight out of our subconscious minds, giving us valuable direction—direction we should be taking. By vetoing them, we miss all kinds of opportunities. Dr. William Moulton Marston, a consulting psychologist, says that most people stifle enough good impulses during the course of a day to change the current of their lives. These inner ﬂashes light up their minds for an instant and set them all aglow with the stimulation of the thing. But then they lapse back into the old routine, apparently content to bask in the afterglow which the impulse has provided and content to feel that maybe later on they might do something about it. On this very subject William James said,
“Every time a resolve or ﬁne glow of feeling evaporates without bearing fruit, it is worse than a chance lost; it works to hinder future emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.”
At one point in his career Dr. Marston was employed by a Hollywood motion picture studio where he worked with Walter B. Pitkin. One day they were presented with an ambitious production idea from a young promoter. The plan appealed to both of them, but they reacted differently. While Marston was mulling the thing over, Pitkin picked up a telephone and started dictating a lengthy telegram to a friend in Wall Street. The telegram was almost a yard long when it was I delivered, but it carried conviction. As a result of Pitkin’s spur-of-the-moment impulse, a ten-million-dollar underwriting of a new motion picture was brought about.
Calvin Coolidge remains an enigma to political commentators because the reasons for his actions were seldom apparent and the source of his shrewdness could not be traced. Almost none of our presidents would seem to have been less impulsive than Calvin Coolidge, but the truth is that he literally trained himself to rely on hunches. As a young attorney in a country law ﬁrm, he was interviewing a client one day when he received a telephone call and learned that a county political boss was in town. Without hesitation, he cut short his interview and decided to see this man about proposing himself as a candidate for the legislature. The impulse bore fruit and from then on the inner urges of Calvin Coolidge led him consistently from one political success to another.
A sudden impulse to do something you know you ought not to do should be stiﬂed. But when one of those great hunches pops into your mind, act on it right away or you may miss your opportunity – forever.
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Also published on Medium.