By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Rearrange the Furniture


Why Authors Should Never Be Afraid to Write Something Different


My parents came to town last weekend to visit my wife and me and our 2-year-old daughter. Ok, you’re right. They flew out to visit their grand-daughter and I just happened to be there, but that’s beside the point.

We had friends and family over for Easter brunch last Sunday. To accommodate the need for more space, we moved the furniture in the living room so it was more open for our guests. Ultimately, this really just involved moving a couch back against a wall so the room opened up.

Later that day after the guests had left I commented, “I’m not sure whether I like this new set up or not.”

To which my mother quipped, “I like it. And you can always just move it back.”

She is a brilliant woman my mother. I could always just move it back. My mind quickly wandered from how easy it will be to move the furniture back to other times in life I’m afraid to try something, particularly in my writing, when really I can always just move things back.

As writers, we always seem to be afraid of trying something. We’re always fearful of moving the furniture.


[clickToTweet tweet=”As writers, we always seem afraid of trying something. We’re always fearful of moving the furniture.” quote=”As writers, we always seem afraid of trying something. We’re always fearful of moving the furniture.”]


It starts at the beginning, the very beginning. That first day we have that dream of writing a book. How long did it take you to put the proverbial pen to paper? And why? Fear of failure? So what. You can always go back to what you’re doing. You can always move the furniture back.

Then it happens as we start creating our first work. We’re afraid to throw in an action sequence. We’re worried about pontificating too much in our self-help book. We’re wary of including a sex scene in our novel. Why? Try it out. Write. If you don’t like it, you can always move the furniture back.

Soon we’re unwilling to write that second book because the first didn’t sell well. Or we’re nervous about trying a different genre altogether. But you can always move the furniture back.

Those of you that follow my Sticky Books know that Daring Greatly by Brene Brown is a book I recommend. (For those of you new here, Sticky Books are those books that just stick with me. Long after I’ve finished reading them, they are still turning over and over in my head.) The title of the book is inspired by an excellent Teddy Roosevelt quote, one that has long been one of my father’s favorites:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and create something, whether that’s a book, artwork, a company, a family… It takes a lot of courage to dare greatly. As a writer, you have taken a lot of courageous risks and it is commendable.


[clickToTweet tweet=”It takes courage to be vulnerable and create. Writers take a lot of courageous risks. #amwriting” quote=”It takes courage to be vulnerable and create something. Writers take a lot of courageous risks. “]


But moving furniture is about trying minor adjustments, not major adjustments. Despite having already taken the risk of writing, we’re still afraid to move the furniture, even though we can always move it back.

So next time you’re wondering if you should take that risk with your writing, go ahead and do it. Try it on for size. Who cares what others think. If you are basing the success and failure of your writing on whether you receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from others, most of us will unfortunately be disappointed.

Tina Fey has a a great quote about trying: “Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions…Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”

Just go for it. Do it because you’re curious. Do it because you love to create. Do it because you’re passionate.

Go ahead. Rearrange the furniture. You can always move it back.



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.


  1. Bob Germaux

    This was a fun read, Dan, not least of all because how often do you see Teddy and Tina quoted in the same piece. I love the concept of “rearranging the furniture.” That’s a wonderful analogy for writers. Thanks for a great post and some great advice!

    • danburi777

      Thanks, Bob. But you will have to thank my wise mother! She is full of pearls of wisdom and the patience of a sage!

  2. Ross Ponderson

    Well said, Dan.

    I think you’ve pretty much described the mental anguish to which most of us–successful or not–subject ourselves in the pursuit of literary PERFECTION. I know I’ve often considered throwing out all the furniture and starting over … or perhaps even eating and sleeping on the floor! Most of us indie authors are still trying to “find themselves” and their audiences; and we’re so damned afraid of making that dumb mistake that will set our progress back or even knock us out of the ballpark entirely. I know *I* am! I don’t know HOW MANY times I’ve come soooo close to scrapping my still-uncompleted 2nd novel because I’m fearful that the subject matter will turn readers off and veer them away.

    THAT’S when I reach for the M&M’s. I guess we all have our vices. Besides, it’s a helluva lot easier than moving the furniture … again.


    • danburi777

      It’s so true Ross. There’s the idea that our work has to be perfect before publishing. I know I went round and round for far too long with Pieces Like Pottery before I realized that it was time for me to let it go. It wasn’t perfect, but it was time for me to release it.

      There’s a story I like to tell that I heard. (I share it in this post: Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I once heard him speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.

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