Last Word

Write like you have nothing to lose



“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

–James A. Baldwin

nothing to lose

(Flickr: Prayitno)

This notion of risk and reward is a powerful one. Modern society is filled with examples of people who free-fall into perilous, even criminal activities when they feel hopeless and empty.

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The results can be catastrophic, especially for those who find themselves victimized by another person’s desperation. Writing takes us to some very dark places, to be sure.

And this is a place where one of your character’s may find himself — anxious and despairing, devoid and completely removed from the joys of this world. What actions will that character take in order to release himself from such desolation? How will the plot move forward from this dark event and will it be possible to redeem the act and leave the reader with some sense of hope for the future?

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Conversely, a person with nothing to lose can sometimes manage to see risk in its most positive and motivating light, infusing the spirit with the courage to take a chance when it might otherwise cower. Gambling big and betting large can mean a flush of accolades, so long as others have not been damaged in the process.

When a writer writes as though he has nothing to lose, the results can be liberating. It’s with this freedom that storylines can soar, characters can come alive, book sales can thrive.

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What risks have you taken lately? In your storytelling? Or even in your life and writing career? How can you leverage those risks into rewards to bring about a successful end to your novel or a brilliant marketing tool for your new non-fiction book?

Give some thought today to where and how you can charge ahead bravely and positively with the belief that you have nothing to lose and that your writing and life can only get better.

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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