Write your memoir when you get a Round Tuit

By Jerry Waxler

The first time I heard about a Round Tuit was in the early seventies. I was working at my first real job after college, at United Engineers in Philadelphia. As I tried to understand how to cope with the working life, the old timers generously dispensed their wisdom in the form of witty expressions, like “Nolo Bastardo Carborundum.” (Don’t let the bastards wear you down). The first time I saw the word “TUIT” on a round pin, and someone explained what it was, I thought it was the funniest thing I ever heard.

It turns out, like so much of the humor of an office environment, there is pain behind the joke. Many things we want to do must wait until we get around to it. And those are quite often valuable activities that can contribute to the quality of our lives. One such project is writing my memoir. Writing the stories of my life would let me gather my memories, organize them, and share them with others. But who has time?

Perhaps if someone handed me one of those “round tuits” I’d be ready. But if no one hands me one, how can I create my own? Recognizing the life altering power of “round tuits,” I made it a personal challenge to find strategies that would help me convert desire into action. Some of my favorite ideas came from Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” a book so insightful I give it credit for changing my life. And Tony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within” is so full of useful information it’s like going to graduate school for self improvement. In fact, I did go to graduate school, for a Master’s degree in counseling, and while I was learning to help others, I continued to learn strategies which I summarize in my website Mental Health Survival Guide.

From all this material, I applied my thinking to aspiring writers who try to get themselves through all those nasty obstacles like, “I don’t have time” or “No one is going to like this” or “I’m not a writer.” I offered workshops to help writers write, and then condensing it all I wrote a book, Four Elements for Writers. So let’s just say I have a few thoughts on this issue.

After all my years of searching, it boils down to the most basic of human equations. If it’s what you want, work for it. Push through as many obstacles as possible. And when you reach obstacles you can’t get through, find help. Look for advice about how to move boulders, go around them, break them down to accessible size, or gain the strength and skill to leap over them.

This simple equation is demonstrated for us over and over in the classic story structure we’ve been hearing since childhood. In stories, someone wants something. They set out to achieve it. It’s a long journey. They encounter obstacles. They find allies. They overcome previous assumptions. They get smacked around. And they keep going. By the end of the story they have gotten around to it. It wasn’t necessarily easy. In fact, in the stories we enjoy most, the obstacles were formidable. But that’s okay. The wounds our heroes receive on this journey are kind of romantic. They often even gain wisdom along the way.

To achieve your goals, apply this story structure to your own life. You want to write. You overcome obstacles. Gather allies. The journey is not necessarily easy, but that’s okay. You have a story to live. Like every other thing you have accomplished in your life, grab a Round Tuit from the pile, or make your own, solve the problems, and write.

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