ARE YOU A CONFIDENT WRITER? [Ernest K. Gann chained himself to his desk.]

ARE YOU A CONFIDENT WRITER? [Ernest K. Gann chained himself to his desk.]

ARE YOU A CONFIDENT WRITER? [Ernest K. Gann chained himself to his desk.]

Posted on 06/04/2014 Evan Swensen

Ernest K. Gann was known as a “ . . . man who has done everything, been everywhere, known everyone and has the talent to write about it with charm and wit.”

So said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a man who wrote 21 best-selling novels, including Fate is the Hunter and Island in the Sky. Several were made into movies. He even liked some of the films. But not the Hollywood version of Fate is the Hunter. Gann was so unhappy with it, in fact, that he demanded his name be taken off the credits.
That ended up costing him a great deal of money, because that meant he got no royalties or residuals from the movie, which tended to be shown repeatedly on TV over the years.

Gann was not a success in school, but began making money from directing and writing movies when he was 16. He admitted, in his autobiography A Hostage to Fortune, that all that money in his pockets was a heavy burden for a young man. That was in 1926, and the movies were one of several careers he fell in and out of, including that of sailor, airline pilot, and environmental conservationist.

But over and over again, he turned to writing books, and eventually, being an author was his longest-running career.

Like his other careers, it tended to be a boom or bust situation, because he never saved any money when he was making money. Fortunately, he had good friends and supportive family for those dry times.

Gann was famous for his lack of self-confidence as an author, and this led to procrastination and a lack of typed pages sent to his agents and publishers. This was something he grappled with for many years. He tried several ways to trick himself into writing.

He even admitted he would actually chain himself to his desk, with a long, heavy chain elaborately tucked and twisted around his study, with the key hidden nearly out of reach in a heating vent. Gann even told the world in his autobiography, how he’d almost once not been able to get hold of the key after long hours at his desk, and had barely made it to the bathroom downstairs.

I want you to notice that lack of self-confidence didn’t prevent Gann from writing and selling millions of good books.

So you can ditch the doubts, skip the long chain, and just get to work.

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