Congratulations to Lori Bruton for Winning the August 2023 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

What’s the worst advice you were ever given, and did you follow it?

Lori told a touching story about overcoming harsh words and self-doubt to find a path forward. Enjoy her winning submission:

The Barefoot Writing Challenge for August:
What’s the worst advice you were ever given, and did you follow it?

“Don’t Write a Book. No One Will Read It.”

Lori Bruton

Mark Twain supposedly said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

The room was pulsating with the promise of growth, empowerment, and dreams at this event. I found myself here, an eager participant, hungry for inspiration and encouragement.

The speaker was about to unleash a wave of wisdom upon the attendees. He was the righthand man to a New York Times bestselling author who has sold more than 24 million books on leadership. Meeting him was the next best thing to meeting the author himself.

The topics he covered at the event included burning desire, creativity, and not negotiating with your dreams. My dream was to be a published author.

During intermission, I ventured to the back of the room with my daughter by my side. Electrifying anticipation filled the air while we waited in line to talk to the speaker.

I reached out to shake the hand of this luminary. He inquired, “Have you read my book?”

To my chagrin, I replied, “No, I haven’t.”

With a tone as cold as the winter wind, he uttered words that pierced my very soul. “That’s because I never wrote one. Don’t write a book. No one will read it.”

(Gasp) The room seemed to spin. My daughter’s steady presence prevented me from falling to the floor. This man, an authority in my eyes, had just advised me against pursuing my dream. How could he work for a bestselling author and advise me not to write books?

In the months that followed, I laid down my pen, and my incomplete manuscript gathered dust. I believed that I needed fame to write a book worth reading, a daunting prospect, given the countless chapters already in existence. My self-doubt and his advice eclipsed my dream.

Yet, there was an emptiness in my heart, a silent yearning for the words that needed to be written. I bought a new pen, envisioning the book signings that lay ahead. Today, I am the author of two nonfiction books and two children’s books. People are reading my words, finding value, and connecting with my stories. I’m grateful that I followed my heart and ignored the worst advice that almost led me astray.

Within you, too, lie stories untold, dreams yet unfulfilled. Have you abandoned them, resigned to the whims of doubt and fear? It’s time to resurrect those dreams, to breathe life into them.

Listen to your heart and follow your dreams, for they are the keys to your destiny. As you stand on the threshold of your potential, remember that even the worst advice, delivered by the most esteemed of voices, can never stifle the power of your dreams.

Write, create, dream. Let your words resonate, let your dreams take flight. Embrace your destiny. Words have power. Never stop writing. I am glad I pursued my calling to keep writing.