I Am Not James Patterson

And Neither Are You

I Am Not James Patterson
Photo by Sibel Yıldırım / Unsplash

In the last three months, I’ve only published two noncommissioned¹ stories. Two. Last year I published a new story each week. This is a very different feeling.

In the middle of July, I published some thoughts on leadership. The story kind of bombed and instead of taking my advice I got trapped in my head.

“All my ideas are terrible.”

“Everyone else is much better at this writing thing than me.”

“Maybe I’m not cut out to write.”

My brain generated each of these ideas but nothing worth actually writing and exploring.


As I thought about three months of stagnation, I realized something important:

I am not James Patterson.

James Patterson is the most prolific writer out there. He’s published more novels than I care to count² and makes more money than any other author out there. Looking at his productivity and anyone can feel less than.


James Patterson doesn’t write everything published under his name.

According to the Washington Post, James Patterson outlines and curates ideas that a team of co-writers receives and develop. He’s like a factory.

James Patterson is the Henry Ford of the writing industry. Henry Ford died in 1947 yet cars are still produced under his name daily.

I am not James Patterson. Chances are, neither are you. And you know what? That’s ok!

If you’re anything like me, you are responsible for marketing and networking and pitching and generating ideas. You probably also have a full-time job that isn’t publishing things online.

James Patterson had to start somewhere. Someday you or I might have a team generating ideas or finishing them for us. Maybe.

Instead, I will try not to get into my head. If ideas are scarce, like they are right now, I’ll step back and explore other people’s ideas. I’ll read and experience life waiting for inspiration to strike.

When it does, I’ll be ready.

1: While I published nothing personal in three months, I have published five pitches for ProWritingAid and six sermons. So maybe my energies were diverted in different areas?

2: I’ve never read a James Patterson novel.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!