Chapter 1-You are a Great leader, Be Voracious

  “Ah, my fine little Mongolian, you wish to follow in my footsteps and conquer all. Make the Steppes your own personal playground. To be the master of all that you survey.

    It is not so easily done, you suspect.

    You are right.

    Do you think that I left the cradle and the loving arms of my mother and conquered more of the world than your puny Alexander ever did? Do you think I did this without a great deal of hard work?

Genghis Khan’s Rules for (Warriors) Writers-A Sample

Of course not. I learned to ride before I could conquer all.

I learned to wield my sword. I learned about fighting and battle.

I was not always Genghis, nor the Khan. Say of that period when I was Temujin, that I was learning my craft and what I needed to know to become the great Khan.”


“This is the period you are in before you are a writer. Surely you have had some schooling in your life where you have sat at a desk and a teacher has assigned you some task involving paper and pencil. Guiding you to learn what are the parts of a sentence. Noun, verb, the adjective.

I tell you now, forget all that.”


“If you speak to people, then you know inherently what you need to write. You know how to say a sentence and write one as well.

But now you wish to conquer the bookshelf and have the world remember you as they remember me? Then should you not know what you are up against? You must go and attack other books. You must devour them. You must do so until you are full and then, read more till you burst.

You will never be a writer unless you have been a reader first.

I was never a great conqueror except that I was a great warrior first. I had to know what my men were going to suffer under my guidance, before I could guide them.


As Genghis tells us, you must be a reader before you will be a writer. The bookshelf is full of thousands of titles and there is not a reason why you can not see yours amongst them. Now, in our current time, becoming an author whose books are on the shelf is even easier then ever before. You may think that this is contra indicated.

First the industry is changing, and how we connect to readers is changing. This will define how we as writers must respond.

There are now less big publishing houses. That is true.

However there are many small publishing houses to send your manuscript to, once you are ready.

There are less big publishing houses, so there are less editors, and less marketers to support you, and less agents to send your work to.

There are still agents, a lot of agents.

But there are less of all those great support services that were available before eReaders changed the landscape of the business. The Internet has been around since the 1960s and has been explosive and geared towards consumers since the 1990s. As the Personcal Computer saw the demise of the profession of typesetters, eReaders are seeing the demise of the publishing industry.

In 2010 and 2011; Amazon and Barnes and Noble both released announcements that said they sell more electronic books, then they do physical books.

2011 saw the death of Borders. The murder of Borders by the hands of Genghis Khan and his barbarian Horde.

But that does not mean that reading has been on the decline. It means that the way to get stories to be read has changed.

While the Personal Computer has come to sit upon our desks the typewriter, which replaced the trusty quill and pot of ink before it, disappeared. Stories are going from hard copy to electric impulses. Now a writer finds that he writes by typing on a keyboard that sends a signal of code that really is eight pulses of electrons strung together. They are either on or off. A is 01000001 and a is 01100001, where the 1’s are the positive voltage and the 0’s are not on.

But that does not matter as much as does you who type out a book on the computer. You now create a file that is much easier to send to hundreds, thousands, millions, who are interested in your story.

For a small minority, before eReaders started to become ubiquitous, reading a story on the computer, or on a PDA (the Palm PDA’s were big starting in the 1990’s to be replaced by RIM, and now Smartphones) was a trial. Even before Amazon sold their first Kindle, others were creating devices that had as much screen real estate as a good paperback.

It just was not as comfortable for the readers, those who plunk down the money, to read. Amazon saw that there was a dynamic shift that they could achieve, and the Kindle has made our industry evolve.

For the writer, this is a tremendous thing. Spurred by Apple, Amazon and others are providing the writer, up to 70% of the retail price of their works.

The companies handle the distribution. They handle the cataloging.

It does not mean that our current authors do not do their own marketing, which the traditional publishing houses are requiring as well. (Do you have a website? Genghis knows that more of his enemies were conquered by the fear of his name, then by his sword. Well he would tell it that way. The meaning would be that you want the world to know of your coming before you get to your destination. Make sure you have the means to tell the world you are out there.)

Price your story at ten dollars and nearly seven of that is now yours. The traditional publishing model would give you less than a dollar. It is why you, young Mongolian Warrior, can see that there is a vast world to conquer.

But as the chinese philosopher Sun-Tzu would say, know your enemy. You have many of them in this pursuit of writing. There are these publishers, who have sat in their high castles and are telling their warriors, the other authors already under contract, to do better. To write more. To save money, the publishers let people go and read less new material that is sent to them.

They need to change as well in this new world, but they seem slow to do so.

So the time is right for you to come forth from the Steppes and seize all that you can.

Reading is the preparation you are first going to need to do to be able to be a great writer.

You like tales of conquest, then I hope you have read much about Genghis, and many other historical figures as well. We are all larger than life and we shall talk about that later. Our stories take you on the journey of one man making the difference. A great leader is one man, with many who support him of course, but still one man that the reader, you will see, identifies on some level with. Have you not read ten stories, 100 stories, a 1000 and seen that it is so?

I am not advocating that you read 1000 novels about conquering heroes, unless that is the one genre you wish to immerse yourself in. And a good writer should be more well rounded than focused on one genre.

Genghis would tell you he was good with bow, he was good with sword. He rode excellently well.

Not that I believe you need to read every genre or limit yourself to fiction. You may want to write nonfiction magazine articles, or even a writers help book. What you want to do is what you learned in high school chemistry. Osmosis.

The dictionary (a tool you will need as a writer) says those molecules of writing are going to get into your mind until they are absorbed.

Read a lot and absorb things.

Some writers and writing guides will tell you to carry a notebook and write down everything you see. Genghis surely did not learn his lessons in conquest by writing down everything he had done or seen preparing himself to lead the Mongols to world conquest. What he did was experience a thing and that went into the mix of his greatness.

I am not one to write down in a notebook all my disparate thoughts. I am not one to write in a book I am reading, underline a passage, or dog-ear the work.

Will I find that passage when I need it later? Probably not.

Will I be able to sort through tens or hundreds of those little notebooks that the other writers with their guidebooks have advised you to carry around. Not at all.

Would they overwhelm my desk should I do so. They probably would have. Instead I have ten or so blank notebooks that I have bought over twenty years. A few of them have ideas on the pages. They are all in a drawer somewhere.

Now, when working on a project, that is a different matter. Now I am 100 percent focused. And now I have much better technology then we used to have.

Did you know in your smartphone there is a memo recorder? This being the first chapter, it means that I have relatively recently started to write about writing.

Genghis would no doubt have had a scribe nearby to write down his instructions and directives. Yesterday I was driving, and so, hands-free of course, I turned on the smartphone and spoke out the key points to the ideas for this guide book.

Then at home, I was able to replay them and transfer what I had been thinking and had recorded to my phone. Now I put them into the various great places on my writing template that has locations to store my research. My outline.

Even my voice files that I made while driving and recorded on the smartphone (you must have guessed, it is an iPhone) can be brought over and attached to my writing file.

If you are the note-taking writer, my only advice to you would be that you corral those notes and really file them in a great way. Something that you revisit often, for from my experience, unclearly labeled files have their meanings change. Now we have a way of tagging items we write with keywords. For instance if you type up a character trait, and it is of someone eating an ice cream cone, perhaps they licked their cone with their tongue languorously dragging from the lower right. You might tag the writing piece with ice cream, languorous, and other labels. But a torn page from your little notebook, placed in a file might only have one label you can attach the thought to.

Genghis says you must understand how he would not want to be cluttered down with so much paper. He would think what he remembered seeing when someone licked that ice cream cone. Though Genghis would ask us then, what is an ice cream cone?

This however has little to do with reading.

Reading a great deal.

Letting new material in and stew for a while in your mind.

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