October 5th, 2011 by Bob Mayer
Change for Writers, Part II:  Moment of Enlightenment

Moment of Enlightenment  from Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author

To have an MOE (moment of enlightenment) you experience something you never experienced before. Or you experience something you’ve experienced before, but it affects you differently than ever before. This is the classic light bulb going on. By itself, it is not change, just a momentary awareness.

Most of what you do day-in and day-out is habit. And habits are extremely difficult to change. To have a moment of enlightenment you have to become open-minded, one of the character traits we’ve already talked about. You have to be able to change your point of view—your perspective. You must get out of your every-day rut.

Break out of your comfort zone and look at something in the opposite way you’ve always looked at it. Entertain the possibility that what you think is your greatest strength, might actually be a defense (a blind spot) layered over your greatest flaw that can blind you to opportunities to change. Reverse thinking is a very strong tool to help find moments of enlightenment.

Denial often blocks MOEs.

Angers stops MOEs when it is actually an indicator of an MOE

Bargaining dilutes MOEs.


Moments Of Enlightenment Comes In Several Ways

  • A new experience you’ve never encountered before effects you
  • Something you’ve experienced before effects you in a new way
  • You witness someone else doing something differently, and it affects you

A successful person is always looking at the world around him, trying to see previously unseen possibilities. The more information you gather, the more possible courses of action you have.

Many times, those who surround us are trying to give us the gift of enlightenment, but we ignore their message. In a marriage, often one partner is trying to give the spouse enlightenment, but the message is ignored. At work, a co-worker might be pointing something out to you, which goes by you without notice. In your critique group or with your beta reader, they might be trying to point something out to you, but you ignore it or don’t get the real message.

Some Examples

A moment of enlightenment for me came in the Special Forces Qualification course. During a Phase I patrolling exercise, we spent several February days being rained on—not exactly the most comfortable experience. Several students had to be medevacked out for hypothermia. When the exercise concluded, we were given an eight-hour break, still out in the middle of the woods, before moving on to the next training exercise. We no longer had to be supporting.

It was still pouring and cold. Most students huddled, shivering and sopping wet, underneath their ponchos. I watched, though, as one student ignored the elements and walked about, gathering firewood. He piled it up, and then worked hard to get a fire started. After quite a bit of effort, he had a roaring blaze and a grateful circle of students standing around, warming themselves and drying off.

My moment of enlightenment? When miserable, don’t just hunker down and ignore the environment—instead, take action to make the environment better. Over the years since, that realization has served me well in numerous situations. Thinking about being warm and dry while wet and cold did nothing. A decision was required, followed by a course of action—in this example, literally going against the elements.

I gave a keynote at a conference and spoke to a senior executive at Amazon afterward.  He told me one key he’d found to success was to be persistent.  To not take no for an answer.  I used to take ‘no’ as an end, not a beginning.  I became persistent at pursuing rights to my Area 51 series, sending an email every week to my editor and a snail mail letter every week to the rights person at Random House.  Eventually, one day, I got an exasperated email from the editor asking if it would make me happy if I got the rights to all my books back from them?

In essence, they gave me back the rights to what I consider my retirement.

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