Why I Wrote a Book About Inspiration
An interview with The Good Men Project on the origins of 2-Minute Pep Talks
On September 22nd, 2022, I published a book called 2-Minute Pep Talks. It’s a book about inspiration that comes from inner peace more so than from external motivators. But why this book? And why now? I sat down with The Good Men Project to answer these and some other questions. If you’re curious about the backstory of the book and inspiration in general, enjoy!
“Tell us a little bit about yourself.”
My name is Niklas Göke, but in the world of words, everyone just calls me Nik. I was born and raised in Germany, and halfway through college, well on the way to becoming a corporate consultant, I discovered the magic of blogs. “I want to get paid to write whatever I want too!” I thought, and in 2014, I finally set off on that journey, first with my own blog, then on platforms like Medium and Quora, and finally also through Four Minute Books, a collection of now over 1,000 book summaries.
Of course, “getting paid to write whatever I want” was a pipe dream — at least initially. I barely got by for the first two years, taking any and every gig I could find, including ghostwriting, which I hated. I learned that nowadays, writing needs to be packaged well in order to sell, and that there was more than one way to make a living from words.
Since then, I’ve been inching ever closer to not compromising my artistic freedom, and when I finally got into book publishing in late 2020, I felt right at home. Books are the one area of writing where it still feels like sharing your most authentic creative truth is the only thing that does work in the long run, and though it may take a while, I’m now happily swinging for the fences with each next title.
“What was your inspiration for writing this book?”
To be honest, it’s the book I felt I could use myself right now. I reflected on current world events — the war in Europe, the pandemic, struggling economies with soaring prices — and thought if I could use a pick-me-up, maybe other people could too. I looked back over my 1,000 or so published pieces, and I realized that I wrote almost all of them in the spirit of providing the reader with some form of emotional peace. Hope, love, comfort — these are the words that came to mind, and so I set out to compile, edit, and rewrite my best short messages carrying little vials of these emotions.
“What do you hope your readers will get from reading this book?”
Inner peace, first and foremost. I want this to be a book you can pick up every morning, every night before bed, or whenever you feel down, flick to a random page, read for two minutes, and remember that everything is going to be okay. If it ends up becoming a daily habit to make you feel light, optimistic, and positive as you start your day, that’s even better. But if the emotional burden of even one hard day is lifted slightly, I’ll feel that this project was well worth completing.
“Did anyone ever give you a pep talk that inspired you to change your life or direction?”
All the time! From my parents to extended family and early mentors, many have given speeches short and long that stuck with me.
Nowadays, however, I feel like most “pep talks” I receive are not spoken at me but to me — and to do so, they need not be words at all. I might get inspired seeing a teacher imbibe a wise lesson on her students, a superhero picking themselves up after falling down, or a long dead philosopher reminding me of something he learned 2,000 years ago. These are the kinds of moments I turned into little stories for 2-Minute Pep Talks, and I hope the inspiration will rub off on readers — even when it’s not delivered like a typical, rah-rah speech to a sales department.
“Do your readers ever reach out to you to tell you about how something you wrote inspired them to make a life change?”
Sometimes! Although it has happened on occasion that someone said my work helped them make a big life decision, like quitting their job or taking their art seriously, it is usually the one-line comments that make my day. “I needed this today.” “Your post made me stop and reflect.” Recently, someone said that “not everything one feels can be put into words, but somehow you did it.” Those comments are truly heartwarming.
Writing can be a lonely battle, so if you enjoy someone’s work, tell them! Your “I needed this today” may be the writer’s “I needed this today.” A little encouragement can go a long way.
“What is the most rewarding aspect of your work right now?”
Besides the occasional, delighted reader reaction and the fact that I get to write every day, working on my own schedule, I would say the most rewarding aspect of writing is the feeling of solidarity. This may sound funny, because if there ever was a single-player game in life, it’s probably writing. But I feel a great sense of companionship with the characters in my stories. Sometimes they are real people. Sometimes they are made up. And sometimes, they’re not people at all. But when I write about Charles Steinmetz, Glennon Doyle, or Harry Potter, I stand shoulder to shoulder with them. I can sense their struggle, and imagining what they went through makes me feel less alone. Of course, that same solidarity then extends to my readers. They too are not alone, and I hope they get that feeling when they read my work.
If you’re curious what “writer’s solidarity” feels like and want to know more about the characters and stories Nik mentioned, grab a copy of his new book, 2-Minute Pep Talks.
Pep talks are vitamins for your spirit: You don’t have to take them every day, but if you don’t take them at all, eventually, your soul will feel their absence. With 67 daily messages full of hope, love, and comfort, 2-Minute Pep Talks will make sure you maintain your inner balance. Whether you’re looking for a pick-me-up, new perspectives, or more fuel to accomplish your dreams — if you’re ready to regain that light, optimistic feeling we all used to have as kids, this book is for you.
This interview first appeared on The Good Men Project.