In defense of books

Lately, I’ve become more and more aware in my own life (and in the stories of my friends) with how our Netflix watching has — let’s be honest — gotten a little out of control.

I’m probably as guilty as the next person. (Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Scandal, Marco Polo, Longmire, Frontier, the list goes on…)

But one thing I’ve been noticing is that with the advent of streaming video services such as Netflix, we can feed our escapism desires to an unlimited degree. No longer do we have to wait a week for the next episode to release, as it once did with TV. No, now we can watch episode-after-episode until our heart’s content.

As a matter of act, I met a person this past month who (apparently) literally works and watches Netflix. He’s not married, in fact has never married, and he has no kids. He’s crossing the age of forty and in asking him several questions, he made clear to me that he has no hobbies or things he enjoys doing other than watching Netflix.

In fact, he told me he’d stayed up to two a.m. the night prior and added that when he’s not binge-watching a series, he’s catching up on his sleep because he’s irresponsibly stayed up too late, he relayed with a laugh.

I mean, I kind of get it. And I’m not trying to be judgy here, but there seriously has to be more to life than that.

And while I get we watch to often escape and get through life, while mentally preparing for another day at work that most of us don’t enjoy, for pay most of us need more of, I fear we’re digging holes for ourselves.

As such, I’d like to propose a possible solution beyond simply being more disciplined on how much we watch. My solution is a little old-fashioned or maybe hip? (Old is in, right?)

Yes, dear friend, I’m talking about reading more. We all know that reading has scientific benefits, such as improving vocabulary, sharpening your mind, reducing stress, and preventing cognitive decline in patients with dementia.

But it also gives you more time off and away from work. What I mean is that at least for me and most of my friends, you simply don’t read for as long of periods as you might binge-watch Netflix.

Time slows down when you read and your weekend is extended. No more three-hour sit fests in front of the screen; instead, I’m betting you’ll find yourself reading for a much shorter period, though it’ll feel longer than it actually is.

Often, I’ve gotten engrossed in a book and stopped reading, thinking, “Man, I’ve probably been reading for like two hours.” And almost always, only thirty or forty minutes have passed.

Plus, since it’s difficult to read for as long as you watch Netflix, it’s been my experience that you’ll find yourself doing more chores, dragging yourself out to exercise, etc.

And it’s these activities that lead to a higher over-all happiness.

As Sifu Shi Yan Ming says, “We always want things because we think they will make us happier, but they are just distractions and momentary fixes. True happiness comes from polishing your life. A life of action, not distraction.”

Bottom line, in my very biased opinion, I think books can provide us a better option to consume and enjoy some limited distraction in our modern-day lives.

We only have a very limited amount of time that we’re not stuck at work or at some required event we must go to. We need to maximize and use that time as best we can.

As Ming says, “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness, rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell


Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series was also picked up by for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thrillerdetective series, and World War II story. Learn more at

Don’t ever lose the magic

I came across a remarkable video on facebook on Sunday.

The video is of an undiscovered, working man, singing a song he wrote. He’s wearing his work clothes and appears to be in a breakroom. He’s got a uniform on, complete with safety classes and nametag, and he’s clearly a little embarrassed at being filmed for presumably the first time.

His friend has likely put him up to recording the video and this same friend records him on a phone. It’s not professional. It’s not planned out. It shouldn’t be worth even noting.

And yet it’s remarkable. It’s intoxicating. It’s hypnotizing.

I probably watched it a dozen times before I decided to write the blogpost. The man’s voice, the love that pours out of every inch of him; it’s just magical.

Here’s the video, since I’ve talked about it enough. Watch it and then please continue reading, because I think I have something worth saying. (Or maybe I’m just another blowhard author who writes too many words in his emails and blogposts; there’s certainly a possibility of this!)

Pretty remarkable video, huh? The song is beautiful and his voice is studio quality, without question.

And don’t let the page views fool you. This video is rapidly approaching seven million views on Facebook.

Now, to the points I wanted to make.

First, I’m a little envious of the guy. He reminds me of me five years ago, back before I published my first book. Back then, writing was magical. It was something I felt compelled to do. Heck, I didn’t even really feel it was of my own doing. It was, shall I say, divine? A gift? Something I was called to do?

I still remember how excited I was. I told friends and family and anyone who’d listen that I was writing a book! Not just a book, but a full-length novel! One I’d been working on for twelve years!

Yes, twelve years! And this wasn’t even my first novel. I’d already paid my dues and co-written one with a buddy fifteen years earlier while in college, which had been rejected by publishers. And like all writers, even before my first book Sold Out hit the market, I’d started probably thirty different “books,” all of which sputtered out somewhere between page twenty and page one hundred.

Back then, as I creeped closer and closer to releasing Sold Out, I was yelling and bouncing around like a fool, as excited as a ten-year-old boy waiting on a new bike at Christmas.

I was breathless. I was going to accomplish something big. I was going to make millions.

I’m not even sure the guy above is at that stage yet. He’s even before that. He’s at that stage where some friends or family members are begging him to use his talent and release some music.

Sometimes, it can take years of this before you have the courage to finally be recorded (or in my case, begin submitting your book for publication, knowing you’re going to be on the receiving end of quite a few rejection letters, all of which are frankly devastating).

So, like I said, I’m a little envious of the guy. He’s just doing what he loves, what he was meant to do, and it’s incredible to see.

The second point I wanted to make is we all need to be that friend who recorded this video. If you know someone like him, encourage them. Ask about their latest work. Push them and make them uncomfortable, whether they’re an artist, a singer, a writer, a woodworker, a mechanic who dreams of owning their own shop, whatever.

Maybe you don’t have a gift. Or maybe your gift is still working its way to the surface. Or to your soul. I like to think we all have gifts, but if you haven’t realized yours yet, you can still help that friend or family member around you realize his or hers.

It’s so scary in the beginning and you need someone to believe in you. Trust me, you really do.

So if you know someone in the same place as this guy in the video, do your thing. Be that person they name when they’re on stage twenty years from now, receiving a reward for their work.

My final point is I think there are a lot of artists and business owners, such as myself, who took that plunge and rode the wave this guy will soon ride, but they’ve become burned out.

It’s exhilarating in the beginning. There’s such beautiful and wondrous joy at the start of your journey.

But you soon start hitting resistance. In the writing world, you’re told to not write just anything, but write something that fits in a specific genre and can be marketed better. In this guy’s case, he’ll probably soon be told there’s not much of a market for Christian rap. Either become a typical rapper or move into another form of music, such as country or rock.

In my case, I learned that readers really love series. So I devoted myself to writing three more books with my character Nick Woods in them.

I also found myself changing him. Instead of having Nick Woods the way I wanted him, I felt compelled to make him nicer and more watered down, so that his tough military edge wouldn’t be so repelling to many readers who had no idea how jarring many combat vets can be in real life.

I also soon started to doubt myself. With well over a thousand reviews and ratings on Amazon, Audible, Goodreads, and other outlets, I soon started to doubt my craft and see its shortcomings.

This can cause a new artist or business owner to stumble. (Ever heard of Yelp? Yikes.)

Not everyone is going to be nice and often hearing the truth can completely extinguish the gift you thought you had.

So, too, can crushing stress and exhausting workloads. That is also what happens to many new artists and business owners. They’re touring or writing or working almost 24/7 in their new shop and their joy for the work just burns out.

My love (writing) became a job after my books exploded. I quickly became a full-time writer and threw myself into it, but along the way, my love (writing) became work and something I had to do.

That’s why I had to go back to work after two years of being a full-time writer. I needed to not have to write a certain book or series within a certain amount of time. I needed writing to be my love again, not my job.

I need to sit down at the computer with the love you see on that man’s face above. That’s why I’m so fortunate to have a great day job that allows me to come home and write what I want to write at night.

Now, a few miles farther down the road than the guy above, I’m still trying to cultivate my dream. I’m still trying to stay true to my soul and write what I want to write, even if the market for such a thing isn’t what it could be.

I’ll be talking more about the book I’m nearly done with in the future, but for now, I wanted to say that if you’re in that burned out state I described, don’t give up. Don’t lose that hope you once had.

Forget all the pressures and deadlines and stress and just be the best at whatever it is you were born to do. Don’t listen too much to those who are pushing you one way or the other and stay true to your soul. But more than anything else, don’t ever lose the magic.

Keep dreaming. Keep fighting.

Stan R. Mitchell


You can find my books here: If you’re prior military, start with “Sold Out.” Enjoy mysteries? Check out “Take Down.”

Some outstanding motivation and wisdom worth reading on a regular basis

Hey, guys!

Thought I’d share something that might strike a cord with some of you.

This comes from the book “The Greatest Salesman in the World.” I personally try to read it about once a week or so, and while it’s about sales, you can replace the word “sales” with whatever you do (i.e. woodworking, painting, repairing, writing, etc.).

No matter what it is, if you can put love in your heart toward the work and customers/clients you are serving, you’re going to land higher and achieve more. Here’s the speech, which I’ve edited down and condensed (bold emphasis is my own):

  • Only principles endure, and good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law is I will form good habits and become their slave.
  • As I read these principles each day, I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed possible to be in a world full of strife and sorrow.
  • Soon, these actions and reactions will become easy to perform, for any act with practice becomes easy.
  • And when an act becomes easy through constant repetition, it becomes a pleasure to perform and if it is a pleasure to perform it is a man’s nature to perform it often.
  • Today, my old skin has become as dust. I will walk tall among men and they will know me not, for today I am a new man, with a new life.
  • When I am making sales, I will make love my greatest weapon, and none on whom I call can defend against its force. My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject; and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts just as the sun’s rays soften the coldest clay.
  • I will greet this day with love in my heart.
  • And how will I do this? Henceforth I will look on all things with love and I will be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
  • And how will I speak? I will laud mine enemies and they will become friends; I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers. Always I will dig for reasons to applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip.
  • How will I react to others? With love. For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger.
  • And how will I confront each person that I meet? In only one way. In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkle my brow, bring a smile to my lips, and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods when his heart feels my love?
  • I will cherish my body with cleanliness and moderation.
  • Never will I allow my heart to become small and bitter, rather I will share it and it will grow and warm the earth.
  • I will persist until I succeed.
  • With love I will increase my sales a hundredfold and become a great salesman. If I have no other qualities, I will succeed with love alone. Without it, I will fail though I possess all the knowledge and skills of the world.
  • I will greet this day with love and I will succeed.
  • I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny.
  • The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning.
  • Always, I will take another step. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.
  • Henceforth, I will consider each day’s effort as but one blow of my blade against a mighty oak. The first blow may cause not a tremor in the wood, nor the second, nor the third. Each blow, of itself, may be trifling, and seem of no consequence. Yet from childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it will be with my efforts of today.
  • I will build my castle one brick at a time for I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.
  • I will never consider defeat and I will remove from my vocabulary such words and phrases as quit, cannot, unable, impossible, out of the question, improbable, failure, unworkable, hopeless, and retreat; for they are the words of fools. I will avoid despair but if this disease of the mind should infect me, then I will work on despair. I will toil and I will endure.
  • I must fail often to succeed only once.
  • I will try, and try, and try again.
  • When each day is ended, not regarding whether it has been a success or failure, I will attempt to achieve one more sale.
  • I am nature’s greatest miracle. A hundredfold or more can I increase my accomplishments of yesterday and this I will do, beginning today.
  • I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.
  • I will practice, and improve, and polish the words I utter to sell my goods, for this is the foundation on which I will build my career and never will I forget that many have attained great wealth and success with only one sales talk, delivered with excellence. Also, I will seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.
  • I will live this day as if it is my last. Yesterday is buried forever and I will think of it no more. Neither will I think of tomorrow. Why should I throw now after maybe? And why should I torment myself with problems that may never come to pass?
  • Each hour of this day will I cherish for it can never return. Each minute of this day will I grasp with both hands and cherish with love for its value is beyond price. What dying man can purchase another breath? What price dare I place on the hours ahead? I will make them priceless!
  • I will avoid with fury the killers of time. Procrastination I will destroy with action; doubt I will bury under faith; fear I will dismember with confidence.
  • Where there are idle hands, I will linger not; where there are idle bodies, I will visit not. From here on out, I know that to court idleness is to steal food, clothing, and warmth from those I love. I am not a thief. I am a man of love and today is my last chance to prove my love and my greatness.
  • Today I shall embrace my woman with sweet kisses; Today I shall lift up a friend in need; Today I shall make the best day of my life. I will drink every minute to its full. I will savor its taste and give thanks. I will make every hour count and each minute I will trade for something of value. I will labor harder than ever before and push my muscles until they cry for relief, and then I will continue. I will make more calls than ever before. I will sell more goods than ever before. I will earn more money than ever before. Each minute of today will be more fruitful than hours of yesterday. My last must be my best. I will live this day as if it is my last, for it is my last.
  • I make my own weather. If I bring rain and gloom and darkness to my customers, then they will react with rain and gloom and darkness.
  • Ignore your thoughts. Each day you awaken, before sadness, self-pity, or failure captures me, I will follow this plan of action:
    — If I feel depressed, I will sing.
    — If I feel sad, I will laugh.
    — If I feel ill, I will double my labor.
    — If I feel fear, I will plunge ahead.
    — If I feel inferior, I will wear new garments.
    — If I feel uncertain, I will think of wealth to come.
    — If I feel poverty, I will think of wealth to come.
    — If I feel incompetent, I will remember past success.
    — If I feel insignificant, I will remember my goals.
    — Today I will master my emotions.
  • Despair and sadness are easy to recognize, but these dangers approach without you noticing:
    – If I feel overconfident, I will recall my failures.
    – If I overindulge, I will think of past hungers.
    – If I feel complacency, I will remember my competition.
    – If I enjoy moments of greatness, I will remember moments of shame.
    – If I feel all powerful, I will try to stop the wind.
    – If I attain great wealth, I will remember one unfed mouth.
    – If I become overly proud, I will remember a moment of weakness.
    – If I feel my skill is unmatched, I will look at the stars.
  • No longer will I judge a man on one meeting; no longer will I fail to call again tomorrow on he who meets me with hate today.
  • I will laugh and my life will be lengthened, for this is the great secret of long life and now it is mine. I will laugh at my failures and they will vanish in clouds of new dreams.
  • Each day will be successful only when my smiles bring forth smiles from others and this I do in selfishness, for those on whom I frown are those who purchase not my goods.
  • Only with laughter and happiness can I truly become a success.
  • I have a choice. I will not let my life be fed to swine nor will I let it be ground under the rocks of failure and despair, only to be broken open and devoured by the will of others. Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. And how will I accomplish this?
    — Today, I will set goals for the day, the week, the month, the year, and for my entire life.
    — Today, I will surpass every action I performed yesterday.
    — Today, I will do the work that a failure will not do.
    — Today, I will not be content with my performance in the market.
    — Today, I will strive to make the next hour better than this one.
    — Yet, never will I proclaim my own accomplishments. Let the world, instead, approach me with praise and may I have the wisdom to receive it in humility.
  • I will act now.
  • I will act now.
  • I will act now.
  • Only action determines my value in the marketplace and to multiply my value I must multiply my actions.
  • Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the weak become strong. I am not weak. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure.
  • I hunger for success. I thirst for happiness and peace of mind. Lest I act, I will perish in a life of failure, misery, and sleepless nights.

Hope you guys got half as much from that as me! I’d suggest reading it on a regular basis and modifying it to suit your own industry or trade, so that you can read it as if it’s a daily or weekly mantra. (Maybe Monday before commuting to your job or Sunday night as you’re dreading going back to work?)

Here’s the link to the book again in case you’re interested in it: “The Greatest Salesman in the World.”

Keep pushing,

Stan R. Mitchell

P.S. Enjoy my writing or videos?! You can leave me a tip at this PayPal link. : )


Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which has remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series has also been picked up by for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thriller, detective series, and World War II story. Learn more at