My Biggest Role Model Is...

Even as adults, many of us have people that we look to for inspiration; as an example for a way to live our lives.  If you reflect back upon your formative years as an artist, I'm sure you can rattle off half a dozen names that got your juices flowing; that made you want to do it. 

Those influences (in my case, Def Leppard, Rush, The Beatles & Crowded House) are extremely important, but I'm talking about the folks that inspire you right now. The people that are doing the things that you want to do, that are living in a way that you want to live. 

I'm going to list three names.  Oddly, none of them are musicians.  

Why are these three my biggest role models?  What do they have in common?
  • Consistency
    • All three of these writers blog just about everyday.  And it's not crap blogging either.  It's useful advice, written well and often highly entertaining.  
  • Generosity 
    • Go ahead and look at Leo's website.  Notice something?  It's completely clutter free and devoid of flashing "buy my book!" widgets.  All three writers give and give and give some more to their readers, without asking for much in return.  Do Leo, Seth and Chuck have books to sell you? Absolutely, but they aren't in your face about it.  When their new posts come up in my feed reader, I always read them.  Why?  Because I know that it's going to be useful and entertaining and not some bullshit, hack post trying to lure me to buy something.  And you know what? I've purchased books from all three of these guys.  Coincidence?
  • Quality
    • Even though they create a lot of material, they never post crap. Ever.
  • Community
    • Because they consistently release quality material that helps their audience, all three of these writers have helped to foster a community around their work.  Every time that Chuck publishes a new piece, a spirited discussion always breaks out in the comments.  As a reader, this adds to the value of every post that he writes.  

These are qualities that I'd like to infuse into my own work.  How about you?

Who are your current role models?

Let me know by responding in the comments below.  

Have a great week!
John Anealio  


  1. I have many writers I admire: Hugh Howey, of the "Wool" series, M.H. Van Keuren, who wrote "Rhubarb", and "Legitamacy", even John Anealio, who just writes songs and writes about writing, but I have only one role model, who is also my all time hero, really, and he's a scientist, not a writer. That would be Sir Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA .
    The writers are all creative, and write truly original stuff, and I admire them because there are are so many sequels, and re-pops in the arts today. "Star Trek" re-imagined, and soon "Star Wars" will be too. They say "this worked before, and put asses in the seats, so will change it a bit and do it again". Nobody's willing to take a chance with originality anymore.
    Sir Stephen is my hero for what should be obvious reasons. Handicapped from an early age, not even expected to live very long, he's had a career that anyone could point to with pride because of it's brilliance.

    1. Certainly can't go wrong with Hawking as a role model.

      In regards to reboots and sequels, I think artists, writers and directors would love to take a chance on original ideas, but the industry isn't.

      Thanks for sharing Tom!

  2. I'm not sure I have any. I don't see anyone doing the things I'm doing, going where I'm going.

    I often feel like I'm groping my way in the dark, but at the same time I feel like what I'm doing must be worthwhile for that very reason; that maybe I can inspire other people.

    1. Hopefully, we're all on our own path and not just copying someone else. To a certain extent, I think most of us are groping in the dark, trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.

      I think that if you are fortunate enough to come up with something that nobody else has, then you are almost certainly on the right track.

      Thanks Nobilis!

  3. As photography goes, I have always looked up to Melissa Farlow ( She impressed me when I heard her speak at a convention years ago. Her work for National Geographic is fantastic. Such a sense of place in her photos!

    Plus she went to Indiana University, and had the same professor I did. She had him early in his career. I took the last class he ever taught. But it's amazing to think I shared a mentor with someone I admire.

    Otherwise I have always found inspiration in Jim Henson and his amazing creativity.

    I think it's important to have role models. And to take a minute to think about who they are and why. They can be your personal North Star - sometimes even when you don't know it.

    Have you heard Ellis Paul's song "All my Heroes Were Junkies?" It matters who you look up to.

    1. That's great Matthew!

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      That's why I wrote this post, to think about people that inspire me to help me figure out where I'm headed.

      I'm familiar with Ellis Paul, but not that particular song. Seems relevant. I'll check it out!

  4. My current role models are Leonard Cohen, Marc Maron, and Rob Paulsen.

    Leonard Cohen has never, as far as I know, solicited anyone's opinion of him. He does one thing--live his music--and does it well. He is a man who is comfortable in his own skin, takes care of his own, puts on a great show, and loves his audience. And even though he's in his 80s, he still keeps doing it.

    Marc Maron understands his flaws, and constantly works to overcome them through personal growth. He developed a career as a brilliant comic, but also developed a reputation as an angry, antisocial drug addict. He came to terms with his addictions and has now been sober 13 years and counting, but he didn't stop there. He is working through his anger issues and through it all, has become even more entertaining and engaging, especially on his podcast, where he stands out as one of the best interviewers online.

    Rob Paulsen didn't start out as a voice actor; he started out on stage performing in musicals. However, as his career took him down the path of voice acting, he continued to hone his craft and his instrument, earning praise and awards along the way. Now, at the top of his game, he constantly gives back through charity, through passing on knowledge to others in the field and those who want to break in, and through continuing to entertain millions as one of the busiest talents in animation. He also is a family man, and has raised two children to adulthood with his wife of many years.

    It seems like my three role models have a lot in common with yours. They're consistent in who they are and in what they do; they're generous, whether it's in paying their staff or giving back to the world. They constantly strive for quality. And they each have developed a community around them.

    Great question!

    1. Thank you for the in-depth reply!

      All excellent examples. Maron is someone who seems to embody another quality that I've been seeing in artists that I admire, and that is the ability to be personal; to really open up his life and his feelings about things, good and bad to the world. It's something that I've been working on. I've always been concerned about offending or boring people if I shared too much, but I'm learning that that is what I like in the people that I admire. Perhaps it's a good idea for me to do the same and not worry about it.

  5. I read every blog post by author Hugh Howey. I'm no novelist, nor even a short story writer. I just see what authors are doing with self publishing and it is inspiring me to do the same with my little games.

    1. Cool. How are your games going?

    2. Coming along fairly well. And thanks for asking :)

      Squishy Bugs is seeing some action

      I also recently started developing a roguelike board game, currently code-named "Board Rogue". Sticking with Android development with the possibility of iOS releases in the future.

    3. Very cool. Good luck with everything Kyle!

  6. This was a more difficult question than I at first thought--there are many authors whose work helps me set (usually wildly unmet) standards and is thus technically inspiring, but inspiration that makes me stop procrastinating? That comes from a few members of my writer's group, who don't let having kids/having full-time jobs/self-doubt stop them from writing stuff I enjoy reading nor binders full of rejection letters stop them from continuing to submit.

    1. Thanks Chrissa!

      It's fantastic that you've found those people in your life to motivate you to do your work. Sometimes, that's all we need.

  7. I have to say it's only been recently (a bit over a year) that I realized how much content is out there on the internet by writers, both published and unpublished. Last year when I got serious about my writing, I found a ton of indie writers on Twitter. While I did find a few really interesting ones with great blogs, it was the ones who had a lot of followers, but still stayed true to who they were.

    My biggest inspiration at this time is Lindsay Buroker, creator of the Emperor's Edge series. She is an indie author who has gone from nothing to a full time writer in such a short period of time! Even now she is very interactive with her fans and I've had the pleasure of getting to know her. She is what I aspire to be as a writer.

    Second is Patrick Rothfuss for a few reasons. The main one is that he had a passion for writing and never quite understood why he was never satisfied doing anything else. This is similar to me.

    Third is Mur Lafferty, who I know you know pretty well. Her podcast has been a huge help to me over the last year, so much so that at one point I went back and listened to almost her entire backlog. ISBW is an inspiration to all "wanna be fiction writers", and I am very much included in that.

    Thanks for sharing your biggest role models, John!

    1. You're welcome Jeremy and thank you for sharing yours!

      I'm a big Rothfuss fan myself. I don't know much about him personally, but I love both of his books. Very long, but very worth the read.

      And Mur's a pal. I think she has such a dedicated group of followers because she tells the truth. She shares how she feels, both the highs and lows and lots of us can relate to that.