Dig Up Your Own Dirt

In interviews, journalists frequently ask me why I chose to work with this celebrity or that musician. The fact is that I’ve received scores more offers to ghost-write books than I’ve accepted. Many of these offers have been from artists and celebrities I greatly admired. And my decision to work with someone has usually come down to one question:

Are they willing to get in the dirt?

Go to the memoir or biography section of any bookstore. Pick up the latest celebrity text. And within a few pages, you’ll be able to tell which celebrities were telling the whole story and which just wanted to rehash fawning press releases.

The deal is that if you are going to write your memoir, then you must be willing to tell the truth. And to do so, you must not be afraid to share things that may make you look bad, cause others to judge you, or even harm relationships you have. Secrets you’ve never told your family or your best friend must be divulged – especially if they are part of what makes you tick – otherwise you’re not being fair to the reader. And a reader can almost always tell when a writer is holding something back.

I remember, when writing Jenna Jameson’s book, she told me things she’d never told anyone before – each of which required many cigarette breaks for her. After some of these stories, she’d go to bed shaken, and wake up in the morning full of doubts about whether they should be shared or not.

But they had to be shared. The bricks that create each of us are not all made of gold. Some are shit. And we’re a combination of both.

But this is not a bad thing, because it’s the shit that makes us unique. To quote one of the most famous first lines in literature: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

When I wrote Motley Crue’s autobiography, we decided that if we were going to call the book The Dirt, then we were going to have to deliver the dirt. I didn’t realize how much bravery it took from artists like Jenna and the Crue until it came time to write my own book. So while writing The Game, I found myself constantly reminding myself of the words about avoiding self-censorship and not fearing judgment that I’d told Motley Crue and Jenna Jameson. And the end result was a much, much more challenging and fulfilling experience for me and a better book to top it off.

Now, you may not be planning on penning your own memoir anytime soon. After all, Casanova reportedly started writing his memoir in his mid to late sixties. So you probably have some time yet. But even if you’re not a writer, being unafraid to dig up your own dirt will absolutely make your self-improvement journey and transformation more fulfilling.

Take notes of the areas of your life you want to improve. Objectively evaluate yourself. What are your weaknesses? What were your most embarrassing moments? Do not censor yourself or sugar-coat the stories. Relate them in all their ignoble, humiliating glory.

And then set out to improve those areas.

As you progress through your Stylelife studies, don’t lose that determination to avoid self-censorship. You may be afraid to try a new opener in front of your friends. Or, you might be embarrassed to do some of the missions that use Cosmopolitan magazines for conversation topics. If you give into these fears and restrain yourself, you will not get the full experience. Just like I would not have gotten the full experience of The Game if I had held back in an effort to make myself look better. Do not be afraid of looking foolish. Do not be afraid of temporary setbacks.

And here’s one final tip. I mentioned earlier how a reader would always know when a writer is holding back. Your friends, colleagues, and the women you want in your life will also be able to tell. Real people aren’t perfect. When you try to hide or cover up your imperfections, you come across as a cold, insensitive, android that no one wants to be around.

Writer and mythology expert Joseph Campbell wrote that, “Sometimes life is horrific. Sometimes terrible things take place. Are you going to say yay to life? The artist has to say yay…and where he says nay is where he has lost his humanity.”

So work to improve your perfections. But don’t hide them and don’t ignore them. Dig in your own dirt to sow the seeds for an exciting and fulfilling journey of self-improvement.

See You Online,

Neil Strauss

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