The Courage to Write

I took along a whole lot of books during winter break, and started with The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes. I ended up reading it cover-to-cover during my flight, as I was completely engrossed.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned overcoming fear in order to write. I found the book extremely helpful, and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a guide on how to surmount these fears.

The biggest lesson for me was simply the realization that the fear will probably never go away. The book has lots and lots of examples of famous writers, who all seem to deal with the fear in their own way as a necessary part of the writing process.

Just knowing that I wasn’t the only one scared by a blank page was a huge help. And clearly I’ve so far always managed to successfully wrestle with my fear and turn in all my articles on deadline. (The book mentions the extreme of writers who are so paralyzed by fear that they never write, or never submit anything for publication.)

But I guess somewhere deep inside I had this notion that if only I was better at writing, or reporting, the fear would go away once and for all…

I thought it would go away after I had some experience being edited, but it was still there.
Maybe the first time I was published? Nope, it returned the moment I started working on my next article. Maybe if I joined a writing program, I’d have enough confidence to force it back into the shadows permanently? Not really.

But treating the fear as just another part of the writing process, something to be aware of and deal with, has actually helped a lot. It’s still there, of course, but now it’s at worst an annoyance, and depending on the article, not even that.

The book has lots of examples and concrete advice on the different kinds of fear and the various responses to it, do check it out if you’ve ever let fear affect your writing.

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