You might look at the title of this blog post and ask what courage has to do with writing. My answer is everything.
Before you write, it’s a good idea to assess if you can summon the courage to write authentically and the courage to send your writing out into the world for others to read.
In order to write, there is no rule that you must even show your work to anyone. Many people write just for their own pleasure. However, if you want to write for publication, you may be surprised that you’ll need to summon considerable courage when showing your writing to others.
It’s healthy to be a bit of a coward when presenting your work to editors and agents. I remember the first rejection slip I received. I was so sure that my manuscript would be snapped up by the first editor who read it… then it would rise quickly to the best seller list while the Hollywood types engaged in a heated bidding war for the movie rights.
Guess what? None of that happened. Instead, I received a post card rejection letter before I even received the postal verification that they received the manuscript.
If I thought I needed courage to send out that first manuscript, I needed double that amount to send it out again… and again… and again.
Here are some of the reasons you need courage…
1. If you want to publish, you’ll receive rejection letters. You’ll get used to them, but you’ll never like them. You need courage to face them and move on.
2. It’s challenging to write authentically. By authentically, I mean to write the way you really want to write and to have your story really speak to the reader. It’s easy enough to round off the corners of your story and make your heroes into saints and your villains wretched through and through. It takes courage and a good deal of practice to make your heroes and villains into real people, who possess a little good and a little bad. And it takes real courage to let them flounder rather than giving them the easy answers to their dilemmas.
3. It takes courage to write the story and develop it so you give it enough depth to give the reader the story he/she deserves. It’s the tendency to end it all happily and to tie up all the loose ends, but life is not that way. Leave them hanging some of the time. Some readers will criticize but most will recognize real life.
4. You need courage to join writing groups and critiques groups. Both groups will help you develop your writing skills, but you need to let people in those groups read your work. And you need the courage to listen to their critiques and objectively change what needs to be changed.
There are many small ways you need courage in your writing, but you’ll discover and conquer those as you go along. Just be aware, before you write, that challenges to your courage will come and you will live through them.
For what it’s worth, be comforted by the fact that no matter how experienced you are, all writers face issues of flagging courage. You are not alone.