Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Courage to Write

Another favorite book on writing is The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes. I particularly like the following paragraph(s), which I've divided in two although the author didn't.

"The longer I wrote, the more my admiration has grown for those who set out on this journey. They are apprehensive and should be. Writing is a daring act. Any time we put so much as a word on paper we're in jeopardy. (What if someone thinks we could have chosen a better one?)

"Whoever writes for public scrutiny is subject to a form of what psychologists call 'performance anxiety.' Polls routinely confirm that public speaking is our number-one fear. (Dying ranks sixth according to one such poll.) Writing is merely public speaking on paper, but to a much larger audience. For some, writing to publish is even more daunting than speaking in public. Spoken words blow away in the wind. Published ones last as long as the paper on which they're printed."

And Mr. Keyes quotes some other writers in his book, as well.

"If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage."
~Cynthia Ozick

"Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts."

"Anxiety is the essential condition of intellectual and artistic creation and everything that is finest in human history."
~Charles Frankel

Any thoughts?


Tamara (TC) said...

I am enjoying your posts about writing. Funny, I had let everyone know that I was going to work on my novel full time. Then, I immediately went into about 4 days of not being able to function. I thought I was getting sick, I was exhausted, not sleeping and definitely not writing. I realized yesterday that I was letting my fear of what others would think of my writing freeze me up.

I think I am back on track now although I am sure I will be facing this fear periodically. Writing (even fiction) is really opening up your soul for others to get a good hard look!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
I think that working on any creative project can be fearful. It's like, "If I commit to it and it's not good or successful or whatever we're hoping to achieve by writing it, then am I wasting my time? My life?"

But, for me, writing a book and having it published truly is a peak life experience!


Tamara (TC) said...

Yes. Am I wasting my time? My Life? And, am I kidding myself that I have something to say? But, at some point, you just have to go for it and give it your all! I can only imagine how it must feel to see your name on the cover of a book. Maybe I will know that feeling some day.

Wellness Writer said...

Ultimately, the issue is: "Do you really want to be published?" Because, you know you have something to say. And you know you're a good enough writer.'s really, "Will I finish this project and stand behind it until I sell it or self-publish it?"

It's as simple and as complex as that! At least, that's how I felt about it.


John FW said...

Hi, Susan -

I so appreciate all these interesting books you find. Getting beyond fear of writing was a long time coming for me. Fear, creativity and aggression got all jumbled up, and it was impossible to reach very far inside to get something real to write. I'll find this book as soon as I can.

Thank you!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear John,
It's always interesting to learn that the most talented writers sometimes have to work hard to overcome their fear. Thanks for sharing! I'm glad you like this series.


Tamara (TC) said...

Thank you for the gentle kick in the butt! ;-) I really do want to finish a novel and see what I can do with it as far as publishing. I am finally in a rhythm where I am spending my days writing and it feels wonderful!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
Good for you! When I wrote my books, I spent all day writing as well. And I used to say to my husband, "If I had a million dollars and never had to work again, this is exactly the way I'd want to spend my days."

Feel free to touch base about your progress--either online or offline.