"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Monday, January 2, 2017

Writer's Courage! How to Cultivate More in 2017

“Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
---Ernest Hemingway

Welcome, Readers!
Thanks so much for your continued support and readership, as we embark upon a new year full of promise and unlimited possibilities. I'm delighted to have you here. Whether you're an old fan or a new friend here, I value your time, feedback and interaction. It's a pleasure to connect with you and share my love of the written word and my desire to help you "learn more and earn more," at Pen & Prosper.

If you're on board, let's get busy with today's post. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. It helps us all to learn and grow. In the words of Clint Eastwood: "Go ahead and make my day." :-)


When most folks think about “bravery,” they typically associate it with careers like firefighters, police, or professionals that sacrifice their well-being through heroic efforts and life-saving rescue.
Which is true by standard definition. But those of us who carve a living from words know all too well how courageous this way of life is too. It’s not for the feint of heart.

In fact, truth be told, I never envisioned myself as a writer growing up.

Though I have always loved the act of writing creatively, I only pursued it professionally because my mom “guilted” me into it. I was afraid.
More on that story at another day and time…



Writing makes us vulnerable. Sharing our thoughts, experiences, family dysfunctions, inner-demons, mistakes, and neuroses leaves us as “exposed” as a hospital examination gown.

Writers must withstand judgment, criticism, controversy, rejection, and even “haters“.
And yet, we enter the proverbial “ring” each day and find the courage to battle doubt, slay personal fears, defeat procrastination and move forward.

Not to mention that many of us are introverts and have to contend with the awkwardness of sharing a certain “intimacy” and honesty in expressing ourselves in public arenas; if we are to make a real impact with readers.


A few weeks ago, I received my first book review (which is how this issue with courage initially manifested). When the email arrived in my inbox, I was afraid to open it. I was so nervous, I felt the need for a cigarette. And I don’t even smoke.

After reading it, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel; the review was both positive and negative. Would I submit to one again? Probably. And here’s why: as uncomfortable as it was to open myself and my work up to scrutiny, the review was helpful and insightful. No matter what the reviewer felt or thought, my ebook was STILL a career accomplishment. Good or bad, it represented a finished, marketable product and another “chapter” in my writing journey.


Writers, let’s face it: you’ll never receive a “Purple Badge of Honor” for your efforts, courage and resilience. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feel empowered and proud, just the same. In fact, we don’t have to look to characters in the novels that we read to be inspired or to embrace it.

Celebrate the courage you show each time you:

  • Write and publish a blog post
  • Continue to blog without consistent comments from readers
  •  Survive a negative book review
  • Submit to a publisher who has rejected your work previously
  • Seek agent representation
  • Take a new class to develop your skills
  • Send out a pitch letter
  • Refuse to allow writer's block to put you in a state of panic
Courage is as necessary an ingredient to a writer’s career survival as food is to a chef.
Without it, there’s no growth, progress or gain.

So, if you’re good to go, here’s how to cultivate more of it in 2017:
Come out of your comfort zone. If you have always wanted to write a children’s book, or a memoir, or dabble in a different genre, go for it! Research. Read successful authors in your targeted category. Set goals. Make a game plan. As they say, “There’s no time like the present.”

Have the chutzpah to define success on your own terms.

Like Ralph Waldo Emerson did. It’s not always about bottom line figures or social media numbers; success can be about honoring your own personal truths, or overcoming obstacles.

Connect with other scribes by leaving comments on blogs you read, or via social media platforms you engage with weekly.

Don't be afraid of grammatical errors, language barriers, or being potentially embarrassed by mistakes.
We're not here to judge; we're not your English teacher.

Read. Explore. Print. Embrace.

The following quotes on courage:

Take more calculated risks.

If you're writing part-time, for instance, determine what it would take to go full-time.
Apply for gigs you would not have in the past. Make this your year to take your efforts to the next level and advance your swagger!

Do you!
In other words, be yourself. Don't try to follow every fad, "expert" recommendation, or path navigated by other bloggers. Instead, learn from the best; but don't ignore your own inner-guidance, individual style, or personal goals.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
---Walt Disney

Happy New Year!

Your turn.
Be fearless. Leave a comment. :-)

         Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Yes. In the end, it all comes down to courage, doesn't it. Without that no amount of talent is going to get that book written and out into the world. Thanks for the great post to kick off the new year.

  2. I am presently clearing out some OLD things I feel I no longer need so I can make my office area more pleasing to the eye and easier to navigate. I find that also takes courage. I intend to get back to work on my meditation collection and start looking for some help with it. I appreciate this blog as it usually gives me a shot in the arm, so to speak.

  3. I love this: "Define success on your own terms." There are so many great points in this motivational post, a New Year's booster shot of positivity. thank you!

  4. Celeste,
    How lovely to hear. I appreciate you, too! :-)

  5. Lin,
    I value your feedback and support. Much thanks!

  6. Planning on advancing that "swagger" in 2017, so I appreciate your encouragement. :) So you didn't envision yourself growing up to be a writer? Who knew! lol Although I enjoyed writing, I didn't consider it either. And so, here we are. So glad us "non-writers" had the privilege of meeting. Happy New Year to you too!

  7. Wow, Jennifer, this is an awesome post. I never thought of myself as brave, but maybe now I will. I'd certainly like to grab some couraaage! from the Wizard. Thanks for being such a great cheerleader and excellent writer. Happy New Year and success to all.

  8. So true. What a blessing, thanks Karen :-)

  9. I like the idea of defining success on my own terms. I wasn't feeling very empowered and proud because I still haven't seen many people commenting on my blogs and webstores.

    However to my surpsise I discovered that from the unique visitors to my blogs and stores, most of them - do - become return visitors. We slowly begin to see some followers on Pinterest and our Twitter page!

    It's not easy to start up blogs and webstores. Every progress, no matter how small, gives courage and a proud feeling.

  10. Hi, H.P.
    Thanks so much for sharing here. :-)

  11. This just in from Maribel from Australia:
    Hi Jen, Happy New Year to you too!
    I want to congratulate you on publishing your eBook – no matter the reviews, because like you say, we need to celebrate our writer’s accomplishments that keep us taking those little steps on the journey of becoming a better writer. If we didn’t have the courage to put our work out there, we wouldn’t grow!
    When I read my first self-published book these days, I cringe a little as I can now see how I could have improved the prose – but, it was the best I was writing back in 2012.
    I can now celebrate the fact that I see my errors which means I must have progressed on my writer’s journey – yay!
    So...here's to all the writing we will do in 2017 and post with courage and tenacity of spirit.

  12. Maribel's comment continued..."and with love for the written word...thanks for sharing your insights, as always."...Maribel xx

  13. Maribel
    It is always so lovely to hear from you across the miles. I value you.