15 Ways to Strengthen Writer Courage

Today’s guest post is by best-selling author DiAnn Mills.

While talent and a willingness to work hard are essential for a professional writer, the #1 requirement is courage to face the world of publishing.

The word courage can be confusing. A soldier enlists courage by saving fellow soldiers’ lives. A teacher possesses courage when choosing to teach in an inner-city school where gangs run the streets. A law enforcement officer shows courage when refusing to take a bribe. A teen grasps courage to say no to drugs. A person grips courage and accepts a beating instead of following a religion or political policy. A man or woman garners courage to walk away from an abusive relationship. A person embraces courage to walk away from a high-paying job to serve humanity.

We open the dictionary and find descriptors like bravery, daring, grit boldness, spunk, and a huge list of other words. We hold tight to what we believe is courageous.

The definition of a writer is one who writes or is a wordsmith. These are people who treasure words, their meanings, and the correct way to use them.

Understanding words strengthens a writer’s self-confidence and how that person interacts with others. When writers specialize in a particular type of writing, they focus their expertise as a novelist, biographer, journalist, columnist, poet, and the list goes on. But nowhere in the analysis of who or what do we see the prerequisite of courage.

Are you mulling over the courage feature? Does it make little sense when you’re scrambling to memorize the dictionary, thesaurus, and the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style?

Courage is the ability to do whatever makes us shake and tremble. It’s a gut-wrenching fear that hovers over “what if I fail?” and sometimes “what if I  succeed?” I think of writer courage as bravery in the face of fear, the ability to shove aside how we might be hurt physically, mentally, or emotionally and reach out to grasp our calling.

Do you have what it takes to carry the banner called writer? I bet you do. I bet you want the distinction so badly that you’ll do anything to ensure it happens. You’re ready to make sacrifices and envision your name on a published manuscript.

Writers are heroes and heroines who use the power of the pen (or fingers on the keyboard) to create new worlds and show insight about the world and culture around us.

What does writer courage mean to you? The following are fifteen ways to know you’re on the right writerly path of courage.

  1. Accept the gift of communication though the written word. It belongs to you. Seize it. Embrace it. Love it. Whip it into shape. Most importantly, step forward for the adventure of a lifetime. Lace up your hiking boots for a mountaintop experience. You’ll grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  2. Grasp the knowledge of those who’ve gone before you and have endeavored to offer valuable instruction. Read the how-to books. Read again. Repeat. There is always at least one gem in every writing book.
  3. Read the best sellers. Treat them as textbooks. Underline or highlight vital points. Study the who, what, where, when, how, and why. Consider incorporating different techniques to see if the method fits your voice, brand, and genre.
  4. Discipline your life to be successful. Time management may come easy or it may be as foreign as living in outer space. Look for ways to schedule writing time. Writing isn’t for the fainthearted or weak-minded. The job requires hours of working alone.
  5. Write every day. This may mean rising earlier in the morning, writing over the lunch hour or late at night. Give up the TV and the weekend nap and see how much your writing improves.
  6. This means edit your work, lifestyle, personal habits. Repeat.
  7. Discover social media and post consistently.
  8. Brand your writing in everything you do. Remember, if a writer doesn’t take charge of branding, the publishing world will do it, and the writer may not like the result.
  9. Analyze every facet of your work. Where do you need improvement? What’s working? Do you need private instruction to sharpen your tools in the craft, marketing, promotion, branding?
  10. Attend writing conferences to strengthen your career. Be well-rounded in your instruction. Network with other writers, agents, editors, social media specialists,
  11. Exercise your body and eat in a nutritionally sound way. A failing body means a failing writer.
  12. Submit your work. Take charge of achieving your goals. This means studying the market, knowing how to professionally prepare a submission, sending it to an agent or editor, and following up on the status of the manuscript according to guidelines.
  13. Prepare for the naysayers. Oh, yes, the well-meaning friends and family who question why you’re wasting valuable time on a hobby and if you need meds or counseling. Hint: memorize an elevator pitch of your current book, and watch the sneers morph into admiration. Enlist immediate family members to help you reach your goals by taking over household chores.
  14. Seek entertainment. Writing is enhanced through personal experiences. While reading is a necessity, viewing great movies, plays, and musicals inspire our creativity. If you’re a nature enthusiast, hike, canoe, jog, take time to engage in a sport—enjoy a task that frees your mind. There in the midst of an activity that has nothing to do with writing is an opportunity to find new topics. Take time to laugh.
  15. Whether the writer is full-time or part-time, all work and no downtime wears down the body, the spirit, and the passion for writing.

If zeal to follow your writing dreams has dwindled to a drip from the creative faucet, and your courage to flood the world with one beautiful word after another is dry, take a look at the fifteen tips above. You just might find your writer courage to begin again.

How do you keep your zeal for writing?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author whose titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. She’s won two Christy Awards and been a finalist for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Her new novel High Treason, is available HERE on Amazon. Connect with DiAnn on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.

5 Responses to “15 Ways to Strengthen Writer Courage”

  1. Ken Hughes February 9, 2018 at 6:59 am #

    And don’t forget the definition of discipline (which is a focused form of the same thing): doing what you want, instead of what you want right now.

    • DiAnn Mills February 9, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

      Thanks, Ken, for those who struggle with discipline, perhaps a reward system might work.

  2. Billie February 9, 2018 at 7:38 pm #

    DiAnn, thank you for these tips. I could feel my courage growing as I read the article. I struggle with depression and anxiety, and getting on task is often a challenge despite my love of writing and reading. Staying on task is easier once I get started. I’m dedicated to being the best writer I can, so I will continue to manipulate my schedule and work on discipline.

    • DiAnn Mills February 11, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

      Hi Billie, Glad I could help. I encourage you to get involved with a writing group. Take care.

  3. Bryan Fagan February 16, 2018 at 6:25 am #

    An excellent list. Thank you. All of us see ourselves in many of the things you described. In my eyes what you wrote is a building block. A bunch of tiny pieces fitting together for us to succeed. The path that we chose is hard. We are a brave bunch and for those of us who continue when all seems lost are the best of the bunch.

Leave a Reply to DiAnn Mills

Gravatar Image

Yes—you CAN make a comfortable living as a writer. But you need a clear plan!
Enter your email to grab my proven 4-step system for mapping out your career (and you'll also get my useful twice-monthly updates!).

Yes—you CAN make a comfortable living as a writer. But you need a clear plan!

Enter your email to grab my proven 4-step system for mapping out your career (and you'll also get my useful twice-monthly updates!).

Awesome! Check your email for your free guide.