by Cynthia Herron
If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve grown accustomed to hearing words like thick-skinned. Tough-as-nails. Not-for-the-fainthearted. Resilient.
We may not like their connotation, but unless we approach our craft with a realistic mindset, those words can propel us forward or freeze us in our tracks.
Writers on the publishing journey understand the road is long and labor-intensive. Still, it doesn’t mean we don’t tire of the yo-yo effect (the ups and downs that accompany the journey) or that we ever get used to the amount of work it takes to arrive.
And for Pollyannas (the “glad game” folks) and Cinderellas (believers in the fairy tale), the journey may seem especially out of whack. We work hard, study our craft, and think we understand what’s required only to realize we still have a lot to learn.
It’s far from the charmed life we initially envisioned.
It takes more heart, more stamina, and more courage than we ever dreamed possible.
It sometimes hurts.
And yet…it excites and inspires.
We place every scrap of newfound knowledge in our writing bank and anticipate the pay-off. Our “pay-off” might come by way of affirmation-a critique partner’s praise, a call from an agent, a publishing contract, or a well-timed surprise that makes our toes tingle. And it’s the hope that begs us to press on.
When I’m sitting down at my keyboard, I steer clear of the negative. I keep things light and happy with Post-it notes of scriptures scattered about in my office. I whip out my “writer courageous” cape and wear it for good measure. (Yes. I really have one. It’s my Nana’s sweater she wore about 25 years ago. It’s a source of joy and it brings me comfort. Her sweater also gives me courage on those days where I feel less than my best. Nana knew my aspiration was writing novels one day.)
As writers, I think it’s important we discover those go-to cues that bring us courage and rally us to the cause.
We can’t be Suzy Sunshine all the time (drat!), but we can choose ways to limit the clouds:
• Think in the NOW
• Pray over fears
• Fine-tune goals
• Develop a plan
• Envision success
• Share with a friend
When we’re anticipating our journey and not dwelling on the road it takes to “get there,” our mindsets shift. We’re no longer afraid of the trip, but excited about the possibilities.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about this courage thing.
I’ll tell you the (tactful) truth.
As you know, the truth isn’t necessarily pretty and wrapped in a bow, but sometimes candor is liberating. Understanding why something is the way it is causes us to dig deeper.
The truth motivates us to rise above the bar. It helps us chart our course of action.
Is it fun?
Courage is the game-changer.
refrains from stirring the pot when we’d like to stick our spoon in.
shelves bragging rights at another’s expense.
gives it a go just one more time when quitting would be easier.
toots the horn of a friend above the gong of our own.
tamps down fear in favor of cowering in the corner.
means being real despite the temptation of a façade.
is the unvarnished reflection of us at our worst while mirroring the potential of God’s best.
Courage is that holy, sacred thing that stirs our heart and fuels our incentive.
Now, I’m not fond of the name-it-and-claim-it mentality. While I believe God can change circumstances in a heartbeat, initially, there may be sacrifice involved. We might have to wait, let something go, or shift our desires until the timing’s right.
That doesn’t mean we don’t trust God.
It means we persevere until He completes the process.
How long will it take?
Well, it could be in the blink of an eye or years down the road. Your trek might be shorter, simpler, or require less patience than someone else’s.
Regardless the path or the timing, the outline’s the same.
We have to start at the beginning and work through the middle to get to the end.
What’s the easiest and hardest thing about your journey?
What keeps you focused?
What have you learned about courage?
Cynthia Herron writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the foothills of the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. She has a degree in psychology with a background in social work. She’s a member and Vice President of ACFW MozArks, and a member of ACFW and RWA. Cynthia is represented by Mary G. Keeley/Books and Such Literary Management. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple!
Cynthia would be delighted to visit with you at her cyber home (www.authorcynthiaherron.com) where she blogs MWF.