Writers are notoriously self-conscious creatures.
We doubt the flow and the cadence of our words. We question the validity of our thoughts. We are eternally plagued by the self-sabotaging belief that nothing we write will ever be good enough.
How could we possibly measure up to the sheer genius of those who stoked the flames of our passion and inspired us to write in the first place?
What if we pour our hearts into our prose, only to have it relentlessly dismembered by critics and trolls?
What if we lay our souls bare and no one notices or cares…
Scarier yet, what if they do?
The King of Beasts
When we read L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it’s difficult to imagine it as anything less than the masterpiece we’re familiar with today. Certainly he never doubted that his writing would become a cultural mainstay and touch the lives of millions, right? I mean, great writers are supposed to know they’re great. Why would anyone with such a knack for storytelling ever hesitate to share their gift?
“It’s a mystery,” replied the Lion. “I suppose I was born that way. All the other animals in the forest naturally expect me to be brave, for the Lion is everywhere thought to be the King of Beasts.”
But it’s completely normal for a writer to be filled with apprehension at the thought of publishing their work, and that’s not always a bad thing:
- It forces us to critically re-examine our words.
- It can save us from embarrassing errors.
- It allows us to fine-tune our thoughts.
- It allows us to redraft our sentences and paragraphs to ensure that they convey our ideas effectively.
But the overly critical writer gets stuck in analysis paralysis.
If we allow the critical voice within to dominate our thoughts and actions, we’ll never share our words at all.
Or perhaps we’ll seek external validation from some all-powerful wizard in an Emerald City (or a well-known blogger) to give us the courage we seek.
“Oz keeps a great pot of courage in his Throne Room,” said the man, “which he has covered with a golden plate, to keep it from running over. He will be glad to give you some.”
And although that wizard may be the most wonderful wiz that ever there was, he’s still just a person. Like all people, even the best writers doubt their words. On a regular basis.
But every great writer started somewhere. We have to crush – or at least temporarily suppress – our fear of the critics.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain – he cannot give you anything you don’t already have. The best articles, writing coaches, and blogs do nothing more than awaken you to the truth that you had the courage to write within you all along.
Writing is a risk. It exposes our hidden desires, passions, fears and vulnerabilities.
Successful writers are the ones who have learned to get comfortable putting themselves on the line and taking that chance.
The Cowardly Lion said it best:
“I am terribly afraid of falling, myself,” said the Cowardly Lion, “but I suppose there is nothing to do but try it. So get on my back and we will make the attempt.”
Have you ever struggled to find the courage to write? Do you still? How did you overcome it? You can start small: Share your experience in the comments.
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