"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Courage to Write

by Sue Anne Hodge

I once had lunch with author Sue Grafton and nearly wept with joy when I found out anxiety accompanies the first and last word of every book she sits to write. The eight other hopeful writers seated at her table reacted with sighs, smiles, and one even laughed out loud. What a relief to find out fear is felt by writers at every level.

So, what can a writer do about this anxiety? One could let fear take on an altruistic disguise by employing the I-can't-say-no-syndrome. This is one of my favorites. Make yourself so busy helping with truly admirable tasks that you don't have time to sit at your keyboard. Or another ploy dear to my heart is the I-come-last-syndrome: I just need to dump the garbage, throw in a load of wash, walk the dogs, go to work, make dinner and clean up the kitchen ... then, if there's time left, I'll write.

What is the remedy for fear, anxiety, ploys that push my story out into the cold?

First: I need to remember that a gift of storytelling is valuable. Where would our world be without its storytellers? I need to ascribe worth to my talent. Yes, I said the (gasp) five-letter word: Talent. For even if I've yet to sell my mystery series, I have completed two books in that series. Two books that have won first and second place in different writing contests I've entered.

Second: I need to grab my fear, anxiety, feeling of worthlessness by the throat and wrestle all into submission! Then, like many writers, including multi-published ones, pull on my boots, cowboy-up, sit down, and type the first word on that blank page.


  1. Great Post Sue Ann. The fear that took me fifty years to consquer is: "What makes you think you can write a book? You don't even know where to start or how to plot, format, or arrange a story. Writing requires much more skill than you have, so why even think about writing a book."

    I don't know if it was the wisdom and maturity that comes with age or what, but one day I just decided to give it a try. And much to my surprise, I discovered that I knew more instinctively about writing than I thought I did. So I wrote that first story. Granted, it needed much polish, but at least I had made a start. From there I have written four books, two of which are published, one of which won a first place in state competition, and a second in national competition. So, yes, we just have to bite the bullet and write that first word.

  2. All so very true, Sue Anne. Thanks for reminding us to keep the faith, do the hard work, and reap the reward.

  3. Oh, this sounds so much like me! I made the goal to finish a rough draft by summer. But sometimes life jerks out your heart, and you have to attend to family matters. I will finish my book. Not as soon as I'd hoped, but that's still my goal. We are holding you to yours, Sue Anne. :0