One of the aspects of writing a book for publication that I emphasize with the Writer’s Journey approach is to give as much attention to preparing yourself for published authorship as you do to preparing your work.
This is because who you become as an author is just as important as what you write.
One facet of this relates to developing and strengthening certain qualities that are proven to be of value to support you on the path to publication – and beyond!
The 5 qualities that I recommend cultivating are: courage, commitment, perseverance, patience and authenticity.
It is said that courage is a decision made in the face of fear, not in the absence of it. And most writers I know would agree that courage to face fears, anxieties and doubts go hand-in-hand with the process of writing.
Why is that?
Well, writing often reflects your innermost thoughts and ideas, and so comes from a deep level within you. Perhaps you are presenting information you feel passionately about or telling a story that is incredibly meaningful to you? Either way, there is often a sense of vulnerability that goes with putting your words onto the page.
In fact, you need courage to get started with your writing in the first place. For many people this requirement represents such a huge challenge that the dream never quite makes it to the reality of the written word.
You also need courage to overcome any negative messages that you may have been given in the past about your ability to write (often going right back to school days) and the question of ‘who will want to read my book anyway?’
Another typical moment when courage is required comes when you have completed some writing that is ready to show to others.
Level one would be choosing carefully from family, friends or trusted colleagues who would be interested in your work and could perhaps offer some useful feedback. Level two might be the first time that you show your work to a publishing professional (coach, mentor, agent or publisher). Often this demands taking quite a deep breath first and it certainly entails crossing an important threshold on your journey towards publication.
Courage is also required when it comes to handling the feedback you receive on your work. In the early stages, this may be done quite informally and be relatively ‘private’ to you although this still represents a significant step for many writers.
Further on, comments on your writing may be more ‘public’ and it certainly takes courage to deal with the possibility of receiving critical reviews once your book is published. Interestingly, for some people, it can demand just as much courage to accept praise and positive feedback.
So here are 3 tips that will help you to build up your reserves of courage and enable you to break through these inevitable challenges on your writer’s journey:
1. Choose one task every day that requires a degree of courage for you to complete it. It doesn’t have to be related to your writing or even be a huge issue (although occasionally deciding to do something ‘big and scary’ can be incredibly liberating).
It could be making a telephone call that you have been putting off for ages or deciding to attend an evening class for the first time. The important point is that you get into the habit of experiencing the world outside of your comfort zone. The more regularly you do so, the easier it becomes and the more you build up your reserves of courage for when you really need them.
2. Allocate time on a regular basis to reading inspiring stories, quotes or articles about people who have shown courage in their lives and/or with their writing or other forms of creative expression.
Allow yourself to be moved into action by the example set by others. Nurture your courageous spirit by filling your mind and your heart with tales of the positive outcomes experienced by those who have ‘felt the fear and done it anyway’.
3. Use the unlimited power of your imagination to ‘act as if’ you already had the courage to do whatever you need to do.
William James said, ‘To feel brave, act as if we were brave, use all of our will to that end, and a courage fit will very likely replace the fit of fear.’ With your writing, act as if you already are the experienced and successful writer that you would like to become. Try writing from that creative frame of mind and see how the quality of your writing unfolds when it comes from a place of courage instead of doubt.
As always, I love to hear your comments on these ideas and how they relate to your own experiences of writing and the creative process so do please share your thoughts below …
© Julia McCutchen 2010. All Rights Reserved.
If you want to use this article in your ezine or on your website I’d be happy for you to do so as long as you use the complete article, including the copyright line, and include the following paragraph in its entirety:
Julia McCutchen is the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) where writers discover their authentic voice – on the page and in the world. A former managing director & publisher (Element, Random House), Julia is a successful and intuitive writer’s coach, mentor and professional publishing consultant. She has over 20 years’ experience of publishing and a track record that includes UK no 1 and international bestsellers. Julia is the author of The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication and the creator of the How to Write the Ultimate Book Proposal Online Masterclass Course. For a FREE Special Report, Discover Your Authentic Voice – on the page and in the world, visit www.iaccw.com, and for a range of FREE articles, audios and videos for writers visit www.juliamccutchen.com.