Successful writers know how to find the courage to write – especially when they’re scared! These tips are inspired by William Faulkner’s famous writing quip about killing your darlings, and by The Parable of the Mountain Climber.
I’m not saying you’ll find courage to write if you steal from other writers – but from Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative I learned that writing is fluid, ideas are waiting to be plucked, and writers need to let go of not only their writing but their plans to get signed by literary agents, published by big print book companies, and sold to the masses. Finding the courage to write is about sharing who you are without expectations or attachments.
Successful writers need to let go of their need to be original. “Everything that needs to be said has already been said,” said Andre Gide. “But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” Austin Kleon adds that writers need to be free from the burden of trying to be completely original. We need to absorb the influences of writers we admire, and learn how to find the courage to write.
Consider how The Parable of the Mountain Climber applies to writing your books, blog posts, and magazine articles. Remember that if you can master the art of letting go of your writing, you’ll find more courage to write.
The Parable of the Mountain Climber
Once upon a time there was a mountain climber who was determined to reach the summit of a high mountain. After years of preparation, she began her adventure. She journeyed alone, because she wanted to prove she could climb the mountain by herself.
She began her ascent. Daylight faded, but she decided to continue climbing until night fell. Soon she was overcome by total darkness. The moon and stars were hidden in the clouds, and she couldn’t see anything.
The mountain climber was only a few yards away from the summit when she slipped and fell off a ridge, plummeting at a frightening speed. While falling, she could only see shadow-like figures in the darkness while she felt gravity sucking her down.
She thought death was near when suddenly she felt the tightening of the rope around her waist. She jerked to a stop – her rope was caught on part of the rock wall of the mountain.
In desperation, suspended in mid-air, she screamed, “God, please help me!”
“How would you like me to help you?” said a deep voice.
“Save me!” the climber cried.
“Do you really think I can save you?”
“Yes, God, I do!”
“Well then, cut the rope,” said God.
After a moment of silence, the mountain climber tightened her grip on the rope around her waist.
A few hours later, the sun rose and the rescue team found her. She had frozen to death, her hands clutching the rope tied to her waist…and she was suspended only two feet from the ground.
If the climber had let go of the rope, she would have lived to climb another day.
How to Find Courage to Write
What does The Parable of the Mountain Climber mean to you as a writer? I welcome your thoughts below! Here’s what it means to me…
Writers need to detach from their writing
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings,” said William Faulkner. Why? Because if you cling to your precious words, sentences, paragraphs and pages because you love them so very very much, then you’re too attached to your writing. And if you’re too attached, then you won’t find courage to edit and let go of your writing. If you don’t know how to let go of your writing – or you can’t let go of your writing – then it’ll never go beyond the Word document of your computer.
If you have trouble letting go of your writing, read 5 Ways to Proofread and Edit Your Writing.
Writers need support from other writers
In The Parable of the Mountain Climber, the climber tried to reach the summit alone…and she failed. She didn’t even trust God. What about you? As a writer, are you a solitary climber, a lone wolf? I am. Except for God, I write alone. I’ve been part of writers’ groups in the past and I’ve found writers’ conferences and retreats inspiring and informative, but lately it’s been just me and God in my blogging. This probably isn’t the healthiest way to write, but I have learned how to find the courage to write in a whole new way. One day I’ll probably join other writers so I’m no longer climbing alone, but for now the solitary journey suits me. That’s my form of courageous writing right now.
Writers need to know what to let go of
Are you overly reliant on a writing group, writers’ blog, or forum for people who want to write? If you’re serious about learning how to let go of your writing, then you need to discern what to let go of. Maybe you need to let go of the dozens of writing newsletters you get every week, or your daily Facebook fix. Maybe you need to let go of insecurities, jealousies, neediness, desperation. Years ago, I let go of the temptation to care what people think of my blogs. Now I struggle with letting go of what subscribers think of my “Putting Parables Into Practice” newsletter. What do you need to let go of, so you can blossom as a writer? I know how I find the courage to write….how do you find the courage?
Writers need faith and courage to write
Successful writers trust their writing. They know when to hang on to those little darlings, and when to let them go. Successful writers don’t just trust their writing, they trust whatever it is that keeps them motivated to write. It doesn’t matter whether your writing motivation (or courage) comes from God, personal inspiration, the Muse, faith in other writers’ journeys – all writers need something to hang on to that helps them stay motivated to keep writing. That’s the key on how to find courage to write: have faith that you are here for a purpose, and what you write will land where it’s supposed to be. Trust, and let go.
If you lack inspiration to write and need practical tips, read 10 Ways to Increase Your Writing Motivation.
Fellow scribes, your thoughts on how to find the courage to write – or The Parable of the Climber – are welcome below. Have you taken a leap of faith as a writer?