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Posted May 27, 2010
Top notch guide encourages writers to get past their fear
The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes may just be the most helpful writing book I've ever read. I started writing my first novel over seven years ago, but about halfway through I stopped writing and put it aside. When anyone asked, I said that I had writer's block, but that wasn't the truth. The truth is that I was terrified to finish it for fear that no one would want to read it, and that fear stopped my writing dead in its tracks. I had no idea that this problem was so common until reading Keyes' book. The author says that most writers suffer from some kind of deep seated fear, but it's those writers who push past the fear and write anyway who succeed. Even writers who have published often, still regularly face the fear of an empty page each time they sit down. Keyes never dismisses or makes light of these fears. The book has very few actual tips for writers wanting to push past their fears, but is instead filled with anecdotes about famous authors who have faced the absolute terror of exposing their soul on paper for the world to read and how they did it anyway. Some of the stories are amusing, some shocking, but all are encouraging, because it means that I am not alone. Keyes also delves deeply into the psyche of the writer. I always thought that I was just shy and socially inept, but Keyes states that most writers are socially withdrawn and solitary. He quotes Erskine Caldwell, "You cannot be both a good socializer and a good writer. You have to choose." By the time I finished reading the book, I realized that I had started rethinking my novel and realized that the loss of my electronic copy is a good thing, because it forces me to completely re-edit while typing it back up. The book gave me hope that my fear is completely normal, and that if I can just use it rather than be defeated by it, I will finish my book.
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