The Courage to Write

The Courage to WriteNaNoWriMo is right around the corner and I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether or not I should participate this year. Finishing up Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write seemed like a good way to help me to decide.

The Courage to Write isn’t a “how-to” book. It’s more of a “why-to” or even more accurately, a “why-not-to” (and how to silence those objections) book. It talks a lot about why people who think they want to write, don’t. And as the title would suggest, fear is one of the biggest reasons (according to Keyes) that people don’t write, and overcoming that fear is a struggle for many writers. Keyes illustrates his points with many anecdotes that he has gathered both from writers we’ve all heard of and those we haven’t and never will (since they gave up the fight). More specifically, one of the greatest fears that a writer faces is that of making a fool of him or herself. Keyes talks about how writers expose themselves when they write, and how intimidating that can be.

This is a great read for struggling writers. It’s like a shot of moral support in book form. It won’t make you a better writer, but it might keep you writing, and that will eventually make you a better writer. The tone is very informal, like having a comforting chat with the author. This isn’t one that you finish and stick on a high bookshelf somewhere. This is the kind of book you want to keep close at hand for when you need some inspiration or the comfort of a friendly voice reassuring you that you aren’t alone in the doubts that are plaguing you. 5/5 for writers, and might even be of interest for serious readers, too.

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