- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805074678
- ISBN-13: 978-0805074673
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 70 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear
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“Fresh and Startling-one of the two or three best books on writing I've ever read.” ―John Jakes, author of North and South
“Anyone who is a writer, wants to be a writer, or knows a writer will want to pick up a copy of The Courage to Write. It is one of the best books about the writing profession ever published.” ―The Fresno Bee
“Here's practical and positive advice that can help every writer capitalize on anxiety instead of knuckling under to it. Writers not only need this book-they know they need it.” ―Judith Applebaum, author of How to Get Happily Published
About the Author
Ralph Keyes is the co-author of Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: Managing Innovation in a Changing Economy. His many other books include The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde, and The Wit and Wisdom of Harry Truman.
Top customer reviews
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It feels a bit watered down in places, however this is because the author attempts to identify the whole gamut of fears writers might confront. Many of the fears covered in the beginning simply didn't apply to me; at least, not consciously. As I progressed, however, I ran across many familiar fears and was reminded about what good writing is in the process.
It turns out that, not only are good writing and fear related, they are symbiotic. An author *needs* fear to produce authentic material. Being a writer is not about conquering fear, Keyes suggests, it's about learning to control and transmute it.
It's about courage.
The book grew on me as I read. Chapters 7 and 9 were the most helpful and by the time I turned the final page, I gave the book a standing ovation. Figuratively. I was actually sitting on the toilet. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some writing to do.
But none of these matter if you haven't come to terms with the difficult emotions that lie at the heart of the creative process.
This is what Ralph Keyes book does - it helps you to not just deal with fear, but to transmute it into a creative force. It really is a brilliant work, and a must read for anyone intending to put pen to paper.
The author's advice is simple: accept that writing anxiety is a natural part of the process, and use the energy to focus your writing. It was somewhat comforting to read about other well-known authors coping with their anxiety in creative and calming ways. For example, Hemingway sharpened 20 pencils before starting to write. For others, lighting a candle and saying a prayer had the same effect. The author even goes so far as to say that writing without fear would be dull.
Although this book is about writing anxiety, Keyes does support the view that writers who develop a working style that keeps them productive are the most successful. I was glad that towards the end of the book Keyes acknowledged that writing can be exhilarating, which balanced his view of writing as rather agonizing throughout the rest of the book.
Just to know that other people struggle with the very same battles yet got through it is comforting. Although this book won't physically put your hand to the paper to write, it will gently lead you to the paper so that you WANT to write, and are able to harness that fear and be in control of it, instead of it controlling you.
I could talk about this book at great length, but maybe I should save the effort for my own project. I rate this book very highly. It's encouraging while disillusioning; it's hopeful and optimistic even while it rubs your nose in reality. Read this book first, all of you writer wannabes, and I'll be surprised if you don't re-read it at low points on your path. It is not a book that shows you how to write, but gives you motives and insights for actually sitting down and writing. The author has a readable style and his quotes from various professional writers will remind you that you're not alone in your fears that lead to finding excuses to delay writing. Most writers dread the task of writing, but enjoy tremendously the fact of having written. Sometimes you feel this joy when you've done something well, but between the beginning and the ending there's many a hard slog uphill. After reading this book, I thought I might buy another of his works. I think you will, too.