Why Writing a Book Is an Act of Courage

Each time I meet someone who wants to write a book, I send up a little prayer.

May your book be of service in the world.
May you find the help you need to get it out there.
And may you have the bravery to follow your book journey all the way to the end.

The last of these prayers gets an extra-special little dollop of love, because it’s the trickiest.

For what I can only imagine are evolutionary reasons, most of us have a pretty deep shame response. We are afraid of being different; of not belonging; of being publicly humiliated; of not being loved.

When it comes time to sit down and write a book, all of those fears naturally arise. But why?

Fear is a defense mechanism. It actually protects us from putting ourselves into dangerous situations.

But publishing my book is not a dangerous situation, you may be thinking. In fact, it’s the thing I want most in the world!

To your self-aware mind, sure. The conscious, neo-cortex part of you knows that finishing your book is the right next step toward any number of things you really, really want. Full self-expression. An overflow of clients. The chance to help others. Fame, fortune and glory. (No? Not even a little bit? C’mon….)

It’s the reptilian brain that seems to get in the way. This subconscious part of you is running on old stories from a long-ago past, where being seen meant being eaten.

Or perhaps it remembers a more recent time, when being a healer—with powers that seemed otherworldly—was a good way to get yourself lashed to a stake or beheaded in front of a crowd.

Or maybe it’s even more recent still. Perhaps as a little one you saw that bad things happened to people in your household who made their voices known. And you promised yourself, way back then, that you’d make yourself invisible and, thus, safe—for the rest of your life.

I’m writing my own book right now, and I bump up against invisible safety mechanisms every time I sit down to write.

You’ll hear from lots of wonderful writing teachers that you just have to sit down and do it. It’s elbow grease that’s needed.

Which is entirely true. But it’s not the whole truth. Because you need something else too.

You need the bravery.

The bravery to say, “This feels dangerous and I’m doing it anyway.”
The bravery to say, “I’m willing to feel this discomfort now, on behalf of the readers who I am trying to serve.”
The bravery to say, “This is bigger than me.”
The bravery to say, “No matter what happens, I am answering this call.”

My friend, this is bravery that you already have. Bravery you show every day in smaller and bigger ways. Now is the time to dedicate some of your brave toward the thing you want most: writing your book into being.

I know you have it in you. So today, this is my prayer for you.

May your book be of service in the world.
May you find the help you need to get it out there.
And may you have the bravery to follow your book journey all the way to the end,
in service of yourself—and all of us who are waiting.