Bravery never came easily for me.
Being a kid and being a teenager just felt like a long series of different kinds of fear. Know what I mean?
Scared of what my teachers thought of me, scared of classroom bullies, scared of failing.
Which is why "trying to be brave" has always been part of my vocabulary.
Growing up, heading off to college, choosing writing as an emphasis, reading my poems and short essays in front of an audience—
Trying to be brave. Every step of the way.
It is hard work, trying to cultivate gumption!
But oh, you already know this. Because you're a writer.
And writing takes guts.
No surprise, then, that the last lionhearted trait to discuss in this series is this one: Bravery.
A lionhearted writer works with courage.
I want a writing practice that's infused with courage. At every stage, every level.
Because letting all the fears run the writing show? Means that there isn't a writing show.
When fear has the final say, we lose everything. Ev-ery-thing!!
Our material, our willingness to protect our writing time, our belief that our words have any importance.
Fear zaps our conviction that we can learn how to do this thing. Our belief we will get better at it. Our determination to come back to it again (and again! and again!!).
To create a writing life, to grow at writing, it takes courage.
Buckets of it.
So there are two things I want to do right now, to stir up our bravery.
First, let's revel in a few quality quotes about what courage looks like.
And second, let's talk through one huge way to steadily gain courage, every day. (It's a good one!)
Here you go, a mini quote fest on courage!
PROBABLY Winston thought of that while revising one of his amazing books. Probably. Just a guess. ;)
I love this. (Can't beat Brené Brown for good courage talk!)
We all need to be reminded: the presence of fear doesn't negate our bravery, our courage.
Even with a quivering heart, we can still dare greatly—in our writing, our thinking, our creativity, our stories.
The awesomest little cocktail of bravery ever. One of my favorite approaches for staying the course.
Yes! This too. One of the best forms of courage for a writing life.
Let's always say that, okay? I will try again tomorrow.
Finally, this one. C.S. Lewis (one of my absolute favorite writers!) had this to say about courage in The Screwtape Letters:
Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.
I completely, completely love this.
You take a virtue, a characteristic, a trait. How about the lionhearted trait of kindness, from last Thursday?
All right. Kindness looks like kindness, right?
In its smallest, simplest form, it's pretty straightforward. Easy. No big deal.
But what happens when things heat up? When you run into problems that make it hard to be kind?
It takes a lot more determination to act on that level of kindness, right?
And then, when the obstacles increase, when the stakes are higher—what does kindness look like when it's hard, really really hard, to be kind?
Well, according to Lewis (who was pretty smart): at that fiercest point of testing, at the point of highest reality, the ability to be kind is the same exact thing as courage itself.
Because if we're not brave enough to be kind when it really matters, when it's really hard, then we're not really kind, right?
The point, the point that I love, is this: if we want to get better at courage, it means we dive in deeper to these other characteristics.
If we want to be brave with our kindness, we practice being kind, even when it stings, even when it hurts.
We find that edge where it gets hard, where it's easier to give up—and that's where we focus our effort and our strength.
And THAT is how to grow our courage.
So how do we bring a lot more bravery into our writing lives?
By growing at each of these lionhearted writing characteristics.
And the more we do that, the more we'll see courage, all along the growing edge.
When our trust in ourselves is put to the test, the ability to keep on trusting is gonna look identical to courage.
And when our patience has been tested and tested, and it's looking more than a little frayed, the decision to not flip out, to carry on, to keep pressing forward—that's going be exactly the same thing as courage.
Choosing contentment in the midst of a comparisonitis culture = some pretty radical courage.
It's courage. All of it.
Lionhearted courage is a composite. It's made up of all of these traits. And as we grow in each of these qualities, as we get stronger in each one, as we practice them all, come what may—
We become amazingly brave, incredibly courageous writers.
THAT is the essential lionheart.
That is what we are heading toward together.
Does it sound a little daunting? (I mean... it kinda does, right? Exhilarating, sure. But also a little daunting.)
The good news is that this can be done bit by bit.
Stretch yourself now and then.
Pick a quality or two and lean toward them harder today. You're flexing your courage muscle!
For me, today, I am practicing trusting myself, and I'm choosing patience instead of flipping out. Even though it's hard (SO HARD today!). Even though I can feel the strain.
... But I keep working at it, and right there in that moment, there is courage.
So what qualities are you practicing today?
Keep ramping them up, keep growing at them, and—oh! There it is.
There. Right there.
Look at how brave you are.