My one piece of advice to anyone involved in a writing career is to be fearless. It takes guts to put yourself out there for everyone to read. And no, the crowd doesn’t always roar approval . . . but when they do-it’s sweet.

What exactly is involved in fearlessness? Well, here are the components I include in my definition of the word:

Vision. Know where you are going and why you want to get there. Keep your eye on the prize and not on the grind of everyday ups and downs.

Passion. Believe in what you are writing. Have something to say to your readers. Hold nothing back and do not flinch from the truth. Live for the moment when your story comes together–and struggle with the words until you get there. Remember there are two sides to the discipline of writing. The first is the plodding journeyman approach to craft and the second is something mercurial. It defies description. It’s unique to you alone, born out of your own inspiration and the insight you’ve gained into others’ souls through your experiences. What you are offering is yours alone to give.

Optimism. Reach for the stars. Never give up. Believe in yourself even when all others are ready to count you out. Success is rewarding, but often I’ve learned more from the things that didn’t always work out. Those challenges have taken my work to the next level and to accomplishments I hadn’t even imagined possible. Go forward with conviction.

A strong work ethic. I know brilliant writers who’ve never gotten past re-working a first chapter over and over again. And others who walk around with the ideas in their heads but they won’t or can’t take the time to put them down on paper. A book is written one painstaking, exasperating word after another. We write in fits and starts, in endless marathons, and when the rest of the world is living normally. Sometimes what is on the screen is crap; sometimes it’s brilliant; sometimes it’s passable. That’s the way it is. If you want to write, put your butt in a chair and join the fray.

Courage. Here’s the heart of it. Don’t be afraid of writing or life. Be willing to stretch yourself and to take risks. Nothing is more boring than a writer who doesn’t challenge herself. Use your individuality to a competitive advantage and remember that whatever happens the sun will rise tomorrow, those who love you will still be there . . . and there will be more words to write, more stories to tell.

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