What, me? Bold? Huh?
If, like me, you are a bit on the shy side, when someone says BE BOLD you go: Uh, no thanks. Why don’t you go be bold and meanwhile I’ll be over here on the couch reading a good book, ok?
That is my preferred response.
But when you are a writer you are, by definition, bold.
Boldness is built into the process.
Being a writer is an odd mix of solitude + introversion + creativity + stubbornness + boldness.
Here’s how you are bold as a writer.
1. When you write
When you sit down and pour out your ideas on paper/napkin/phone/laptop you are being bold.
This does not always seem obvious but every time you write it is an act of self assertion. It is you saying: this idea matters to me and I am going to preserve it, shape it, design it and give it the space it deserves in the world.
Being creative requires that you be bold.
So you are bold whenever you decide to honour the voices within you and give them shape.
Recently I went through a few (agonizing) stretches of self silencing. And when those moments finally broke I felt like the hero in a movie finally climbing those steps/picking up the sword/squaring off against the enemy (in this case, self doubt).
Just making it up to the page and laying it down, making something or of nothing, is BOLDNESS.
2. When you share your work with others
Whenever you hand something over to another and say “I made this” there is vulnerability. Whenever you say: “this is my idea” or “this is what I think”, there is vulnerability. To face ones vulnerability, one must be BOLD.
Dealing with feelings of vulnerability is a central aspect of being a writer. We tap into our intellect, empathy, experiences, imagination, and we take all that and magically weave it into something important to us.
When we share it, we risk the judgement of others.
This goes for everything from a tweet to a trilogy.
Once you put your words out there, they belong to the world. It’s in the hands of the audience and some might appreciate it but some might not. Some might not even care.
And so we also risk indifference.
Whenever there is RISK you need to be BOLD.
Whenever you put yourself out there, you are being BOLD.
3. Self promotion
Ugh! This is the tough one and I think for most writers this is what they think about when they think of being bold…
The moment when you really have to ‘put yourself out there’ in the marketplace.
This is beyond just ‘sharing’. This is when you are deliberately entering the book selling business and have to do things like make a pitch, write a query letter, tweet/email someone in the business or, if you are self publishing, pick a platform, and self promote.
This is when you/I have to make yourself/myself get up off the couch…
Ok. Square the shoulders, and assert yourself with purpose, with focus, and with polite firmness…
Declare: ‘my work is worthy of of the market’s attention’.
Say it again: ‘my work is worthy of of the market’s attention’.
This requires BOLDNESS x 10.
But by this point, remember: writers are boldness ninjas.
Before we even reach this point, we have acted with considerable boldness. As noted above, we experience many many many micro-bold moments over time.
Now here’s a macro-bold moment and guess what? You got this!
It’s the same muscle group. Just flex it!
And that, I think, is the writing life writ BOLD.
Just follow step 1-3 on and on, to infinity.
Or did I miss something? Where else are we bold with as writers? Any thoughts? List them below!
PS. How do you like my low-tech comic (above) made from recycled cardboard with a sharpie pen? Bitstrips as I knew it is no longer, alas. So no new bitstrips comics from me.
I’m going DIY. But TY Bitstrips, we had a good run!
I picture Leonidas screaming, “This…is…BOLDNESS!”
Would make a good meme.