Why is that one criticism or even a well-meaning critique has the power to neutralize a hundred compliments or accolades?
As writers, our words are the scripted hearts that we wear on our sleeves. We put ourselves out there with the best intentions, yet it only takes one negative comment to cause us to question ourselves or, even worse, crush our enthusiasm for writing. How many of us have ignored twenty positive comments on a blog post and ruined our day or week over one rude or insensitive comment?
Today’s post offers an opportunity for you to reset your perspective, especially if you’ve questioned whether your words matter these days.
In one of the most well-known speeches of modern times, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with early 20th-century trolls who tried to discourage those who wanted to make the world a better place.
Most writers want to make the world a better place. Maybe you don’t, but I’m going to assume that you do. Now, more than ever, your inspiring, encouraging, entertaining or instructing words provide a vital, positive push against the ever-widening grain of negativity that is so much a part of our world today.
If you haven’t read Roosevelt’s classic speech, “Citizen in a Republic,” better known as the “Man in the Arena,” I’ve included it below. If it’s been awhile since you’ve read it, I hope that it inspires you again. It always inspires me!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The credit belongs to you today, writing friend. At Books & Such, we celebrate your courage for sitting back down behind that laptop, even though you’ve been wrestling with that manuscript and wondering if you should keep going or give up. Keep going!
We applaud you for continuing to submit your queries and write your proposals. Even though you haven’t yet achieved the results that you want, you’re holding onto your worthy dream.
You are the definition of “daring greatly,” and we admire you for it.
Remember the training montage in the original Rocky movie? (Click the link to watch. It will totally make your day!)
It’s the scene where an unknown Rocky Balboa has a chance to train for the big fight. No one knows who he is, therefore, no one is betting that he’ll win. But it doesn’t matter.
In that iconic training montage, Rocky presses out one-arm push-ups and punches hanging slabs of fresh meat. Other than his coaches, there is no one else around to celebrate Rocky’s daily ministrations of hope and preparation. As he ran up those iconic Philadelphia steps and fist-pumped the air at the top, Rocky celebrated his commitment to putting in the work whether anyone saw him or not. He believed in himself and put sneakers on that belief. He showed up every day, regardless of whether he would get his big shot.
Dear writer friend, keep showing up. Don’t let the critics keep you away. Spend yourself in this worthy writing cause. Always, yes, always, challenge yourself to dare greatly.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What part of Roosevelt’s speech connects with you most as a writer? What is a big writer challenge that you need to take, even though you’ll need to dare greatly to do it?