Message from the President

April 2023 RWR
Clair Brett
Where did April go? Here in New England the buds are budding, the grass is turning a vibrant shade of green, and the world is coming to life. Like with everything in nature, spring gives us the urge to deep clean and start fresh. All over social media, people are talking about cleaning out closets, sorting through clothes, and airing out their belongings. I know I have my own spring-cleaning list for the next month. Do you?

Spring is a great time to clean out all those thoughts and beliefs that are not serving us in our writing careers. You know what I’m talking about—that mean voice we all have that creeps in when we are having a moment of weakness in our belief in ourselves.

Regardless if you are about to publish your first book or your 150th, we all believe things about ourselves that hold us back. For the first-time author, it could be, “No one will buy my book” or “If they buy it, they may not like it.” It could be putting down more words for book number two. The question might be, “Can I even write a second book?” or, maybe, “If the first book did well, then the second book won’t be as good.” For all those newbie writers out there, don’t think it gets any easier for authors who have an entire library of books on the shelves.

Some of us are confident in our ability to produce the work, but we fall short when it comes to marketing, or we think we are horrible at cover design. And don’t get me started on those of us who have a “complicated” relationship with money and how best to use it in order to make it.

Every single writer has limiting beliefs that hold us back. The ironic thing is that we are building careers around how we take broken characters with their own limiting beliefs and help them, through our storytelling, to see their own worth and to let love in by the end of our stories, but we can’t do that for ourselves.

I have been listening to several self-help podcasts and have been reading psychology books recently to revamp a workshop I give, and I can’t tell you how many times in different books that the authors, who are not, for the most part, fiction writers, mention using the hero’s journey (originated by Joseph Campbell) to work through the mindset issues holding them back. The hero’s journey is a tool that many of us have used so often, we can recite each step by memory, and we never thought to use it for our own lives.

My challenge to you this spring, while you empty that hall closet or go through all the summer clothes to see what to keep for the beach, take the time to pick one limiting belief you have about yourself as an author and walk through the hero’s journey, like you would walk your character. See if you can make yourself the hero of your own author story and take a risk. Step out of your normal world, and do not refuse the call to do that thing because you don’t think you can. Just one thing. That’s all. Like the closet, don’t unpack all the boxes. Just choose one thing.

Maybe you have wanted to try a new genre but were nervous your voice wouldn’t work for it or you wouldn’t be good at it. Write a short story; write one scene. Journal about the story idea. Know that this is your story, so don’t let that mean kid in your head—or your mother-in-law or your high school frenemy—tell you how it should play out. Failures are plot twists, and leaps of faith are you crossing the threshold, just like your characters. If we can learn how to navigate through instead of stopping at the roadblocks, we will all get to our HEAs.