The Only Thing Writers have to Fear. . .Is Fear Itself!

by Patty Smith Hall

“So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  

~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Well, Mr. Roosevelt, easier said than done!

Most writers I’ve met over my twenty-year writing journey have experienced fear about their work at some time or another.
Whether it’s the terror over receiving a rejection letter or the fear that their work will never be good enough, most of us write with a sense of doom lingering in the back of our minds. So how do we get past the paralyzing effects of fear and advance our writing career?

1) First, you’ve got to own it.

When I was in my first year of nursing school, I had a clinical instructor who scared the crap out of me. She almost seemed to take pleasure in making nursing students cry! The very first week of clinical, she flunked half of our group out of the program because they couldn’t make a hospital bed correctly.

I was terrified. Becoming a nurse was my dream. What if I flunked out over something as silly as a hospital bed corner? Then the day came that I had to draw up my first injection. I’d made up my mind that I wasn’t going to let the barracuda derail my nursing career. As she’s standing beside me, waiting for me to prepare the shot, I turned to her and faced my fear.

I told her she scared me to death. The most surprising thing happened. She smiled at me (which was unusual as she’d never smiled before!) From that moment on, she became my biggest cheerleader, even caring for my oldest daughter when she was born prematurely.

Own your fear or it will own you!

2) Act despite being afraid.

When I first started writing, I wrote short stories and devotionals, then tucked them away in a drawer where no one would ever see them. That’s okay for those who write simply for the joy of writing, but for those who know they’ve been called into a writing ministry, that’s outright disobedience!

This was brought home to me at my paternal grandfather’s funeral. For most of his 96 years, Granddaddy had evaded our questions about his salvation. All he would say is that we would learn the answer at his funeral. When that day came, not only did we learn that Granddaddy had accepted Christ as his Savior, he had a powerful testimony that he’d kept secret because he thought others would think him crazy!

Instead of being comforted, I was angry. How many people could he have reached if he’d not been afraid? In that moment, my mind flashed to all those devotionals and short stories I’d hid away. I was just as bad as he was, paralyzed by what other people might think. It wasn’t long after that I started submitting my work.

Be Bold—nothing ventured, nothing gained.

3) If your worst fears come true, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!

Rejection is never fun. It leaves you bruised and battered, unsure of yourself and your abilities. Working writers deal with their fair share of rejection. It’s been said the paper used to write the horrible things could wallpaper all of New York City ten times over. It’s part and parcel for a writer.

Just remember—a rejection letter is also a badge of courage, a talisman that sets you apart from other writers. It shows you’re serious about your career, and trust me when I say this, agents and editors see it that way too. When that rejection letter comes, kick a few cabinets, shed some tears, maybe down a pint of chocolate ice cream. Then give yourself a pat on the back and move on!

Grow from a rejection letter—it will make you a stronger writer.


Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

by Patty Smith-Hall

I have a confession to make.

I absolutely dread writing blog posts. I’m not exactly sure why. Writing has always been an outlet for me, and I find the time I’m working on a new proposal or putting the finishing touches on a completed novel extremely satisfying. Writing devotions for Journey magazine gives me a platform to share my faith with young women who seek to fulfill their spiritual needs while juggling family and career responsibilities.
So why does the thought of writing a blog post send a cold chill down my spine? Why would I sign on to write one every month if it causes me this much worry?

It was because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. We all have them, that safe place we run to when life gets a little bit too stressful, that place where as an old song use to say, ‘Everyone knows your name.’ The writing journey is no different—it has its own stresses. Whether it’s staring at the blinking cursor on an empty page, sharing your writing for the first time or sending a manuscript to an editor/agent, we have to step out of our comfort zone in order to keep moving toward our goal. To some, that may be getting your dream agent or signing a book contract or in some cases, dominance of the publishing world (trust me–I’ve actually heard writers say that!)

The writing journey isn’t comfortable. It’s filled with stomach-twisting cabinet-kicking moments. A contest entry that lost more blood than a stabbing victim, a disappointing rejection, a crushing review—all those things are enough to throw in the towel and go back to that safe place.

Until the urge to try again kicks in, and even in extreme discomfort, we give it another go. That’s how I feel about blogging. I’m not very good at it, or should I say, there are others here at Novel Rocket who are much more eloquent and educated in the craft than I’ll ever be. That’s not the kind of person or writer that I am. I have all the tact of a 2×4 up the side of someone’s head. But I am willing to step out of my comfort zone like I did when I sent in my first critique or submitted my first novel.

Or write a monthly blog post.

How about you? What part of the writing journey is a step out of your comfort zone?

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.

3 Gifts to Give a Writer for Christmas

by Patty Smith Hall @PattyWrites

The other day, my husband asked me that dreaded question that always pops up this time of year-what do you want for Christmas? That always a difficult question for me to answer as I’m very content with our life and don’t have many wants. Yet, the more I pondered the question, the more I realized that there were a few items on my Christmas list that other writers might appreciate as well.

Time: Life is busy, and it only seems to get busier. When our girls were young, I always thought I’d have more time to write, and I do to a certain extent. But even now that they’re grown with lives of their own, I find myself busy with aging relatives and grandchildren as well as speaking and church obligations. There’s nothing wrong with those things—they are what make life worthwhile. But when the agenda is binge-watching The Walking Dead or The Gilmore Girls, or six hours of football, I get antsy, like I’ve left something undone. Which means I get up at the crack of dawn or stay up passed midnight just to put words to papers. So what can the family of a writer give that would help? A little of their time. Throw in a load of laundry. Make dinner. Run errands. And not just once—make a habit of it. Giving your writer time to write is one of the best presents they’ll ever receive.

Encouragement: When I first started writing, my husband thought of it as my little hobby, something I’d do until I got bored with it. Then he saw me pouring time and money into learning the craft; he came across pieces of paper where I wrote and rewrote segments; he ate dinner alone on those nights I was with my writing group. As I grew as a writer, he became my biggest fan. But that’s not the case with everyone. Some spouses resent the time and money spent writing. I’ve heard horror stories over the years of discouraging family members that break my heart. How painful that must be to that writer’s soul! that b b a writer’s soul! Most writers I know(myself included) are already critical of our writing almost to the point of depression. So to hear someone we love heap hot coals on this area of our lives just makes us feel worse. So this Christmas, try giving the gift of encouragement. It doesn’t have to be much—a simple ‘I’m proud of you’ or I believe you can write that book or article or blog post’ can make all the difference in the world.

Prayer: This may seem silly to some—I mean, why would anyone pray over words being written? Because those words, that manuscript is important to someone you love. The dream of writing is a part of who they are, and their dreams should matter to you. Knowing that my husband prays for me and my writing daily tells me he’s taking an active role in in making my dreams of publication come true. It’s changed his outlook on my writing too. Where once he viewed it as income, he now sees it as my ministry, my calling for this season in my life. And I’ve got to say, I love him all the more for it.

Three simple things you can give that will make your writer more productive and grow your relationship—a Christmas gift to the both of you!


3 Gifts to Give a Writer for Christmas by Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 

Giving a writer time to write is one of the best presents~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 

A Christmas gift to the both of you~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet) 

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.

Words are Wonderful Things

by Linore Rose Burkard

are wordsmiths
. We play with, struggle over, muddle in, misuse and
pluck words into and out of our books or articles with anything from
reckless abandon—the heady steam of inspiration—to
plodding, pulling-teeth frustration. 

day’s work is like rolling full steam ahead
, while another’s is a journey on a
horse-cart as we struggle to find the right words. If we do, the
magic happens, the work sings, and we leave readers happy.
As writers we know
perhaps more than anyone, the power of the written word.

And yet–what a struggle we have at times to get those words written.

We may over-write, under-write*, fail to write, or fail to thoroughly edit what we’ve written.  
Since this is my last post for the year for Novel Rocket, I offer the following words that I’ve gleaned over the past months to encourage you in your writing journey, whether you are at an acme of success, rolling along on a fast track, or climbing the trenches. (Do we ever leave the trenches? Even J.K. Rowling has to face a blank page when she writes.)

Enjoy the following—and if the shoe fits, well, you know what to do.  

It is never too late—in fiction or in life—to revise. -Nancy Thayer 

Write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well. -Agatha Christie 

Forget about all the reasons why something may not work.
You only need to find one good reason why it will. -Dr. Robert Anthony 

I don’t know of one ‘overnight bestseller’ that didn’t take a year and a half to get there. -Mark Victor Hansen

I mailed a manuscript to fifteen publishers. The fifteenth one said yes. – Max Lucado                           

You cannot cross the sea by staring at the water. -R. Tagore (You cannot write a book by staring at a blank page. Write, now. Right now.)

Nothing will come of nothing. Dare mighty things. -Shakespeare

Every writer I know has trouble writing. -Joseph Conrad

It’s not over til it’s over, and it’s never over. Don’t give up too soon, and it is always too soon to quit. -Edward W. Smith

If God didn’t have real plans for us and want to use us, he’d take us to heaven. It’s that simple—and that complicated. -Anonymous

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. -Donald Kendall

Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do (or write) in this world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.    -Helen Keller

Writing is like a sculpture
where you remove, you eliminate, in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain. -Elie Wiesel 

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block. -John Rogers

In closing, a poem on the power of words. While the poet may have been thinking of the spoken word when she wrote this, it can apply to us who wield the pen as well.

Words are Wonderful Things 
Keep a watch on your words, my darling,
For words are wonderful things; 
They are sweet like the bees’ fresh honey,
Like the bees they have terrible stings; 
They can bless like the warm, glad sunshine,
And brighten a lonely life;  
They can cut, in the strife of anger,
Like an open, two-edged knife. 
                                  Mrs. E.R. Miller
To your writing success,

*For word detectives: Under-write, a compound word, meaning not writing enough, or fully, to describe or portray a subject. NOT underwrite, as to accept liability.   


Linore Rose Burkard writes historical romance and, as L.R.Burkard, YA/suspense. Linore teaches workshops for writers, is a mother of five, and still homeschools her youngest daughter—preferably with coffee in one hand, and an  iPad in the other. 

For a chance to win a free copy of one of her books, simply subscribe to her mailing list at either of her websites (above). Winners are announced in each newsletter, which now has content for writers, readers, poets and dreamers. (That means you!)