Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

On Not Being a Coward

There’s a sign near my computer that says:


So, that’s what I’m off doing today, tomorrow, this week, and hopefully the weeks to come.

Trying not to be a coward, that is.

You see, a couple of weeks ago a new story idea came to me. At first, I tried to ignore it because it’s not like anything I’ve written before. It’s a little darker. It requires a lot of research. It’s for a slightly older audience. And the thought of starting it, well, seemed overwhelming.

I jotted down some notes, shoved them into my “ideas folder,” and continued on my light-hearted, humorous, middle-grade way.

But the idea wouldn’t let go.

It called and cajoled, and through circumstance and coincidence, dragged me back every time I thought I had moved ahead.

This weekend, I finally gave in. I wrote 832 words in the first half hour, and 1,232 in the next. And on and on. I could barely type fast enough to keep up with the narrator in my head.

Who knows where this story will lead? Likely it will trap me in some dead-end corner where it robs me of both time and sanity (and possibly the five bucks in my wallet), but I’m going to follow for as long as I can.

I’m sharing my sign with you today, because like that be-dazzled chicken-liver of a Cowardly Lion knew, everyone could do with an extra dollop of pluck and nerve to get through their days. 

For writing, yes.

But also for parenting.

That job at the office.

For mending relationships.

And breaking them.

For standing in line.

And charging through.

For crossing things off of your bucket list.

Your to-do list.

And surviving a weekend trip to Walmart.

Deep breath. Chin up. Sit down, get out, go to…and do whatever it is you need to do. 

Because you’re not a coward.



Do you have any helpful quotes/mantras/reminders displayed at your home or office?

This post was part of Get Inspired Monday! — a series created to help you dig into your week and find inspiration in unexpected places.

Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

58 thoughts on “On Not Being a Coward”

  1. Great post. And wow, you are experiencing a writing surge! I have several quotes on the wall next to my desk. They inspire me daily. One is from the lead in to “The Autobiography of Bob Marley.” It is attributed to Nernally, a Jamaican bush doctor:
    “Some mom jus deal wit information. And some mon he deal wit de concept of trute. And den some mon deal wit magic.
    Information flow aroun ya, and trut flow right at ya…
    …but magic, mon, it flow right through ya.”


  2. I don’t have any at home, but all over my computer in the form of posts and twitter quotes. My two favorites are: The more confessions you make, the more books you’ll sell–can’t remember who said it; it’s in my twitter feed favorites


    “I’m uniquely qualified to conquer my trials.”-that’s me!

    My all time favorite (of the moment) has to be my dad’s former signature to all of his emails: Move with the magic or miss the moment.

    Great post! I will try not to be a coward…a little more often!


  3. Oh, I can’t WAIT to see what you’ve written.

    I love this series so much. It always makes me feel a little more “go get ’em” on a Monday morning.


    1. Thank you, KLZ. I’m glad you like the posts. It helps me to write them, too.

      Although, I have some fabulous guest writers lined up beginning in March — my limbs feel slightly weak with the thought of what greatness they will bring to the series.


  4. I eat fear for breakfast. Tastes like chicken liver 🙂

    That’s great that you have a story bursting to get out. Grab that sucker by the neck and nail it to the page. I want to read anything you do, especially this direction you’ve described for this tale.


  5. It sounds like your idea is a lot like a kid begging for candy in the grocery check out line – if you don’t adress the pleas, they’ll get more annyoying. I’m glad you gave in to the idea’s nagging and are venturing into new territory. Good luck with it, Amanda!


  6. I love your computer sign! I’ve realized that “writer’s block” and procrastination are just other names for fear. I wrote about this exact thing just a couple of weeks ago!…have-to-fear-2/

    Sometimes when I work on a new story as I’m in the midst of doing now, I used to sneak up on the computer to avoid the fear. But now I try to face it head on. I’m trying!



    1. You are absolutely right about “writer’s block!” I agree 100%. I don’t get writer’s block. I sit and force myself to write something, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, but once I start, I can always keep going. 🙂


    2. Thank you, Jacquelin. (BTW — the link didn’t work for me, but I ended up finding the post anyway, and I agree!)

      I like your description of “sneaking up on your computer.” That’s the only way to do it sometimes, I think. 🙂


  7. Great post! As for me, I like to post quotes/question either on my computer’s desktop or next to my [furniture] desk, such as “Who/what do you want to be in the world?” and (my current desktop quote): “All I want to be is someone that makes new things and thinks about them.” They serve as good reminders without being deprecating.


  8. I love this sign. I saw a quote Bob Mayer tweeted the other day that I think will go in my living room: “People too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage yours.”

    My novella “Silver Thaw” came to me the way your story is. It was like nothing I’d ever written, and it was experimental for me in a lot of ways, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It’s good for us to do that sort of stuff on occasion. 🙂

    Great reminder about seizing life!


    1. Thank you, Amy! Love the Bob Mayer quote, too.

      I do agree that it’s good to take risks with our writing sometimes. So, even if nothing ever comes of this exercise for me, I’m happy I gave it a try. Glad things worked out for you with Silver Thaw.


  9. My motto that I display?

    You ask, my motto that I whisper only to myself?

    What are the words that get me going?

    What works the magic in me?

    “Get off your fat loser butt and DO SOMETHING ALREADY!”

    And, with that, I’m off..


  10. Ha! “It’s a little darker. It requires a lot of research. It’s for a slightly older audience.” That’s exactly what I felt like when I started my WIP. (Not the picture book, obviously!) I STILL feel like this. And it still makes me nervous and worried.’s also still a story I’m totally in love with. Hope that stays true for you, too. 🙂


  11. That’s good writing at its best; an idea that pulls itself out of you rather than being pushed and prodded along.


  12. I don’t have signs around my house, but I pick a quote I like every morning for my Facebook profile…usually something inspiring…

    Thoughtful post, Amanda…good luck with the new project!



  13. Good for you! Sounds intriguing. My favorite quote on fear is from the movie Strictly Ballroom: vivir con miedo es vivir a medias, or “a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” It’s not displayed, though, that space is taken up by all my comedian autobiographies, which serve the same purpose. And Bernie Mac used to start his stand-up show by roaring at his audience: “I ain’t scared of you!”

    Best of luck pursuing the writing streak!


  14. Great post, I really enjoyed it! I also need to practice being less of a coward. Way to go for it!

    I have a few quotes around my desk/computer, though they are not about writing, per se.

    One: “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” –Anne Frank
    Two: “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” –FDR
    Three: “Life is a fiesta…Eat it up!” –Local Mexican restaurant from around here, lol

    That’s all I got! Can’t wait to hear more about your writings, Amanda! 🙂


  15. I have a few signs by my writing desk, but I like one the best…

    “You’ve bought all the books. Now write one.”

    In other words, quit browsing through bookstores and my own bookshelf for all the tips/theories/charts on writing and just write already!

    Great post!

    Christi Corbett


  16. I never thought I would need stationary, material motivation, like your sign. But now I’m reconsidering. Because I love your sign. And I’m thinking these walls in my office need some decor, after all.

    Thanks for sharing!


  17. Great post, Amanda, and good advice. You say you don’t know where this new story will lead you. That reminds me of something I read once about the Coen brothers, who wrote “Fargo,” “Blood Simple” and a lot of other really good movies. The piece I was reading said the brothers don’t mind writing themselves into a corner. They’ll put away the manuscript for a few days or a few weeks, until they think of a way out. They figure that if it takes them that long to figure out what happens next, then there’s no way the audience will get ahead of them.


    1. Interesting story — I think the Coen brothers are fabulous, so it’s comforting to hear that even they run into road blocks. I hope that I’ll be able to come up with something to “get out of the corner” when the time comes, and that days or weeks don’t turn into, you know, forever. I would really stay ahead of the audience then.

      Thanks, Todd!


  18. I really love this post, Amanda. One, because I think it’s great you’re taking a chance, trying something new and going with instinct to see where it will take you. I really hope you’ll update us on your progress. Part of writing is growing, and it sounds like you’re in the middle of a spurt. But secondly, you’re right; so much of life takes courage, and you almost have to grab at that courage to make it stop and stay for a while.


  19. Thanks for this post. I love hearing others excited by their work.

    I don’t have a desk but if I did I’d litter its base with all the inspirational mantras and sayings I’ve come across throughout my years. All I’ve got is my blogger header, which I see every time I open my laptop. Unnecessary Noise Prohibited. So far it’s worked beautifully.


  20. A wonderful reminder to just do it, Amanda! I know the dread you feel when you know a story idea is knocking and you think you’re not ready to receive it!

    As for a quote, this is not really a quote, but a way of life in India (and probably in other countries in the East). The words may differ from place to place, but in essence, it says: “Whatever is mean to happen *will* happen. It won’t change just by your worrying about it.” As I grow older, I appreciate the liberating wisdom behind it all the more!


  21. With that big sign throwing down the gauntlet like that, how can I do anything else but write? It’s like it’s challenging me to fail, while inspiring me to do do exactly what I need. It motivates me through raw hatred for it and shame and, in the end, I know that it’s working.

    …huh, sort of like a father.


  22. When Elizabeth came to my workshop here on Whidbey Island to talk about her writing process, someone asked her if she could sum it up in one word. She said “ruthless”. What she meant was she works, whether she feels like it or not. She works hard. She’s ruthless with herself and I think that’s a key to success.



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