Writers: You Never Know How Strong You Are Until Being Strong Is the Only Choice You Have

how strong you areLife is full of challenges. Sometimes they are minor, like trying to explain to your children (for the thirteenth time) why they can’t have a puppy because you don’t want the responsibility (“But Mom, we promise we’ll walk it and feed it and play with it—you won’t have to do a thing!”).

Sometimes the challenges are much more, well, challenging.

Like mourning the passing of a loved one, or receiving another rejection letter for the piece you poured your heart and soul into, or suffering a stroke at age 12. Those are the types of challenges that can send us over the edge if we don’t know how to consciously access our resilience.

If we access our personal power, we can overcome just about anything. #adversity #challenge #writers Click To Tweet

Maybe it has something to do with the alignment of the moon and the stars—who really knows?—but I feel like the past week has been a particularly challenging one for many of the bloggers I follow. Phillip McCollum wrote about a writer’s paralysis in “I’m Not Good Enough” (includes a great Ira Glass quotation, too); Hermania Chow discussed self-esteem in “5 More Things Writers Need to Stop Doing”; J. Keller Ford shared her perplexing relationship with her adult daughter in “A Demon of the Past Is Destroying the Present and I’m the Scapegoat . . . Again.”

We often beat ourselves up over what we didn’t do, what we “should” have done instead. I’m always reminded of my late mother when I hear the word “should.” She would remind me that, in her opinion, it is one of the most useless and debilitating words in the English language. Think about that for a moment, and ask yourself if the “shoulds” in your life are keeping you from being your best self.

“I should let the kids have that puppy.”

“I should be writing.”

“I should be able to get through the day without being sad about Dad’s passing—it’s been a year, after all.”

“I should have finished by now . . . should be more established as a freelance writer . . . should be able to write a blog post every day . . .” Yes, we can “should” ourselves into feeling like failures, but by consciously accessing our resilience, we can stop listening to those negative voices and turn our challenges into character-building markers.

I was prompted to write this post when I received an email yesterday from Patricia O’Gorman, the author of The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power. After her own especially challenging week, Dr. O’Gorman was more than thrilled to receive a great review for her book, which reminded her that no matter what happens to us, if we access our personal power, we can overcome just about anything. There is something in this book for every man, woman, and child who ever suffered from self-doubt.

The book’s reviewer (from MyShelf.com) wrote:

There is a test to see where you fall on the resilience scale. Take it, it really is informative. O’Gorman’s words are empowering.

You will really get a lot out of this book and want to pass it on. But be sure to put your name in it, because you will definitely want it back to refer to later when you start thinking your ‘girly thoughts’!”

I hope you’ll take my mom’s advice and lose the “shoulds” in your life. You are strong and resilient, and even when you’re having a bad day (or two or three), remember: you are stronger than you think you are.

Yes, you are.

Now go out there and have an amazing week!

Happy Writing,


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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

11 thoughts on “Writers: You Never Know How Strong You Are Until Being Strong Is the Only Choice You Have”

  1. “Should” is a word I am trying to eliminate from my vocabulary. Funny how berating our selves is so easy to do and so difficult to stop. Thank you for the reminder we are all beautiful souls in our own way. All we have to do is see it.

  2. Thanks for the Monday morning encouragement, Candace! Have a wonderful week.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.”
    ~ Mark Twain

    1. I have the same problem, Jill. No matter how much I accomplish, I tend to think about the things I “should” have been able to do. It’s just a bad habit and one I’m working to break.

  3. Great piece, Candace and thank you so much for the pingback.

    I like to think of “should” as a really sharp knife. If we use it correctly, it can be to our advantage and help us slash through the ties that bind us. It can help us recognize where we’re falling behind, not compared to others, but in our own abilities.

    Too often though, we’re careless with the word and instead of cutting those ties, we cut ourselves. We let the comparisons to other people overwhelm us, noting every single way in which we’ve failed and are not worthy to continue on.

    With all that being said, I think using the word correctly takes a strong sense of confidence and, at least in the beginning, most of us are better off keeping it in the drawer. 🙂

  4. Years ago I had a professor who frequently admonished his students to not “shoulda” yourself. In the time we spend saying we “shoulda” done this or “shoulda” done that, we “coulda” gotten something else done. Thanks for the posts and the links and for reminding us of our own resiliency (I do love that word).

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