“There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.”
Here’s what a friend said of Teddy: “…by constantly forcing himself to do the difficult or even dangerous thing,” he learned to cultivate courage as “a matter of habit, in the sense of repeated effort and repeated exercise of will-power.”
Early in life, Teddy mastered a powerful truth: pretending is the first step to mastery. “Act as If and you shall become” — this saying packs a powerful punch and it’s something to bear in mind as we write. Teddy Roosevelt learned that he could overcome his fears by acting as if he weren’t afraid through repeated efforts that soon became a matter of habit. We can use this same technique not only to overcome any fears that we may have, but also to master any aspect of our writing that we feel is underdeveloped. Just consider the five steps that Teddy appears to have used:
1) He acknowledged his shortcoming openly and honestly.
2) He acted as if he had already overcome it.
3) He forced himself to confront situations that called for the
quality he wanted to cultivate.
4) He did this repeatedly until it became a habit.
5) He accepted that the change he wanted would be gradual.
As we ponder this process, here’s some helpful advice from another famous Roosevelt, Eleanor: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Write on!