By Janice McCaffrey

I’ve been stuck in my writing, avoiding it at any cost. You know the drill: scrubbing floors, sorting closets, and perfecting files. After months of avoidance, I decided to reflect on reasons. As a social worker I learned that most of our negative behaviors are based on fears. What fears are stopping my writing, I wondered?

The word “critique” gets my heart racing and palms sweating. Rejection. That’s it. Rejection is the fear I need to overcome. I need to become a writing risk taker.

To begin the journey I looked back through the years and identified risk takers I’ve admired. Two sit on the top of my list:

Shawn White (Olympic gold snowboarder),

and currently, JB Mauney (professional bull rider).

What makes these two guys stand out for me?

  • They believe they can do whatever they can think up – they set goals not just to win, but to be the best.
  • They hone their skills–practicing with purpose.
  • They’re not quitters–they keep on even after serious physical injuries.
  • And they have fun doing what they do best.

JB Mauney is a two-time World Champion Professional Bull Rider and THE # 1 Fan Favorite. He believes he can stay on the back of any bull for 8 seconds, he practices between competitions, when he has a choice he picks the rankest bull available, he never gives up, and it’s obvious that he’s having fun.

Because of these qualities he is exciting to watch. Whenever JB enters a chute the audience ignores the popcorn and drink vendors, united in watching and wondering, “Will he ride this one?” When JB sits on the back of a bull, I’m on my feet, mesmerized as he fights to hang on. I have to remind myself to breathe. Yes, it’s a downer if he doesn’t stick the full 8 seconds, but when he does all witnesses are smiling and cheering.



Yes, even home alone watching TV, I jump up and down, clap, smile ear to ear, and shout, “Woo Hoo! Yes, JB, I knew you could do it!”

Determined to be a risk taking writer, I took my first page to Montana Women Writers’ March meetings’ first impression activity. I did, however, spend most of the two hours talking myself into actually sharing it. Listening to others’ first pages and participating in critiquing each was not only fun, but informative. Finally, it was asked, “Did anyone else bring a first page to read?” Hesitantly my arm went up.

I thought, if JB can get on the rankest bulls, I can overcome my fear of rejection and read my writing to these good women. I stepped into my fear and read. Immediate, positive comments filled the room. Woo Hoo! echoed through my mind, I’m a writing risk taker! I happily noted the suggested changes and the really good news is since my debut, I’ve written more consistently. So, like the risk takers I admire, I have set a goal, I’m honing my skills through practice, I’m committed and will not quit, and, thanks to my fellow authors, I’m having fun.

Thank you, Montana Women Writers.