I was searching for my word of the year when it came to me…

in the middle of a yoga practice.

The instructor was talking about “power.” One definition she gave was “having nothing to prove.”

I’d actually never heard the word “power” described this way. And I loved it.

Usually, I think of having nothing to prove as being a form of acceptance. And “acceptance” seems kind of…passive to me. But to think that having nothing to prove is an act of power?

As writers, it kind of feels like we’re constantly having to prove something—mostly, our own value. We have to find some way to prove to editors or agents that we’re someone worth investing in.

We also often attempt to prove ourselves to others who don’t really get what we do. Who don’t understand what an all-consuming job writing really is. We’ve all gotten those condescending, “Must be nice to hang around in your pjs all day” comments.

Or—even worse—the “Well, I’ve never heard of your books.”

Who doesn’t feel the urge to prove that book achieved its own level of success (was a finalist on a Master List, received a starred review, etc.)?

At times, I know I’ve felt as though I’m constantly striving to get to the next place, the next level. To prove I am a worthy writer. I am someone an editor should invest in. I do have a real career, not wads of play time.

But I suddenly realize how much I can reclaim in my own life by saying, “Actually, I don’t have to prove any of those things—all I have to do is simply be who I am, strive to be my best, and trust that the right people will recognize my worth; I won’t have to beg them to see it.”

Yes—I have nothing to prove.

There really is power in that.


  1. You nailed it Holly. When I was taking an industrial psychology course back in the early 1980s, the professor did a class on belief and what he said stayed with me. In essence, we need to argue when we're not comfortable with our belief in a certain thing. If we truly do believe, we can nod, smile and let the other person spin their verbal wheels. That bit of wisdom would fit very nicely with your 2018 word.

  2. I love thinking of the word "power" in this way too, Holly. Thank you for giving me something to thing about.

  3. I love this, Holly. It actually came up for me recently (in music, not writing), when I was tempted to "prove" myself on a song that a band I'm in is playing by playing the difficult version. I finally told my guitar teacher (who's great!) that I decided not to fall on my sword, because I don't have to prove anything to anyone. He said, "Cool. Who said that?" Me: "I did. I'm a writer." :-)

  4. I've heard karma described in the same way. People with no stars in their house of karma have nothing to prove. With that, comes freedom, which is the ultimate power, I believe. Thank you for this excellent post!


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