She didn’t make excuses. Neither should you.

Maya Angelou, a poet laureate with something like 30 honorary doctoral degrees, probably had a wicked bucket list.

In the wake of her death, her name is trending across social media, proving writers and poets alike can be household names. People I didn’t know as readers posted about her today, making me realize how incredible the writing world is.

How many Maya Angelou quotes did you read today?

Writers get to tell their stories, in any way they want. And somebody somewhere halfway across the world reads and connects with their messages.

If writing is on your bucket list, it’s time to put down your fear and pick up a pen. Or laptop. Or a McDonald’s napkin and crayon. It doesn’t really matter how you get it done, as long as you stop lying and ignoring your desire. In the words of an icon:

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

You can sit and think about writing. You can dream about it. Talk about it. But if you don’t work at it, you’re never going to get it done.

Angelou faced an early lifetime of complications and struggles. She worked as a nightclub dancer, cook and stripper before making it as a journalist. Did she use her youth as an excuse to quit chasing dreams? No. She instead taught us that:

“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”

Committing time to your craft is hard. So are the days you don’t feel the words flowing. And everyone has their own circumstances, their own home lives, making their dreams seem impossible. Nobody said writing was easy. Finishing your manuscript, your book of poetry, your first education analysis is possible once you commit to making it happen.

She didn’t make excuses because of her past or problems. Neither should you.

Yes, it’s scary. We all know internet trolls like to leave one star reviews and anonymous comments. Maybe your book doesn’t make the Amazon best sellers list. So what? Is that enough of a reason to stop yourself from pursuing your dream? At the end of the day, would you rather write your book or sit in fear of failure?

One thing is for sure, you’re more of a failure if you do nothing than you are if you do something with results you don’t love. It takes courage to make the leap. Without courage, we cannot chase our dreams. If you don’t trust me, trust Angelou, who prompted and encouraged, outlined and created this post today.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

P.S. Get off your ass. Write now.

Confessions of a Dirty Blonde: Capo breaks bad

Yesterday, my husband asked me to unfollow him on Twitter because he doesn’t want his followers to see how much I swear. His account is for business, after all.

So I thought, Well, fuck me.

And then I remembered the No. 1 Reason I work for myself: to avoid asshats who tell me I swear too much, obviously.

But do you know the No. 2 Reason I work for myself? I can hire anyone I want.

Welcome Lindsay Capobianco. The latest and greatest editor to pull up her skirt and break out the red pen. And our first new addition since last summer when Scott Southard came aboard. Bonus? She likes my swearing.

Capo, as I like to call her, just broke out of prison (read: former high school English teacher). She’ll be contributing to your delinquency twice a month.

Enter “Confessions of A Dirty Blonde.” It’ll hit your inbox every other Thursday, starting in June – assuming you’re subscribed to our awesomeness (upper right-hand corner of this page).

But, Becky, what the hell is ‘Confessions’?

A column. About writing shit Lindsay wishes she could have taught in the classroom. And other things – of no fucking value – she was forced to teach about writing and editing. The standard rules holding writers back and how habitually following them only makes it harder to break free. (Think misused words, the fucking thesaurus, semicolons, paragraph length, story structure, five-paragraph essays, lead ins and outs, hooks…from the perspective of someone who taught it.)

Look for it next month. And read below to learn all about her.

Lindsay says

In four weeks, I’m packing up and taking home a life I built for myself more than eight years.

Goodbye, classroom. Hello, dream job.

This move is five years in the making. Back then, I started blogging anonymously and met my friend (and cohort) the badass editor and writing coach you and I have in common. (That’s you, Beck.) She was thinkingtoohard. I was searching for my future.

And I was going awesome places.

I was a semi-finalist for a

And a Shorty Award nominee. Twice.

I edited for the now-extinct-but-totally-awesome website for writers (RIP

I wrote for and was published in several books and websites under my pseudonym.

The year before Becky and I met, I left teaching to pursue a writing career. In a grey cubicle in the back of a lawyer’s office, I ghostwrote for any client I could, eating ramen noodles twice a day. I learned about SEO when it was young. I marketed myself on Facebook and Twitter.

And I feared my ability.

I didn’t trust my talent. So I ended up applying for another teaching job, hoping to regain my composure and a steady paycheck.

When the school year began and ghostwriting ended, I worked on becoming a better, more confident writer in my time outside of the classroom. Between teaching, coaching, grading and dating, I had little free time and too much stress. But I learned how to make a shitty first draft and go back to edit it (even if I could only work for fifteen minutes). I learned there’s more to life than comfort. And I learned I can’t break away from my desire to help, but I can do it outside of a high school classroom.

While I was forced to follow state standards and school policies, I learned about editing with honesty and compassion.

If you ever want to feel shitty, watch a seventeen year old football player cry because you told him his paper wasn’t up to standard.

If you ever want to make a difference, hand the dude a tissue and explain to him how he can grow as a writer.

Teaching shaped my career. My kids taught me more than I ever imagined. It’s now time for me to take those lessons and better my life with them. Which is why I started this journey with Becky more than a year ago.

Becky pushed me into her Write Raw Mastermind (only offered annually in the fall). I finished the first draft of my manuscript there, and I’m not looking back. So, when you struggle or sigh or fear your editor doesn’t understand what you’re going through, I don’t agree. I lived through it, too.

I’m a tough Italian girl, but I’m not a glutton for punishment. If I didn’t know I could do this, I wouldn’t put myself on the front line.

My first gift to you will help you save time and effort. If you Google my name, you’ll find three less-than-flattering pictures of me floating around the internet. You’ll find a handful of amateur articles I wrote in the beginning. And you’ll see my life as a teacher. I plan to continue saving you the much deserved time and effort in your writing career and our relationship.

Want to know more about me? Find me on Facebook. Or Twitter @IcedCapo. Or in Becky’s super-secret client group. We can play twenty questions. Or quarters. As long as you bring the cherry bourbon.

P.S. You’re on the list, right? Subscribe already. Jeesh. (Upper right-hand corner.)

P.P.S. Got an idea for a column? Leave it in the comments below.