7 Lessons I learned from the Bronte Sisters

Bronte Shelfie

  • You Don’t Need A Masters Degree to be a great Writer

    Charlotte, Anne and Emily were primarily educated by what we today would call independent studies. Through books and pure determination with a little help from their father they achieved a level of education above that of most women and indeed most men of their day. In fourth grade I formed the opinion that really smart people don’t need University that anything you want to know you can learn from books and from experience. The lives of these three great women confirmed my belief

  •  those Deemed as ordinary by others can turn out to be the most extraordinary

    As an ordinary girl from a blue collar family who happened to love reading, books and visual arts I find great comfort that three completely ordinary girls turned out to be quite extraordinary writers. I’m well past my girlhood but maybe, if I work very hard and show a particle of the Bronte’s grit and determination I may yet create a body of work that will touch hearts.

  • The importance of having a supportive but honest critique group

    The Bronte’s may have been socially isolated as a family but they did not work in individual isolation. They took their writing seriously. They would meet in the evenings to share their progress and evaluate each other’s work. By all accounts these were not sessions of pampering each other’s vanity, knowing that flattery would not move them towards publication. Today when seeking a beta reader or writing partner I strive to find someone equally supportive and honest who will say what needs to be said to take my manuscript to the next level.

  • Appearance, height, charisma or family connections are not necessary to literary success

    By all accounts the Bronte sisters, Charlotte in particular, were small in stature, unremarkable in appearance. They were quiet to the point of being reclusive. Their Father was a minister of no distinction. Their brother, who was deemed the most talented, the most promising among them, ended life a drug addict and alcoholic. And they suffered a variety of chronic health problems. No one would have picked them as wells of creative genius and yet they were.

    I too am a short woman of unremarkable appearance who has strong sympathy with recluses and lacks charisma. I battle chronic illness. I was never considered by her family to have more than usual talent.   And finally my family is utterly ordinary though thankfully all my brothers lead well moderated lives and are a source of pride rather than humiliation. The Bronte sisters’ example reminds me to take heart and keep trying.

  • Determination and persistence pay off

    The three sisters did not give up when their father was unenthusiastic. They did not give up because they were women. They did not give up due to sickness, or poverty or the demands of their brother. They did not give up in the face of rejection by publishers. They did not give up in the face of negative literary reviews. With every knock back and set back they picked themselves up, brushed off the dust and tried a different tactic. And in the end they were triumphant. How grateful all of us are for their determination and persistence.

  • Write, write, write

    Most importantly and above all else Charlotte, Anne and Emily teach us to write. When you have the drive to write then write. When you have a story to tell then write. Write every day whether you feel like writing or not. When the world and all who are in it seem to be against you, write. Write for yourself. Write to amuse those you love. Write to release the pain and anguish within you. Write to touch the lives of others. And last but not least, Write to support yourself. 

  • Writing for money does not cheapen your Art

The Bronte sisters did not seek publication with high moral aims. They sought publication because they were looking down the barrel of destitution. Economic woes are a great motivator to keep you submitting your work. Sometimes lack of money is the only factor great enough to overcome your fear of rejection put your work out there.

The more I write on the subject the more lessons I realize I can learn from Charlotte, Anne and Emily but I will stop at 7 a nice not round number.

From the first time I learnt about them as individuals I felt a kinship with these women and a desire to show myself as persistent in life as they were. Like thousands of others I am grateful they refused to fall in to obscurity.






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