Laurent DupervalCongratulations to Laurent Duperval for Winning the November 2021 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

It’s a good time of year to celebrate gratitude. What are you grateful for that your Barefoot Writing career has already brought you — even if you’re brand new to writing?

Laurent underwent a challenging experience… and came out ahead. Find out how with his winning submission:


A few years ago, I wanted to succeed as a professional speaker. It didn’t work out.

Around that time, I sang in a choir, and I quit.

I also used to sing while accompanying myself on a guitar. I stopped that, too.

I no longer found satisfaction from those activities, so I gave up doing them… and shut down part of myself in the process.

But I didn’t realize it until Bootcamp 2021.

I attended my first Bootcamp this year. I expected to be fired up and rarin’ to go… with endless ideas and a plan to hurl my business into the stratosphere.

That ain’t what happened.

The immediate Bootcamp effect wasn’t joy. Instead, I sank into a deep funk.

I had trouble organizing my thoughts.

I was unable to settle down and write anything worthwhile.

Reading on LinkedIn and Facebook how others had newfound energy and success after Bootcamp felt like a punch in the gut.

Why wasn’t I feeling that same energy and forward push?

It culminated in embarrassing fashion a few weeks ago.

I’m part of the first cohort of Ilise Benun’s Get Ready for Opportunity (GRO) business incubator program. In our next-to-last Zoom call, I broke down and cried while explaining what I’d been going through the previous few weeks.

I finally realized that for the past six or seven years, I had completely shut down a part of me. Sadly, it’s probably one of my strongest skills: public speaking.

I deliberately avoided anything that required me to express myself in public using my voice.

The writer’s life has allowed me to start expressing myself again by using words on a page.

My writing process always begins with my voice. I use voice transcription on most of the first drafts I write. I find that it helps me have a more conversational tone.

But I only used that voice in the comfort of my office.

I only started using my voice in public again when a friend asked me to co-host a radio show last year.

During the summer of 2021, I took over the show and held the helm on my own.

This fall, I started singing in a choir again.

The guitar… Well, that will have to wait. Baby steps, as Ilise says!

It took Ted Capshaw’s closing remarks at Bootcamp to loosen the final boulder that has been weighing me down for such a long time.

I channeled Ted on my last GRO call, where, for the first time in years, I was able to explain confidently and out loud what I wanted my future to be.

Most of what we do as copywriters involves putting words on a page, and that writing process has allowed my voice to shine once again.

Even with people listening to me.

It may not sound like much, but it opens up a world of possibilities. 

The writer’s life helped me regain my confident speaking voice.