It isn’t a lack of talent, bad luck or the cruel world that holds the majority of writers, bloggers and authors back. The biggest enemy to a writer is their own fear: the fear of rejection, being judged, going broke and being out of work for lengthy periods of time. The vast majority of writers have had to deal with all of these problems, and what separates the great from the good in this profession are the writers who overcome these fears.
From a personal standpoint, it wasn’t until I went to university to study Creative Writing and Journalism in 2009 – aged 28 – that I finally overcame my self-doubt and fear of rejection and started to put myself out there. As a result, my writing career has gone in all kinds of interesting directions, and I haven’t gone mad or broke yet.
Here are 15 reasons why your writing fears should never hold you back:
1. The sheer fact that you’re reading this shows that there’s nothing to stop you. I’m nothing special. I’m just prepared to keep trucking on, improving, and learning from my mistakes. That puts me ahead of those afraid to do the same. Don’t be one of those people!
2. There is money to be made – you just have to be prepared to find it. Go to local networking events, hand business cards out everywhere, and get your name out there any way you can. Be proactive, not reactive (as in reacting to going broke).
3. Don’t be afraid to turn down work. Low paying writing gigs can be turned down. It’s better to write a great piece for a website or publication that doesn’t pay but has a huge readership than it is to get paid peanuts for something no one will see and won’t look as good on your portfolio.
4. There are local, national and international businesses that would kill to have a writer to hand. Go out there and find them, and pitch your ass off.
5. Self-publishing is now legit – so you CAN get that 250,000 word science-fiction novel out there.
6. You are not alone. There are writers everywhere – online and offline – find them and discuss what’s getting you down. Chances are, there are 10,000 writers with the same problem, and they might have a solution for you to overcome it.
7. Rejection happens to everyone, even at the highest level. What’s the worst that can happen? Nobody is going to pull your pants down in front of a million people. It’s just a no. Imagine all the great work that wouldn’t have been created if everybody stopped trying after their first rejection. Bookshops, film studios and art galleries would be empty.
8. Mistakes can be fun, as long as you learn from them. I’ve made some epic mistakes. I’ve been screwed over for money, worked for content mills, been taken for a ride and lots more. But it’s only happened once, and only early in my career. I look back at these mistakes now and laugh about them. They should never hold you back.
9. Writers are in demand. We are crazy enough to want to do this for a living, and let’s face it: Most people aren’t. That means that everybody who picks up a pen has got a shot, so take it.
10. There are examples of lucky bastards everywhere. Nobody likes a sulky McSulky Pants. Whilst you’re moaning that nobody is reading your stuff, there’s a guy with less talent than you but who is prepared to put his head on the block who is stealing a march on you, and the guys who get lucky are the ones who put themselves out there, regardless of whether they’re a genius or not.
11. There is no set path to success. And that’s a beautiful thing. You’re free to write whatever you want to write, so do it and love every second of it.
12. You can write anything. Blogs, articles, business writing, white papers, research docs, social media posts, ghost-writing, press releases, presentations, speeches, online video scripts, film and TV scripts, editing, proofreading. The list goes on. Diversify!
13. Collaborators are all around you. Join forces with your restaurant owning buddy and offer to run his blog and social media campaigns. Write scripts for your filmmaking friends. Get in touch with local marketing companies and offer to freelance for them. The more you collaborate, the less time you have on your own to worry about your writing career.
14. There is always more time to find. It’s amazing how much more time you have for writing if you plan your days, weeks and months and stop procrastinating.
15. Everybody gets judged. It’s fine to be nervous about what people are going to say about you and your writing, but it’s a lot worse to not write at all. What good is that going to do you? Make yourself feel better and read some one-star reviews for classic films, TV series and books. Once you know that you can’t please everyone, the better you’ll feel.
This is a golden age for writers who are prepared to graft and are not paralysed by their own fears. Understand that beating these fears is an essential part of achieving any form of success in writing. For a great resource on writing fears, check out the brilliant Make a Living Writing, or read this post on using fear to fuel your writing on Writer’s Digest.
Keep fighting and keep writing!