6 Freelance Writing Fears & How To Overcome Them

by Anne Wayman

overcoming the fear of writingI’ve known Susan (not her real name) for three or four years. We’re close enough so I figured I knew her pretty well. That’s why I was surprised when she called yesterday to ask for the address of this blog. I gave it to her and asked her what was up.

With obvious trepidation she told me she’d always wanted to write but found the whole thing so scary she had waited this long to even be willing to even look at my blog.

Now I do know her to be articulate, with a better education than mine – she’s got a degree. She’s widely read and curious. Except for the degree she’s got the qualities I think are necessary for successful freelance writing and the degree won’t hurt, it’s just not necessary.

I started to say something banal about she needn’t be afraid, ya da ya da ya da. Then I remembered how long it took me to even attempt to write.


The family story is that I started talking about wanting to be a writer in the 6th grade. I don’t quite remember it that way, but I do know I would buy Writer’s Market in a different store each year in case someone remembered me. I didn’t want anyone to think I wanted to be a writer. (Talk about self-centered thinking!) I was 32 before I dared make my first submission.

Here are the myths people who are afraid to even try writing tend to tell themselves, and their solutions.

I don’t know what to write. Ideas are literally everywhere. Pick one and write about it. Get a copy of Writer’s Market and as you read through it make a list of the ideas it sparks – pick one and write about it.

I don’t know how to write. No one was born knowing how to write for publication, or how to write at all. It’s a learnable skill. Chances are if you speak English (or the language you want to write in) well and you are curious and read often, you write well enough. You need to write for your writing to improve – so write. You can find a ton of resources on the web to improve your writing – they all involve writing. (Are you detecting a theme here?)


I’m afraid they will reject me. They will – so what? Every single writer you’ve ever heard about or read has been rejected – why should you be different? Treat rejection as a celebration and an opportunity to learn and write and submit some more.

But I don’t have any credits. Again, no one is born with writing credits. You may have some from school or volunteer work. If not, create a few articles as samples – if they are well written they will lead to published credits. You build up your resume or credit list an article at a time. But unless you write nothing will happen.

I don’t know what to charge. Ah, this is an exception to the you’ve got to write rule. You can check Writer’s Market which lists typical fees. You can also read the Setting Fees category here. Pick a number and charge that. See what happens. It will either be accepted or it won’t. Do it again, and again.

I love writing but I hate marketing. How do you know you hate it? What have you tried? For example, marketing can be quite simple. Mostly you’ve got to experiment and find out what you will do and put it in practice so it can work.

The bottom line is if you want to be a successful writer you’ve got to quit giving into your fears. You’ve got to write and submit or market and write. It simply won’t get done any other way.

What are you willing to do to let go of your fear? What have you done?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny February 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Great tips… I think it’s important for someone starting out, to build confidence by writing on topics they’re very comfortable with initially, then increase the span slowly as experience builds…
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annew February 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Makes sense, although even beginning writers can stretch a bit.

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Tim February 2, 2012 at 1:42 am

As one who does not really have a flair for writing, I can really appreciate your tips for becoming more comfortable with the process. I will say that with the advent of the computer, word processing programs, spell checkers, etc., writing has become a lot easier that it once was.
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annew February 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Tim writing simply may have become easier, but spell checkers and grammar checkers are often wrong – in some ways it’s more difficult just because of those things.

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Elizabeth West February 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Rejection means you’re trying and putting stuff out there. If you are getting feedback with your rejection, that’s even better. It tells you what you need to work on. Yes, it sucks, but you NEED that to grow as a writer. So rejection can be a very good thing.
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annew February 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Exactly… stretching out of your comfort zone, etc.

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Tammi Kibler February 1, 2012 at 12:16 am

I keep trying to remember that every rejection is an affirmation that I tried, which puts me ahead of everyone else still in thrall to their fears.

Thanks for this post. It helps me see how far I have come.
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annew February 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Yes, Tammi, seeing our own progress is great. Glad the article works for you.

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Marie Pinschmidt January 31, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Excellent article. Fear is a killer of creativity.

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annew February 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Wow, look at your paintings! And some books too – I’m impressed.

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Ellen January 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Great article. I like the idea of “Treat rejection as a celebration”. Now I just have to submit some proposals so I can reach the celebration/rejection stage. :)
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annew February 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

Yeah, you’ve got to submit in order to either sell or get rejected.

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Toni Star January 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Wonderful article on writing fears. I especially like your last paragraph on marketing. Good advice for anyone beginner and advanced..

Toni Star
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annew February 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

Glad you liked it Toni.

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