I’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?
Write well and often,