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Fear of Money and Success In Freelance Writers

A couple of years ago someone asked if I had ever written about freelance writers, the fear of success and underearning problems.

I hadn’t, so I started asking other writers I know.  I saw some themes, including fear of success, fear of talking about money, fear of making money, confusion about how to handle money, how to save, etc. etc. etc.

Obviously, not every freelance writer has a fear of success or a fear of making money – far from it. But several people, including me, identified with at least unease when it comes to thinking, talking and taking action about money.

Money and Self Esteem

I don’t know how it happens, but for many of us, money – our ability to earn it, our right to have it, our very thinking about the whole subject – gets hooked to our self-esteem or self-worth. Generally, at some deep level, we don’t think we’re enough, or we don’t think we’re deserving. Some of this stinking thinking, maybe even most, probably comes out of childhood; other pieces come from society’s messages about self-worth and money.

For the freelance writer, this lack of true self esteem often results in:

  • not recognizing and accepting our talents as writers
  • not charging enough for our work
  • not following through with invoicing and other money management necessities
  • not following through with potential clients

Any of these symptoms, and many more, result in under earning, also known in some circles as self-debting.

You Are Not Alone With Money Crazies

If money makes you crazy, the first thing to recognize is you’re not alone! You’re not crazy, either, although it sure can feel like it sometimes.

Implicit in recognizing you’re not alone is also the acceptance that you’ve got a problem. Denial, or waiting for the big score won’t solve it. Fortunately, once you’ve identified and begun to accept the problem, there are some real solutions available.

The Problems Are Solvable

There are all sorts of approaches to lack of self-worth and it’s resultant money problems. Sometimes just naming it and talking it through with a close friend is enough to create a shift. Often, however, more specific action is required.

An approach I like is through either Debtors Anonymous and/or Underearners Anonymous. Both are 12 Step Programs. DA doesn’t deal only with debt, but also addresses debt causes and underearning is certainly one cause of debt; UA recognizes that underearning and debt tend to go hand-in-hand. Both have a good selection of telephone meetings as well as face-to-face meetings.

Professional help is also available and can certainly be worth the price. And there are professional counselors who are well equipped to help you deal with money issues. Ask for counselors with that focus and make sure they are comfortable handling their own money. Many churches and other spiritual organizations offer either counseling or classes aimed at solving money problems.

Fear of money, fear of success, self-esteem and self worth issues won’t go away simply by wishing they would… I know. I tried that unsuccessful approach for a long time. Then I reached out for some help. Reaching out, however you choose to do it, is the solution. My suggestion is simply go for it.

Maybe not so by the way, there’s a whole category here called Money Issues.

You turn: Do you see the connection between poor self-worth and low income in freelance writing? Have you ever wondered if you’re worth what you charge? Or have you been concerned you’re not charging enough? Share with us in comments.


Photo by Mateusz Stachowski from http://www.sxc.hu

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • CNS

    Thank you for the article, it was eye opening and on time.


  • D

    Thank you for this article and including the link to UA.

  • NR

    Thanks for this.

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