When Carol Tice and I asked our readers what held them back from either breaking in or making it big in freelance writing in prep for our webinar, Breaking In & Making It Big, neither of us expected the number of question that could be labeled fear.
Carol does a good job of giving you the flavor of the comments and give some darn good answers in her post called How To Ruin Your Writing Career.
Looking back over my own career I remember clearly how afraid I was. For example:
- I would literally sneak into different bookstores to buy Writer’s Market every year for fear someone might think I was trying to be a writer. (Yeah, I was that self-obsessed in those days.)
- To complete my first submissions to magazines I had to drive to a different town to slip the envelopes in a mail box – again, I was afraid someone might suspect I was trying to write. I knew it was crazy, but I told myself if that’s what I had to do, I’d do it. I did and I was frightened the whole way. I chuckle about that today.
- When the rejection slips came in via my SASEs it took me a couple of days to open them and confirm what I already suspected. But I did get them open.
In the getting and opening those well deserved rejection slips something happened. I’d faced the worst. No one made fun of me. The rejection letters were standard and did not contain a hand-written note saying “don’t ever submit anything to anyone again.” I didn’t die. I actually posted both rejection slips on my bedroom wall because I dimly sensed I had broken through to something positive.
My fear about rejection or people making fun, or who knows what didn’t stop, but I also didn’t let it stop me from writing and submitting. I got lots of rejections, but, because I kept at it I got some acceptances too.
The first ‘big’ one came from a respected publisher who wanted the booklet I had proposed. I got the call at my then day job and shook for maybe an hour, or so it seemed. I was scared to death. Of what I’m still not sure – success, failure, who knows, and it didn’t matter. I got the booklet written and submitted to the editor who had called on time.
And so it went.
I didn’t blast through my fear as some self-help gurus seem to suggest can be done, but I did find ways to write and submit in spite of it. Of course, with each success, it got easier, except when it didn’t.
I rarely experience fear around writing these days. Of course, I’ve had some continuing success. I’ve also done some work to increase my self-worth, and I’ve gotten older. All of it works together I find, but it started when I kept writing and submitting no matter how afraid I was.