How to Stop Fear from Getting Between You and Your Writing Career
A few years ago, I was talking to my career counselor at my university. I was at a point where I was trying to figure out the answer to the question that almost every English Language and Literature major was asking — what can I really do with my life?
I remember the advisor listening to my discouraged babble about not being sure if I wanted to be an editor or just an author. So, after a few moments, she merely suggested that I should open a blog and see where it goes.
I said “great!” and immediately opened a WordPress blog, ready to write some sentences on a page and watch my writing career begin to flourish.
But then I began researching and reading on starting a career on something I loved like writing. It was then that fear stopped me from pressing the publish button on my first article that I spent so much time writing and revising. Four years later, I was still struggling with the same fear.
If you’re like me, then you probably already decided that you’re going to commit to your new writing career. You probably opened a Medium account or made your own website, but still haven’t sat down to type your first article. Or maybe you already wrote a few, but now you’re just mentally stuck due to that nagging bug called “fear” crawling in your mind every time you wake up in the morning.
This fear is due to a lot of different reasons. In your case, it could be that you feel overwhelmed by all the marketing and business aspects of freelance writing. Or it could be that you think you aren’t good enough to be a writer. But the funny thing with fear is that it prevents us from doing what we want to do so that when time passes, we get even more fearful of doing that very same thing.
And although fear was given to us to keep ourselves from actual dangerous situations. As writers, we don’t have to settle for letting it dictate our goals and stop our future success.
So here are just some ways in which you can overcome your fear of writing.
Stop Looking at Others
We all know the fear that comes with comparisons. Every day many of us look online, whether on YouTube, Instagram, or even your own family and friends and wonder when you’re going to get a life such as theirs. I know the many “New Apartment Tour” videos that come up on my subscriber feeds make me side-eye my own living space.
But comparisons can also spark from the articles we read. For example, How this and that writer making $15,000 in a week or, better yet, becoming a bestselling author in a day!
Don’t get me wrong, Medium is a great place, and I learned so much about my own writing from its many talented authors and entrepreneurs. But that can also lead to unfair comparisons that we may put on ourselves. These comparisons eventually then lead to fear about your uncertain future in writing.
Will I get where they are? Will I ever be able to support myself and my family?
But what you need to know is that not everybody’s journey in writing will be the same. All our writing careers are like different books on a shelf. Some books may be easier to get through, and some may be harder, but I promise you that eventually, you will reach your end goal.
In order to not let the fear of comparison stop you from writing your next article, you need to accept your personal journey and keep with it. Don’t look at where anyone else is. Your path is made for you to take it and the white pages of your chapters are ready to be written by you.
Take only the guidance and expertise of the writers that are ahead of you so that you won’t stumble in the dark when difficult times come. Or when you need to finally learn how to dive into more advanced SEO tips, marketing strategies, or publishing opportunities to grow your writing business.
But until then, be focused on yourself.
Stop Looking at Yourself
I know it doesn’t sound very good of me to say this after just telling you to focus on yourself. But when I say to stop looking at yourself, what I mean is that you should stop looking at your faults in either your writing or any other criticism you have about your skills, which affects your productivity.
I know, you probably already heard the age-old response to “just change your mindset!” But I cannot stress how important that is. There are a lot of things that you probably criticize yourself for, like:
- Believing you’re not as good of a writer that you need to be.
- Having to immediately choose the perfect niche that you’re passionate about but also will be profitable (which is hard when you think that you’re not an expert in anything)
- Stressing out because you don’t have an already vast network of people on LinkedIn while so many other freelance writers do
While I know that these things are essential in the long run to an extent, I also believe that stressing over these aspects will only affect not only your productivity but also your writing habits, creativity, and passion.
In her book, Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, author and business coach, Mandie Holgate, wrote that when you have unrealistic expectations from yourself and others, it will only hinder your success. She states that the result is that you “find yourself doing things that you don’t want to do, working on things that you don’t enjoy, towards goals that don’t fulfill you.”
So, what do you do about this? Well, first, you just have to block out the negative thoughts about yourself. There is no use rating your writing abilities or your future writing business from “failure” to “success.”
Right now, only think about what makes you happy. What do you want to write about? It’s okay to not jump into a niche you know you’re probably not going to want to write about in the next ten years or write in a genre that you probably don’t like. Instead, ask yourself, what do you want people to know about you and your experiences?
Remember why you wanted to write in the first place. Find your passion again and hold on to it. Know that you’re capable of being a great writer, and don’t let yourself or anyone tell you any differently.
Just be 1% Better Every Day
Finally, when you get past the mindset that has kept you from finally taking that giant leap to a writing career, one of the first things that you need to do is put in the work. But if you’re like me, then that work is so overwhelming that it feels like I’m trying to be a brain surgeon or an astronaut.
Getting started on the work is always the most challenging part for many people. The to-do list for setting up a writing career seems to have many steps like making a website, finding a publisher, making a Fiverr account, creating a social media marketing plan, and, of course, writing! That beast is enough to make many of us push sitting in front of our empty word document until tomorrow or next week.
And it’s okay to have all those things on your to-do list. After all, productivity starts with an organized plan. But make sure that you’re not substituting this list to procrastinate your writing because that will only delay your writing and foster more counterproductive mindsets that held you back in the beginning.
First, focus on your writing, which is the most crucial task of a writer, of course. And then, use that list to do something small every day.
How do you do this? By building your own writing habits.
Make your writing career into a daily routine. Take tasks, big or small, and carve out a time where you do a little of that task every day. Even if that means that you have to break down that task into smaller parts, spreading it throughout a couple of days. Eventually, these efforts will not only get any overwhelming work done, but it will ultimately help you develop a writing habit.
Make sure that you’re putting these time blocks in your daily routine. Even stack them with other things like waking up, then eating, then brainstorming topics for articles for ten minutes. For me, I like to write right before dinner, since I read after I eat. I also make sure that I put on some lo-fi music to help me shut distractions and focus on my writing.
But whatever way you build your routine, make sure you progress every day towards your writing goals. Or else, you will be in the same boat a month or two from now.
I opened this blog because I not only wanted to help give writers some confidence to start their writing careers but also because I wanted to do the same for myself.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not a successful freelance writer yet. I don’t have a writing business that I can wave around to the community to show my expertise in writing. All I have is my English Language and Literature degree, which taught me a lot about building your own perfect writing habit for success.
But more than that, I am someone who has gone through writing fears that prevented me from doing the best I could in the past. I taught myself how to build writing habits, and I wanted to give any advice that I learned or learn along the way to fellow writers. And possibly, we can come together to discuss our newbie experiences and provide encouragement to those who are also new to the writing career.