I’m not a writer. I’m not a writer.
I am not a writer.
I don’t know how many times I said that to myself before I came out of the writing closet and declared that I was a real author. I had been filled with self-doubt for years. How could I label myself as a writer? I’m not Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Amy Tan, or J.K. Rowling.
I’m just me.
So many of us hide behind our fear of failure that we never even try. We don’t even get past the starting line. Especially since our writing can be so personal that any rejection of our work feels like a punch in the gut. A simple “I don’t like this book” translates immediately into “I don’t like you.” We tend to jump to the worst case scenario in our heads, so we don’t even try.
But fear shouldn’t stop us from doing what we dream about. Instead, figure out what scares us the most and work on overcoming that one fear.
Don’t Define Success by Other Writers
Would I like to be as wildly successful as Gillian Flynn? Sure, but I won’t consider myself a failure if I don’t become a New York Times bestselling author. That’s setting the bar a bit too high.
Instead, we get to define what success means to us. For some, it’s just finishing our novel. Maybe it’s seeing our name on any Amazon list. Or maybe it’s figuring out a way to make a living writing because it’s our true passion. Regardless of what others say or expect, our goals ultimately belong to us.
We are the only ones that get to define our success, no matter how big or small it may be.
Use a Pen Name
One of the best things about being a writer is that we don’t even need to use our real name. Mark Twain was really Samuel Langhorne Clemens. J.K. Rowling used Robert Galbraith for a detective series she wrote after the Harry Potter series. And Ann Rice’s real name is actually Howard Allen Frances O’Brien.
If we are truly terrified of harsh judgment or personal criticism, we can always use a pen name. It’s an acceptable choice in the writing world. And no one ever has to know who is really the genius behind any work. (Note: if writing a piece of journalism, or for Elephant Journal, don’t use this approach!)
Selling e-Books Isn’t Technically Difficult
The self-publishing world has evolved into a writer’s dream come true. There is support and advice every step of the way, and we don’t need any special skills to learn the technical side of selling e-books online.
There are great sites that are dedicated to helping authors navigate self-publishing. In 23 Tools and Resources to Create and Sell e-Books, author Kristen Runvik sorts tools and resources into the following sections that cover every aspect of writing:
>> Writing and editing
>> Designing your eBook
>> Converting your eBook (depending on where you publish you’ll need to reformat)
>> Tools for selling
Ask Google how to design an e-book cover and find millions of helpful answers and resources. There are affordable editors, graphic designers, and writing courses that will guide us through the entire process. Basically, we should never feel alone on this journey. There’s plenty of help out there if we are brave enough to ask.
We Control Everything
Before self-publishing, we didn’t control anything. We were at the mercy of editors and publishing houses who made every decision, including whether or not to print our books.
Now, we control every single aspect of the writing process. We get to decide everything from the cover to what platforms we sell on. We get to choose the price and how to market the book. While it would be nice to have a professional publishing house beg us for our masterpiece, it’s not always a bad thing to be on our own. Plenty of self-published writers have found success without any leg-ups to start.
Don’t be afraid of the process. From start to finish, we control everything we do.
Blog Until You’re Ready to Make the Leap
Perhaps the biggest secret to overcoming our fear is to take tiny steps into the writing world. We don’t have to start out writing a novel. We can start out writing a 500-word blog post and build up our confidence until we feel ready to take the next step.
And once again, there is plenty of help out there for new bloggers. We can start by guest posting on others’ sites, start a free site of our own (using Tumblr, Blogger, or Medium), or set up our own WordPress site. We can share as much or as little as we want. Again, we’re in control, and we get to decide what gets published.
It’s an easy way to get feedback, experience, and confidence. Plus, we can build up our fan base for our eventual book launch!
Fear Isn’t Easy To Overcome, But It Is Possible
It’s very easy to say “get over it” or “you can do it!”
But genuinely overcoming our fears about becoming a writer can be difficult. I still remember the day that I said I was a real writer. It was a huge moment in my life. Jeff Goins, the author of You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), basically called my bluff and made me see how easy it would be to finally call myself a writer. In Stop Waiting to Be Picked or Your Dreams Will Die, Jeff explains:
“Audiences are always ready for one more voice. One more leader. We’re always ready to hear from someone who is ‘crazy enough to change the world.’ And the next leader could be you—if you would just stop waiting.”
Yes, our fear is real. But so are the solutions. We need to stop waiting and be brave enough to seek out the answers we need to take the next step.
And never look back.
Author: Liesha Petrovich
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis