So many of us have a fear of writing. The thought of publishing our written words makes us sick to the core. Up until now that has been me – strange I know, especially when you look at the industry I am in! I love the written word. I love to read and truly admire those who have the courage to write, but the thought of publishing my work has filled me with terror. Perhaps it is the voice of my senior English teacher that I still hear, holding me back.
We all make excuses and sometimes it is easier to find reasons to procrastinate. I find these are some of the most popular excuses I make – do you recognise any of them?
- Nobody wants to read what I write. The way you experience life is unique to you and that is your gift. One skill most of us are good at, especially women, is undervaluing our skills. How often to you think of your strengths as being something that everyone else has? Don’t undersell yourself and what value you have to offer; someone is waiting to hear your message.
- I am not a perfect writer. Most people don’t start out brilliant at anything, including writers. Ask the majority of authors who have published multiple books what their first work was like. Most likely it wasn’t their best writing. The more you write the better you will become. Most people want to be perfect and will revise and revise, never being completely satisfied. Focus on finishing your work. As my favourite saying goes – ‘Just Do It’.
- I don’t have time to write. It is easy not to find time to write. I know I have been ‘too busy to do it’ for years. I suggest starting small. If working in the morning is best for you, set your alarm an hour early and write first thing in the morning – this may mean giving up some TV time the night before. Use a note-taking app on your mobile device to jot down notes on the go or keep a notepad and pen beside your bed to record ideas.
- I am too old. With age comes maturity and a wealth of experience and knowledge. You may be recently retired or semi-retired and have a lot of information you can share with your industry.
All of these fears have held me back. Like most teenagers I had many dreams; however, unlike my peers, I choose not to follow them. Unbeknownst to me at that time, I feared failure. I was terrified of people judging me.
J K Rowling said: ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default’.
The choice we face is either becoming a failure by default by choosing not to write or putting our writing out there and seeing what happens. It may fail or it may become a bestseller. But it can only become a bestseller if you take the leap of faith and publish your book.
Through running my own business, joining mentoring groups, listening to speakers and attending conferences, I have realised that many great leaders face the same anxieties that I have. The only real difference being they have mastered the tools to work with, not against, these fears. Acknowledging our fears can be confronting and the choice not to listen to them a difficult one, but remember everyone has fears. With hard work, self-belief and some positive affirmations you too can learn to overcome your fear. Most people find it easier to listen to their inner critic, that voice that tells us we can’t; we are no good; what will people say? You know the one.
You cannot control the final outcome and this is what we often fear the most, the unknown. However, what you can control is the process you take on the road to publishing your book. Research the different stages in publishing, improve your writing skills by reading, attending courses, listening to podcasts from professional writers, and any other way that helps you learn.
I love this quote by Alison Vidotto: ‘Great opportunities are often hidden behind fear and challenges. If we can move past them, we can discover something that can take us a great step forward in achieving our ultimate goals’.
If you are like me, and a large percentage of the population, I encourage you to find the courage and determination to pick up your pen and write. Or if you have already penned your manuscript, which has been hidden in a drawer for far to long, take a leap of faith and publish your work. We all have something valuable to share with the world and that one book could change your life.