Being a writer takes guts. We bare our souls, hearts and minds in equal measure. We may do a good peacock impression, but beneath the facade, it’s often a different story.
Having worked with hundreds of authors over the past 20+ years (and from own personal author experience too) I know we all have a thread of vulnerability running through us as creatives.
The biggest boulder blocking our path to great writing success is ourselves.
We get scared of all kinds of stuff. We worry about what people think about our book. We fret over minutiae because our creative minds have blown the minor details out of proportion. We fret about being an imposter and looking an amateur. And that’s just for starters.
Reflecting on the root of this fearfulness, thankfully, can help bring about a much-needed shift.
What are we so fearful of when it comes to writing and publishing our books, articles and blogs, or sharing our words with the big, wide world?
- fear of being judged…
- fear of what people will think of us/our writing style/content…
- fear of being seen as a fraud and not the professional/seasoned author we’d like to present as…
- fear of not being good enough
- fear of failure
And yes, these fears aren’t to be taken lightly. They are often deeply ingrained and keep us rooted to the spot, crippled by writer’s block, excuses, procrastination and inertia. These fears make us perceive our passion for writing as a waste of time, a worthless hobby and our author dreams as just pipedreams. They inhibit our passion and crush our innate craving for creating stories, books and content.
However, in recognising these fears for what they are, navigating past them, focusing on the bigger vision, and/or perceiving them from a different angle, we can dilute their effect. The power these fears have over us right now can be squished and become our superpower instead.
Let me explain:
FEAR OF BEING JUDGED AS A WRITER…
Whatever we do in life, we are going to be judged by someone. Too loud, too obnoxious, too opinionated, too brash? Too boring, too timid, too middle-of-the-fence? Fault-finders lurk everywhere and only come out when they want to spread negativity (that they thrive on anyway).
Overcoming this fear of being judged can be as simple as asking yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Don’t be afraid to delve deep here either. Keep asking yourself, “So what?” until your replies literally dry up and/or become laughable. The world isn’t going to stop. No one is going to die.
Or take a look at any judgement and ask yourself if you’re being oversensitive. After all, writing is emotional and we place ourselves in precarious positions, so could we all do with dampening down those sensitive vibes?
Turn your fear of being judged as a writer into your superpower – show me a writer who doesn’t want free publicity! If you’re being judged, you’re being talked about, the word is getting out about your words craftiness, your book, and your blogs. If people weren’t talking, they wouldn’t be stirring up more interest in your writing. People will want to find out more, read your content, and make up their own minds about you. And anyway, who nominated them ‘TOP JUDGE’? This isn’t Dancing on Ice for Authors.
Take any criticism/comments/jibes on the chin like the superhero you are. Take it as constructive feedback (well, most of it will be constructive, some might just be sent with a different intention but your gut will warn you about anything with underlying ulterior motives – jealousy is a popular one – so listen to it.)
And ALWAYS Remember Dr Seuss’ wise words:
FEAR OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF YOU/YOUR WRITING STYLE/YOUR CONTENT…
To add to my previous point, we need to accept that we’re all different, with different likes and dislikes, wants, needs, preferences, etc. And what one person/reader/potential client will love, another won’t give two hoots about. So as long as you create with your perfect reader in mind, then don’t worry about the rest. You can’t please everyone… you’re not a Ferrero Rocher.
FEAR OF BEING SEEN AS A FRAUD AND NOT THE PRO/SEASONED AUTHOR YOU PRESENT AS…
This fear lives in the dark depths of many writers’ minds. What tortured souls we can sometimes be. 🙂 After all, there are so many great icons to compare ourselves against. But as long as you write with honesty, integrity, passion, and put in your best effort always, you’ll know there’s no way people can see you as a fraud. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. Remember where you started? You’ve come a long way. Don’t forget it. Keep a post-it note on your desk which reads:
‘My writing improves every day. I am a successful writer. I have readers all over the world.”
FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH…
Show me someone from any background or who works in any industry and doesn’t struggle with feelings of self-worth at times. We’re surrounded by social media ideals – most of which are simply that: ideals not reality – and we often measure our worthiness based on what we see (and often accept as reality).
But deep down you know that ‘successful author’ on Twitter can’t possibly be doing nearly as well as they make out. Is it a case of fake it ‘til you make it? Or a distorted ego? Or do they genuinely feel worthy enough to accept who they are, where they are right now and celebrate for all it’s worth? That’s the secret ingredient here.
Work on yourself, your mindset and your self-worth if it’s too ingrained to simply push aside. These feelings often stem from a childhood memory or experience and it can take time to discover this block but it’s not impossible.
Start journaling, try EFT (my go-to EFT gurus are David Childerley and Brad Yates on YouTube). Again, work on changing your beliefs, improving your confidence, and stop the self-sabotaging once and for all. You are most definitely good enough or you wouldn’t have reached where you are today.
When you hear that inner woodpecker chipping away in your head asking, ‘Who do you think you are, you’re not good enough/smart/clever/gorgeous/popular/thin enough to get away with publishing that?’ switch the thought around and ask ‘Why not?’ Tell yourself you can do this… you’ve got this… you’re worth this… every hour of every day until it sinks in because once you’ve changed your belief system your world can change.
FEAR OF FAILURE…
This is a biggie for so many writers. But again, turning this concept on its head and focusing on success (instead of failure) can make a significant difference. Remember these beautiful words of encouragement, inspiration and motivation by Erin Hanson if your fear of failure becomes too overwhelming sometimes:
There is freedom waiting for you,
on the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
Sum up: why vulnerability should be embraced if you’re serious about writing
Sharing the personal stuff – if you’re a dedicated writer you’ll have ideas seeping into your unconscious while you’re asleep and awake. You can never switch off, can you? But how many ideas have you thrown on the slush pile because they’ve crossed the boundary between professional and personal? Too many, I’d guess.
I’m guilty too. So don’t think I’m judging you here. I’ve had to force myself to be vulnerable many times when it comes to sharing my writing. One such blog I remember was about instilling emotion into the writer, and it was sparked by the very gorgeous Nicole Sherzinger singing ‘Memory’ (from Cats the musical) live on Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show. I got goosebumps, shivers down my spine, and it even sparked tears from absolutely nowhere. I was so moved by her rendition that I couldn’t let that evocative experience go and I wanted to share a tiny sample of it with my blog readers in the hope it would inspire and motivate them or even offer them something to reflect on if they were struggling with writer’s block at that particular moment. Try it sometime.
Sharing the personal stuff – our fears and vulnerability – helps us connect with our readers on a deeper psychological level.
Sharing the mundane – everything you see, do, feel, smell, hear and touch as you go about your daily lives can be transformed into a story thanks to your creative genius. Take the customer service experience you had at the supermarket yesterday – could you turn that into a short story or an introduction to your blog about the importance of overdelivering or the polar opposite? What about the dog walk which gives you time to think about book ideas – could that be something you focus on in your next social media post?
Offering an insight into the mundane and turning it into a story helps readers see we’re just like them too.
Sharing a snippet of you – we are inquisitive by nature and so anything which gives us a glimpse of the person behind the clever words or the 5* books and well-crafted blogs is only going to be beneficial. So don’t be afraid to embrace this at times. Mention your vulnerability so people can connect with you… talk about your fears of publishing your first book and how you overcome them… share snippets of your life that people can resonate with because they’ll like you even more, they’ll trust you without hesitation and they’ll feel like they’re getting to know you and want to invest in this relationship (ie by buying your books, hiring you and/or reading your blogs).
Finding the courage to offer a glimpse into our personal lives (without too much gory details) is key to building relationships.
Dr Brene Brown has spent years looking at vulnerability and in her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, she dispels the myth of vulnerability being a weakness. This is a fantastic book which really picks apart the importance of embracing our vulnerability and using it to our advantage; something I’ve tried to inspire you with here.
Remember, we all have our hang-ups, quirks and foibles, just like every other person on the planet. Whether you embrace them, perceive them as positives or dwell on them as negatives is up to you. Thanks to my ups and downs, lessons learnt, and my new-found confidence to move forward and believe in myself, I’ve come to realise that the biggest thing holding us back is fear. And fear is simply an acronym:
False Evidence Appearing Real
Or, as I prefer to think of it… Face Everything and Rise.
After all, what’s the worst that could happen?