Writing takes courage and bravery. If you’re not making as much money as you could from your writing, chances are that you’re letting fear get the upper hand.
Fear affected two of my students.
Chris is an amazing writer. She’s worked as a journalist, and in public relations for a major company. When she decided to write a novel however, her inner censor/ editor took control. She researched endlessly. Then she rewrote chapter one of her book several times. She came to me because she was frustrated.
My advice: “Just write. Sit down and put words onto your computer screen. You can worry about everything later. When your censor speaks up, thank him kindly, and ask him to come back when you’ve finished your first draft.”
Chris recently sent me her first draft. It’s excellent. I suggested she switch a couple of chapters around, and delete a minor character. Chris wants to go the traditional publishing route, so when she’s finished her revision, we’ll work on her query letter which she’ll send to agents.
Jon’s a retired police officer. He promised himself that he’d write, starting with his memoirs. He’d been procrastinating for three years, because his inner censor was in charge.
I suggested that rather than taking on a huge project immediately, he warm up his writing muscles, and build his confidence, with some short projects. Tom’s a proud grandfather to twin boys. What if he were to write down some of the stories he tells them?
It’s a year since I made the suggestion. Tom’s written a dozen short stories for his grandkids, acquired an agent, and is now happily working with an illustrator on his first children’s book. He’s also writing some notes for his memoir.
Allow Self 2 to write… it’s easier than you think
We’ve talked about the inner game, which is your battle with fear. If you want a great writing career, realize that the inner game is on-going.
You need to win it. To win the inner game, think about Self 1 and Self 2:
“… we are composed of two selves: Self 1 (the teller) and Self 2 (the doer). Our difficulties, he claims, often stem from Self 1 distrusting, and consequently insulting and controlling, Self 2. We function most effectively when Self 1 sets the goal and then allows Self 2 to accomplish the task.”
Once Self 1 has decided what you’ll write, tune that self out, and let Self 2 get on with writing. You can’t avoid the game. Your inner censor will always be there.
We discussed Self 1 and Self 2 in How to Win YOUR Writing Game, and said:
It’s important to know that the game exists, and like it or not, you’re playing it against yourself. And you can win it.
To win the game, all you need to do is write. Ignore Self 1, when he suggests that your writing isn’t good enough, or you should be writing something else.
NOTHING you write is ever wasted
Consider these wise words from Dean Wesley Smith on writing into the dark:
”Truth: When you are writing new words, you are never wasting your time.
Here comes a dirty word. Better cover your ears.
There, I said it.”
When a student tells me that he’s stopped working on a project because he wants to write something else, I assure him that that’s fine. I’ve just counted up the various projects I’m currently working on, and I have four. I’ve also got another ten projects (or more) in various stages.
No word you write is ever wasted. It’s the words you write which count. I’ve often told the story of when my first novel was accepted by an acquisitions editor. I walked on air for four days. However, that joy faded. I’ll always remember it, but what gives me most pleasure each day is writing. It truly is the journey which matters.
Fear and money: they’re related
When Self 1 has decided what you want, put Self 2 in charge. Yes, Self 1 will kvetch in the background. Tell him to shut up, and let Self 2 write.
If you want to increase your writing income, you can minimize your fear, as long as you focus on writing.
Resources to build your writing career
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You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels.More info →
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