Author and writing coach Jeff Goins recently posted an article about fear. The topic sprang from a webinar he conducted, in which many people revealed that fear was holding them back from achieving their dream goals.
News flash, right? Lots of people are afraid to try or, more to the point, afraid that they’ll fail.
Yet Goins — who has 100,000+ subscribers to his blog — went on to reveal two things:
He was scared to death when he set out to become a full-time writer, and
Two kinds of fear exist, one of which can help you.
“Good fear leads to action. Bad fear leads to complacency,” he writes.
For some, the fear of never getting anywhere (whether in personal life or career) is a powerful motivator. But that same fear keeps others from even trying to move out of their current cocoons. As Goins puts it, the fear “forces (them) to stay stuck.”
His personal solution was a writer’s version of that old athletic saw about “playing with pain.” Even though he was scared, Goins launched. Waiting for the perfect time might have meant never launching at all.
That’s not to say you should dive in without checking the depth of the pool. (I swear that some people jump without bothering to see if there’s any water at all.) It’s possible you’ll swan perfectly into eight feet of artesian spring. Or maybe you’ll land on your head in a puddle. More on that in a minute.
Just keep doing it
Over the years I have been:
A 21-year-old single mom living in a big-city slum, so poor I had to do all our laundry – including the diapers – on a scrub board.
A 26-year-old freelancer who had no education but somehow convinced a newspaper editor she was worthy of a full-time reporting job.
A 39-year-old mom in the Intensive Care Unit, 24/7 helpless in the face of the rare neurological disease that had put my daughter on life support.
A middle-aged woman leaving a long-term abusive marriage, watching debt pile up as the divorce dragged on and on.
A “non-traditional” college student with a bad case of the Second-Guess. What am I doing here? I’m older than most of the teachers!
A freelancer hired by MSN to write personal finance blogs. I don’t even know what a blog IS. How can I write one?
And most recently, as the creator of the Write A Blog People Will Read online course. What if no one buys it? What if the reviewers hate it? (Neither of these came true, as it turned out.)
Like Goins, I did all of these things afraid. And by “afraid,” I mean “terrified.” Whenever I found myself choking with fear and mumbling I can’t do this, I remind myself: You ARE doing this. Just keep doing it.
Am I still afraid? Sure. But I keep moving.
The only thing you have to fear…
Understand: I’m not advising you to quit a day job with some vague notion of writing a blog that goes viral or starting a novel that you’re pretty sure will sell. Make the smartest choices you can, such as:
- Trimming your budget to the bone
- Socking away a lot of money (apparently it also helps to have a wealthy spouse or partner)
- Trying a part-time work schedule (if your boss allows it)
- Creating a specific writing plan vs. waiting for the Good Ideas Fairy to tap you with her magic wand
Goins is right: Being afraid is no sin. The only real crime is consenting to be ruled by that fear.
If you want to write, then write. Don’t expect overnight acclaim, but don’t put off starting because you’re afraid that approbation of any kind will never happen. If you get published, great. (Hint: Blogging counts as publishing.)
Ultimately, though, you have to write for yourself. Words matter more than pageviews. Audiences are ideal, but they’re also optional.