Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Being a Writer: Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Or, overcoming the intimidation factor of being a writer

If I only had a dollar for every time I was laughed at when I mentioned I wanted to be a writer, I’d still write anyway.  I’d only do it in a more comfortable chair.

Public Perception of Writers

And I'm not the only one. Any career in the creative arts is looked on with eyes rolled to the heavens. Although some lucky writers were given immediate support by their families and friends, most would-be writers are heavily encouraged to take up another profession by friends, family and total strangers.

The reason for this is because the nay-sayers hold a genuine fear that you will not be able to make enough money to survive. Most people look at all artists as starving artists. You will certainly find them in any field of the creative arts today. If someone you know (or don't know) tried to discourage you from being a writer, they are usually doing it out of concern for you rather than trying to put you down.

Money or Lack Therof

The chances of making enough money to survive through your writing alone are grim. You not only have to learn how to write, you have to learn how to network, how to sell yourself and do your own bookkeeping. Even books on writing careers written by successful freelance writers will caution, "Don't quit your day job." For example, my “day job” is caretaker to my elderly mother.  I don’t get a salary for it, but I do get bed and board.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for a freelance writer was 
$55, 420.  Keep in mind that this is the average. Last year (2015) made a mere three-figure salary.  Finding the average of a freelance writer's salary is like finding the average of a professional baseball player's salary. It only takes a few multi-million dollar contracts to screw up the national average.  And so, this worry about money can be very intimidating, indeed.

Write Anyway

Write anyway. Let the very burning drive to write be your validation to write.  If you have the passion for it, you will find ways to incorporate writing into many aspects of your life, whether you are a freelance writer or not. Know deep within yourself why you want to write is it to put food on the table, to express yourself, or just because you love it?

If going three days without writing something down drives you nearly insane, then perhaps you have the passion to write. Writing is the jugular vein of your life. The more you write no matter what you write the better you will get. And you'll keep yourself sane.

Recommended Reading

  • Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft.  Jane Yolen.  Writer’s Digest Books; 2006.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.  Stephen King.  Scribner; 2000.
  • Procrastinating Writers. “Do YouFear Failure?” May 12, 2009.

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