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Are You Afraid To Be A Writer?
It can be tough to make the decision to become a writer. Take me, for example. I started work as a journalist at 21, but I didn’t realise how much I loved the job until I stopped doing it for a while. Then I couldn’t wait to get back to it, but I still didn’t learn. After another ten years, I started teaching journalism, which was very rewarding, but not ultimately what I wanted to do. That’s why, several years later, I left my job as a journalism lecturer to go freelance once again. This time I know it’s the right decision and I’m sticking with it.
But it’s not so easy for everyone. There are lots of reasons why you might be afraid to take the plunge. If you’ve been writing in your spare time and have never shown your writing to anyone, you might lack confidence. I understand. Although I’m very confident about my non fiction writing, it has taken me years to show my fiction writing to anyone.
Many people think that they can’t write. Ironically, some of these people make the best writers. Writing skills can be taught, and willingness to learn will take you a long way. That was one of the things I loved about teaching — helping students to realise their dream of getting paid to write.
For others, the barrier is the fear of being broke. If you’re making an essential contribution to your household income, then this is a very real fear. The answer to this is to sacrifice some of your spare time and start doing paid writing work on evenings and weekends. Many successful writers have started this way. There will come a time when you have so much work that you begin to think about freelancing full time. However, since freelance writing is seasonal, there’s no guarantee that you will earn the same amount every month, so that stops some people from taking the plunge.
In the end, you will become a full time writer when the fear of not doing it outweighs your fears about being broke or being a poor writer. As you submit more and more work and win more and more gigs, you will build confidence and you will soon find out that you can write. More importantly, you will find out what your writing strengths are, and build on them so that you can attract the paying clients that you need. This is a sensible time to take the plunge.
Of course, you could always do what I did. I left my job and started to promote myself after five years of doing more teaching than writing. I found that my writing skills hadn’t left me and what I needed was to get other people to see my work so they would hire me. That’s why I set up a website and started blogging. Now I have more outlets for my writing than I could have imagined (including about five blogs) and people find me and ask me to write for them. From the outside this looked easy, but don’t forget that I was building on years of experience. Now, I am proud to call myself a writer and I’m not afraid of the label. Stick with it, and soon you will lose your fear of the writing life too.