It’s a legit emotion.
Fear is generally not fun to experience, but it serves a purpose.
Fear is our body’s way of letting us know that something might be going on that we need to react to. Fear helps to keep us safe.
Notice how I said fear might be useful.
Sometimes, fear comes up as a warning, but there’s no imminent danger (Think of an unexpected car honk that was unnecessary).
Other times, fear comes up, it’s not useful and it’s not really a warning of imminent danger (though it can feel this way). When this happens, fear and can hold us back.
In life, that can happen in any number of ways:
- A fear of public speaking won’t allow you to present information well (or at all) at work, and so you’re not considered for promotions
- A fear of flying holds you back from taking as m
anytrips as you’d like to (or you don’t fly at all)
- Fear of spiders cripples you at the sight of even the smallest 8-legged creature even though logically, you know, you’re not in danger
- Or maybe, you’re not taking the plunge into really being a freelance writer because you’re scared…
All of these fears are normal, but it doesn’t mean you need to stay fearful. We’ll try to tackle this last fear. Keep reading.
Why Might You be Scared of Being a Freelance Writer?
Everyone is different, but having worked with a lot of writers (and having a lot of freelancing friends), here are some common fears:
- Putting yourself out there for (potential) criticism: Your words become public domain and now not only can people read them, but they can judge, comment, and question you. That’s scary.
- The risk of not making enough money. It takes time to build a freelance writing business and it can be scary to consider not making enough money as a writer- you have bills and responsibilities after all!
- Fear of failure. What if you can’t do it? What if people don’t want to hire you? What if you just suck? That can be overwhelming and debilitating.
- Scared you’re not good enough. What if you get hired, but you can’t follow through with the work and the quality isn’t good enough? What if you’re fired?!
- Fear that you can’t consistently produce high-quality work. I’ll admit- when I was first hired to write for Contena, I was thrilled but also a bit worried- what if I couldn’t produce the number of articles they wanted and over a period of time? What if I ran out of ideas or the ideas weren’t good enough or the writing wasn’t good enough? This fear is real and can stop you from trying or can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Being scared about losing clients. If you’re fortunate enough to find anchor
clients,or consistent work, then you might develop the fear of losing those clients. There goes your income, you’ll have to find more clients, and what if you can’t?
Are your fears on this list? You’re not alone.
Regardless of the fear(s) that you’re experiencing, what is common in many (if not all) of them, is that you can push through them and still get started (or continue on) as a freelance writer.
In fact, I’d bet there are writers who you’d consider to be successful and they still experience these fears.
I’m in a few writer’s groups and one common theme is writing an article that could get backlash, but they feel strongly it needs to be written. Many of them have experienced the haters of the Internet coming to get them after a story, so the fear is real.
But, they often still write.
Despite the fear, they move forward. And often, they, and the people who read their work, are better off because the writer pushed through the fear.
How to Handle Fear as a Writer
**Keep in mind that this section discusses ways to address and deal with fear that is manageable; if you’re dealing with debilitating fears that are getting in the way of your daily functioning, you’ll want to reach out to a medical professional for support.
5 Ways to Kick Your Fear to the Curb
1. Use the fear as fuel
When you have fear, look at it as a tool to motivate you.
You’re scared of your writing not being good enough? Use that as motivation to do more reading, more writing, and possibly work with an editor or writing coach so that your work is polished.
If you’re scared of what people will say, remember that you likely have an important message that people will appreciate hearing. When you can turn your fear into
2. Adjust your thinking
Fear exists in our body and our mind. We have thoughts that create physical reactions like a racing heart and shallow breathing. If we can address the scary thoughts, then chances are, we will physically feel better, and the thoughts may not feel as overwhelming.
When you notice a negative or scary thought, work on reminding yourself to stop (be forceful with this reminder), and then replace that thought with something positive.
For example, when you think “What if I get another rejection? I’ll be so embarrassed” tell yourself something like, “All writers get rejections; every rejection is one step closer to yes.” Being positive can help deal with the fears you’re feeling.
3. Look at it logically
Similar to adjusting your thinking, when we’re feeling scared, our thoughts can get big and out of control. So, we need to slow them down and help them feel a bit smaller with some good
For example, “I shouldn’t start writing because what if I can’t support myself? I could end up totally broke.”
Stop and think logically, “It feels scary financially, so I’ll make sure to save money now and keep my job for a little while. Once I’ve secured more jobs, then I can ditch my 9-5 and just write. If work slows down, I can always go back to babysitting to make up the money.”
It’s common to be illogical when we’re scared so we need to work on getting to what’s really true in the situation.
4. Write it down and destroy
This can be a fun activity.
Take some time to write down what you’re scared of. No
And then, destroy (no, don’t toss your computer).
Delete the file, shred the paper, crumple it in a ball and toss it in the garbage can- whatever you prefer. It’s like letting some air out of the tires- sometimes our fears need to decompress a bit and by expressing them, and then getting rid of them, you might find that the fears don’t feel as big anymore.
5. Spend time enjoying yourself
Whether you spend time with friends, family, or pets, hang out in nature or at a jazz club, go hiking or head to the spa, taking time for yourself to relax and practice self-care can be a great way to deal with the stress that fear creates.
And when you’re feeling less stress, you may experience less fear. Funny how that works.
Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?
Remember that fear is normal and it can be managed.
And guess what? You can be afraid and take the plunge. It’s normal to have fear and still move forward, doing the things that are scary.
The more you work through and push through these fears, chances are, the less scary they’ll feel.
Over time, it will become easier to deal with your fears as a writer; don’t let these hold you back from working as a freelance writer.