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My Top 10 Ways to Overcome Procrastination RIGHT NOW

One of the biggest reasons writers don’t finish their books and accomplish their goals is a little something known as PROCRASTINATION.

Procrastination is rampant in the writing world, and it gets worse and worse the more you do nothing about it.

Just like anything else, what you focus on grows. That goes for focusing on good things AND focusing on things like procrastinating or being a procrastinator.

I KNOW how hard it can be. Believe me, I KNOW.

I was not only the Queen Procrastinating Writer 10 years ago, but I built an entire following and business around it (Originally Procrastinating Writers, which has now morphed into the business I have today). 

Over the years, I’ve had DOZENS of conversations with myself about what I need to be doing in my writing life, to feel happy, fulfilled, proud of myself, to get the results I want and to have the confidence to keep moving forward. And one thing I always knew for sure was my procrastination, my resistance, my fear, my doubt, my lack mindset, my feeling not good enough, wasn’t helping me at all.

I knew I had to overcome my procrastination and commit to continuously checking in with myself on whether or not I’m in alignment with the outcomes I desire and if I’m actually doing what I need to do every day. 

Over the years I’ve used every productivity method and strategy out there for busting through the fear, doubt, resistance and anything else that comes up or tries to get in the way. I’ve done the legwork to find what works for me.

Yesterday I created the final audio training for my DONE workshop, sharing 10 of the most powerful strategies I’ve ever used to kick procrastination’s ass. What ended up coming out was quite possibly one of the most powerful audios I’ve EVER created.

It was straight from my heart to yours on what has worked for me and made a difference in my writing life.

These are the strategies that I’ve narrowed it down to, from the hundreds of different ones that are out there. These are the ones I’ve used and still use to this day to keep myself in check, focused and moving forward every single day. No. Matter. What.

When I finished the audio, I knew I couldn’t keep it inside the DONE workshop group. I HAD to share this audio with you and with all the other writers in the world who are looking to cut through the bullshit and save themselves time and energy trying to figure out how to overcome their procrastination.

So here it is… my top 10 ways to overcome procrastination and get your writing DONE…

jenniferblanchard.net/procrastination

Once you listen to the audio, your Action Step is to choose (at least) ONE of the strategies to start implementing in your own writing life. And if you want to, hit “reply” to this email and tell me which strategy you’ll be implementing, for accountability 🙂 

Dream life or bust,

jen

There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block

I used to be the Queen Procrastinating Writer. I claimed writer’s block for years. I used it as an excuse not to do the writing I knew I wanted to be doing.

But once I finally dug deeper into what was really going on, I was able to make a discovery: there’s no such thing as writers block.

Writers Block is actually a surface problem. The roots go much deeper.

NY Times Bestselling Author, Jerry Jenkins, has narrowed down exactly where “Writer’s Block” comes from:

  1. Fear
  2. Procrastination
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Distractions

In his article, How To Overcome Writer’s Block Once and For All, he shares his solutions for dealing with these four underlying issues that bring about “Writer’s Block.”

>> Read the article here

Jerry has written and published 190 books!! Twenty-one of which have been NY Times Bestsellers. If there’s anyone who can help you overcome your struggle with the underlying issues that cause “Writer’s Block,” it’s him.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block? Share in the comments. 

Are You Addicted to This?

Here’s something you may not know about me… I used to be addicted to feeling not good enough and constantly telling myself that I didn’t measure up. That I didn’t quite have what other people had.

I was plain. Unoriginal. BORING.

Brown hair and brown eyes. Five-foot-five-inches tall. Size 9 shoe.

Fucking average.

I had a middle-class lifestyle. Nothing was picture-perfect, but everything was status quo.

And there was nothing special about me. Nothing that made me stand out. Nothing that made me feel like I mattered.

Yes, I was always surrounded by love and support, but I still felt alone. Because deep-down inside, I knew something.

I knew that I was born for more. I looked around me and at what I saw in the mirror, and while it all felt average to me, I didn’t feel average on the inside.

As a young child, I saw myself as a star. I saw my name in lights. I imagined myself hanging out with all the celebrities, just like I was one of them.

And when I was young, that’s always what I was: a star. I would find ways to get myself on a stage whenever I could.

I took dance classes and performed on stage with the older girls. I was chosen to speak on the microphone and introduce my first-grade chorus during our school event. I went to an art camp where the final project was to create a piece of art (a mask) and then stand on the stage and show it to everyone.

I used to find a million different reasons why my summer camp leader should let me go up on the stage in the gymnasium and perform for the group (one time she actually let me when I’d been reading a book on magic tricks from the library and wanted to show everyone what I learned).

I was always in the school musicals and plays. I was always performing and showing off and putting myself out there.

Because that’s how I felt inside. I felt like this amazing super-star performer who people needed to pay attention to.

I WAS BORN THIS WAY.

I didn’t know any different. It’s just who I was.

And then somewhere around middle school things started to change. Suddenly I found myself being made to feel not good enough… by the girls who bullied me, by the guys who called me ugly, by the people who treated me like I didn’t matter.

I didn’t know how to deal with any of this. It was like a barrage of feelings and thoughts I had never, ever had about myself before, coming at me at a speed I couldn’t stop. It overwhelmed me and freaked me out and made me retreat.

And that’s when I turned to writing.

From a young age I was fascinated with words and most especially with reading. I couldn’t get enough of it. I carried books around with me everywhere.

I had always been a writer, but it wasn’t until middle school that the writing came pouring out of me like a spout that couldn’t be turned off.

Suddenly I had poems, I had short stories, I had ideas, coming out of my freaking ears.

I couldn’t write them down fast enough to capture them all.

All of my life up to that point I felt so average. Like there was nothing special or important about me. Sure, I was creative and had some talent. But I just never felt good enough.

When I was at art camp making my mask for the final presentation, all I could think about was how weird and crazy mine looked compared to everyone else’s. I just wanted my mask to look as good as the girl sitting at the table with me.

When I was in dance class we painted t-shirts to wear for our final recital and everyone else’s shirts had their names in the center with perfect little dots and squiggles surrounding them. I drew a big-ass hot-pink flower with a giant green stem and a bunch of other random things. And then I squeezed my name in at the bottom.

When we looked at all the shirts, everyone’s looked pretty similar and mine looked like a crazy person painted it. All I could think was–why can’t I do it like they do? What’s wrong with me?

I felt this way about pretty much everything. Except for writing.

Writing was always that thing that made me feel good enough. That made me feel special and talented and worthy. That made me feel like I was more than enough. That I was so much, I actually had something leftover to share with others.

My words. My writing. My stories.

And looking back now, it all makes sense. I wasn’t average. I wasn’t unoriginal. I wasn’t not good enough.

It’s that I was always hanging out with people who were further along than I was. Older, more experienced, not beginners. (I was always very mature for my age and I had a passion for learning new things, so I participated in stuff kids my age weren’t interested in ’til they were older.)

Connecting the dots now I can see it so clearly.

I am good enough. I always was good enough. I just always liked to push myself more than most people and try things I wasn’t very good at and fail and fail and fail and keep going.

And now I’m choosing to SEE MYSELF this way.

I’m choosing to feel like that little super-star girl who just wanted to perform and be on stage and have all eyes on her.

These days I’m choosing to “perform” through my writing (though you never know when you might see me singing, dancing or doing some acting some day!) To take center-stage with my words.

To share what I believe to be true about me AND about YOU.

And that is this: you have what it takes. I have what it takes.

You knew from a very young age that you have what it takes. You’ve always felt different inside. You’ve always felt like you have star-quality inside.

You just didn’t always see that inner feeling reflected in your outer reality. And because you were so young, you didn’t know yet that reality is relative.

It’s relative to the thoughts you think and the things you believe.

So you chose to believe the reality that you saw around you. Just like I chose to believe it.

And then we internalized what we saw and made it mean something about ourselves. That we’re average. Not special. Not good enough.

Yet deep-down we still felt it. We may have pushed that feeling away, squashed it with negativity or just flat-out ignored it.

But it was still there.

And it’s still there right now.

Because here’s the thing–what you feel inside is real.

Your dreams, your desires, the things you want to achieve and create for your life. It’s all real. And it’s all possible for you to have all of it (if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t feel pulled to it).

You just stopped believing that it was real. You were too busy shoulding yourself about nonsense and telling yourself you’re not good enough, not special enough, not talented enough… not enough.

So here you sit now. Still with that deep-down feeling that you were born for more.

Born to write. Born to create. Born to put words on the page.

Well, let me tell you something right now…

If you feel this way…

If deep-down inside you KNOW…

If every part of you rings true with the things I’ve said here…

Then it’s time.

It’s time for you to drop the mask and drop the false-front. Time to stop pretending that you’re something other than what you really are.

Time to come out to the world and BE the author you are meant to be. That you’ve always known you were born to be.

It’s time to come to terms with the fact that this feeling you have inside–this feeling that you were born for more, born to shine, born to share your words with the world–it’s never gonna go away.

Never.

Not ever.

NEVER.

Are you hearing me?

You will wake up with this feeling every single day for the rest of your life. You will go to sleep with it, nagging you, begging you to let it out.

It will taunt you, it will haunt you. It will follow you EVERYWHERE.

You cannot escape it. It will be there until you are no longer here.

So the choice is yours… do you take this feeling to your grave and bury it with the shell of who you lived this life as?

Or do you let it out RIGHT NOW? Unleash it to the world and finally realize that if you are born to write, if you are called to put words on the page, if you feel deep-down inside that you were BORN FOR THIS…

Then it is your RESPONSIBILITY to STEP THE FUCK UP. It is your PURPOSE to serve the world with your gift of the written word.

You are doing the entire world a disservice by not showing up every single day and doing your writing, by not pushing through the BS and the excuses and finally finishing and hitting publish.

That not good enough feeling? It’s always gonna be there too. And right now, if you’re MIA in your writing life, then most of the time, you’re letting that feeling win. You’re letting it win over the feeling you have deep inside that you were born for more.

It’s time to CHOOSE to let that other feeling become the priority. To stop listening to the BS and realize once and for all that feeling not good enough DOES NOT COME FROM YOU.

You are NOT born feeling not good enough. You are born feeling that feeling inside that says YOU ARE A STAR, BORN FOR MORE, HERE TO DO BIG THINGS, HERE TO SHAKE THE WORLD.

THAT feeling is real. THAT feeling you were born with.

Feeling not good enough came as a byproduct of your environment, programmed into you without much you could do about it.

But just remember that feeling not good enough does NOT BELONG TO YOU. You may have claimed it all these years, but it’s not yours.

Once you realize this–once you really, really take it to heart–you can finally choose to let it go and to focus on the feeling you were born with… that feeling that says, I AM BORN TO WRITE.

You’re here for a reason. If writing is it, then it’s time to put on your big-girl pants, step up and do your part.

The world is waiting for you.

Share With Us

Are you BORN to write? Are you ready to claim it? Claim it in the comments!

Are you ready to step up to the next level in your writing life? Be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a high-level accountability, motivation, strategy and success mindset group for emerging authors and authorpreneurs who want to create their dream writing lives all on their terms. 

If You Want to Be A Pro Writer, You’ve Gotta Be Able to Deal With This

A few weeks ago I launched a passion project called the Bestselling Author Mastermind. The idea for a group like this had been in my mind for awhile. But I never acted on it, because it never felt like the right idea.

Until one Monday afternoon back in April. I had just gotten off a call with my accountability partner (one of many) where I told her I was going to write and publish one eBook a month for the rest of the year (and one novel). No idea how I’d do it, but that’s what I wanted to do.

Not long after our call, I was sitting at my desk thinking about how I was going to pull this massive, insane goal off, when an idea pops in my head: create a mastermind group for emerging authors who want high-level accountability, kick-ass motivation, success mindset and to see the behind-the-scenes of my writing life.

I was even being nudged to invite them to watch me as I became a bestselling author.

Now this was a seriously scary idea when I first heard it. I mean, really? Invite people to WATCH me as I become a bestselling author? (Talk about surfacing my fears and doubts!)

So I texted one of my other accountability buddies (well, she’s more like my save-my-ass, talk-me-off-the-ledge, idea-brainstomer-and-totally-amazing-writer-friend, but I digress) and told her what I was thinking. She wrote back that it was freaking genius and I should totally do it.

I then told her  I wanted to call it the Bestselling Author Mastermind, but I was worried because how could I call it that when I wasn’t actually a bestselling author yet? Wouldn’t people judge me and criticize me for it?

A lame fear that had no merit, because as my awesome friend pointed out, I would eventually be a bestselling author, there was no doubt about it in her mind. And so calling my group the Bestselling Author Mastermind was totally in alignment with that goal.

Done.

I called the group the Bestselling Author Mastermind, and then I invited everyone in to watch behind-the-scenes as I became a bestselling author. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when, I just knew it was a done deal.

The funny thing is, I was doing some very powerful intention-setting during that time, without even realizing it. I had not only called my mastermind group, The Bestselling Author Mastermind, but during the promotion of it, I was sending out emails telling over 4,000 people that I am going to be a bestselling author AND that they could watch me do it.

Almost 30 writers jumped in and my new mastermind group was born. I became a bestselling author on Amazon a week later (no joke!).

The crazy part is, this group was more about giving myself a boost of high-level accountability for my goal of writing and publishing one eBook a month for the rest of the year (’cause when you’re leading others, you’ve gotta walk your talk) than anything else. But it ended up becoming something that totally changed my writing life and is now going to be a main focus of mine moving forward.

This group has totally shown me what’s possible when people show up consistently and do the work. I’ve already watched so many transformations it’s incredible. And to hear people stepping up and claiming their dreams and declaring what they want for their writing lives is so beautiful it nearly brings me to tears every time I think about it.

There is so much power in knowing what you want and being willing to let the fear and the uncertainty be there and then acting anyways. 

It’s a common myth that when you achieve success all the fear, doubt and self-sabotaging behaviors drop away. It’s the opposite, really. The fears, doubts and self-sabotage get stronger the further you push outside your comfort zone.

What changes is your awareness of them. Before you were blinded by them, letting them hold you back–even subconsciously–and not knowing it.

But once you know what fear, doubt and self-sabotage looks like for you, you will be more aware of it and more able to recognize when you’re repeating a pattern in behavior that aligns with those old ways of thinking and being.

For example, I now recognize my Upper Limit Problem in-action. I can even predict it’s arrival based on what’s going on in my writing life. Whenever I have a new book coming out, I know my ULP is going to appear at some point following the release of that book. So I watch for it. I look for the patterns in my behavior or the things I’m thinking over the next week or two after the book comes out, and if I notice anything self-sabotagy coming up, I stop it in its tracks and don’t give it any additional energy.

For me, the ULP usually looks like starting pointless arguments with the people closest to me, sickness (in myself or my dog) and accidentally hurting myself (like bumping into stuff and getting bruises or tripping or something like that).

Totally freaking lame-o stuff… but at least now I recognize it. That’s really the key. You have to be aware enough to recognize when you’re self-sabotaging or letting fear or doubt take over your thinking.

And then you’ve gotta axe it. Immediately if not sooner. Otherwise that shit will drag you down.

I’ve spent months nearly flatlined in my business because I was doubting myself so much and in so much fear that it had consumed me and I couldn’t take any action that didn’t feel totally desperate (and that’s not the energy I operate from). It wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong, per se, I just wasn’t aware that these behaviors were my ULP and human-nature self-doubt trying to “protect” me from leaving my comfort zone.

I get it now. I see that you never really lose the fear, the doubt, the self-sabotaging behaviors. They’ll always be there. (As one of my early mentors always said, “New level, new devil.”)

And that’s what you need to see too.

The fear, the doubt, the uncertainty that you feel around your writing, it’s never gonna go away. BUT you can learn how to recognize it in-action, so you can put a stop to it before it takes you down a path you don’t want to go down (the path of procrastination and not taking action).

And the only way to know your fears, doubts and self-sabotaging behaviors–inside and out–is to do the work. Every day, step up and do the work. As you run into the fears, the doubts, ask yourself: what I am doing right now that would cause thoughts like this to come up? 

Nine times out of 10 you’re doing something that will help you make progress on your goals and move you forward on getting your book out there. I can predict this because that’s how fears and doubts work. They’re lazy and so they only come out to play when you’re doing something they consider to be “dangerous” or “unsafe” (aka: trying to leave your comfort zone or be consistent with something or, most importantly, finish a creative project).

If you’re just sitting on your ass watching Netflix and procrastinating on your writing, the fears and doubts will still be there, but not as strongly because they don’t have to be. You’re not doing anything they consider to be a problem.

But remember, the fear, doubt and self-sabotage can only stop you if you let it. So don’t.

Share With Us

What fears, doubts and self-sabotaging behaviors surround your writing life? And how do you deal with them? 

If you’re ready to kick fear, doubt and self-sabotage to the curb–realizing it will come crawling back from time-to-time, but knowing full-well you have what it takes to get rid of it again–be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a high-level accountability, kick-ass motivation and success mindset group for emerging authors (fiction and nonfiction) who want to create their dream writing lives.

Featured image courtesy of Vic

Do You Fear Rejection

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear of success and fear of failure are only two out of the four main things procrastinators fear. The third fear is fear of rejection.

A fear of rejection is an outcome of low self esteem and/or lack of confidence in yourself and your writing.  A fear of rejection makes you feel like everyone in the world is a better writer than you are.

So where does fear of rejection come from?

“As a child this fear may have developed within you when your parents constantly compared you with others with the intention that this might drive you to do best in life,” according to the article, Do You Suffer From Fear of Rejection? “How hard you worked couldn’t satisfy others and thus you developed the feeling that you can never be better than this.”

Many writers suffer from fear of rejection. They believe no one will ever accept their work and they will be rejected by everyone in the writing world–publishers, editors, other authors and, especially, readers.

Here are some signs you fear rejection:

  • You never assert yourself or stand up for yourself
  • You lack the courage to send your writing out into the world
  • You lack the courage to allow anyone to read your writing
  • You never speak up when you have ideas, suggestions, advice, etc
  • You don’t believe in yourself or your writing
  • You don’t take any (or you take very few) risks
  • You think every writer in the world is a better writer than you are
  • You never even attempt to go after your dreams

If you see these signs in yourself, you may have a fear of rejection. For more information, or to see other examples of what fear of rejection looks like, read:

Being rejected can be a scary thing. Rejection affirms that there is someone out there who doesn’t like your writing.

What you have to remember, though, is that when your writing is rejected, the only thing being rejected is your writing.

So many times writers see rejection as a rejection of themselves, and that’s when they lose the courage to submit their work or, in some cases, to continue writing.

What you need to understand is a rejection of your writing is NOT a rejection of you. It is ONLY a rejection of your writing.

And just because your writing was rejected, that doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. All writers get rejected at some point in their careers. It’s the writers who learn to use rejection as fuel to become a better writer and keep putting themselves out there that eventually succeed.

Stephen King is a great example of this. In his book, On Writing, he talks about how he used to collect all his rejection letters and pin them to the ceiling in his bedroom.

If you make it your business to see rejection as an opportunity to better yourself and keep on trying, it’s a lot less frightening.

Plus, it’s better to have a ton of rejection letters and know that you’re actually attempting your writing dreams than it is to have none because you were never brave enough to try.

Action Steps

  • Accept that rejection is part of being a writer–Once you can accept this thought, you will be able to overcome your fear of being rejected. Just keep in mind that all the greats were rejected at one point or another, too.
  • Collect rejections–As I mentioned above, Stephen King hung his rejection letters from his bedroom ceiling and kept on submitting his writing. If you accept that rejection is just part of being a writer, you can then play the rejection game. What that means is, collect rejections. Instead of getting a rejection letter and thinking, “Ugh, not another rejection letter…” think “Yes! Another rejection letter!”
  • Keep all your rejection letters together–Or if you’re brave enough, post them all somewhere you can see them. Then anytime you look at them, see them as proof that you’re brave, courageous and a risk taker. See them as a reminder that you are going after your dreams and that you are putting yourself out there in a big way.
  • Have someone say “no” to you over and over again–I know this sounds silly, but I once did a program where I learned how to get over rejection. We did this exercise where we turned to the person next to us and rejected them over and over and over again until we were all totally bored and over our fear of being rejected.Once you’ve been rejected a 100 times, it doesn’t feel so bad when you get rejected 101 times.
  • Keep sending your writing out; keep showing your writing to others–The last thing you want to do is let your fear of rejection get the best of you. So keep writing, keep submitting your writing, keep showing your writing to people. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

Three Roadblocks to Writing Success

By Annabel Candy

We all procrastinate from time to time, but writers and other creative types
seem to be particularly susceptible to procrastination.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the root causes of procrastination and see if that can help us get over it. Watch out for these three, they can seriously damage your creativity, your production levels and your self esteem:

  • Roadblock Number 1: Laziness—It’s just so much easier to surf the Internet, go for a walk or read a book. I’ve dubbed this procrastination and the way out of it for me is to set goals, work out a deadline and stick to it. I make myself understand that if I don’t do it now then I never will.Imagine fast forwarding your life ten years. Do you want to have achieved your goals or are you ready to admit that you’re just a lazy porker?
  • Roadblock Number 2: Fear—There are so many different things to fear from fear of failure to fear of success and everything in between.But don’t let fear control you.Ask yourself what the worst case scenario is. Since we’re talking about writing here and not scaling Mount Everest, it’s probably not life threatening.So what have you got to lose? Take charge, give fear “the finger” and do what you need to do now.
  • Roadblock Number 3: Perfectionism—Writing’s an art not a science, so there’s no perfect way to write. At some point you just have to stop agonizing about every word and every comma and let it go.Herbert Samuel said that “a library is thought in cold storage,” and that’s all your written words are, too. If you think of your writing as thought in “cold storage,” it makes it easier to finish it.After all, you can always come back to it another time.So don’t let your quality control be too stringent. It could be time to hold that thought and get another one down on paper before it gets lost forever.

Watch out for these three roadblocks and don’t let them delay your journey. I consider myself a good driver, but it you even think you’re being threatened by any of these three, then put your foot down on the gas pedal and plow right through them.

About the Author: Annabel Candy was born in England and traveled widely before settling in New Zealand for ten years. Annabel then moved to Costa Rica before ending up in Queensland, Australia, where she is finishing her first novel, tweaking her blog and writing Web copy to keep the cash
flowing. She has a BA in French and English, and an MA in Design for
Interactive Media.

For more from Annabel, visit her blog: www.inthehotspot.wordpress.com

Do You Fear Not Being Good Enough?

By Jennifer Blanchard

Does the thought of not being good enough make you want to puke? Does it cause you to freak  out and worry constantly?

Well then, fellow writer, you are experiencing a very common fear of procrastinators: the fear of not being good enough.

The fear of not being good enough is the final fear in the list of things procrastinators fear (along with fear of success, fear of failure and fear of rejection).

So what exactly is a fear of not being good enough?

“This fear is one of comparison, competition,” according to the blog post, Basic Fear #2: Not Being Good Enough. “We tend to judge ourselves against another standard.This standard is often a comparison between what we ‘know’ about ourselves and what we ‘believe’ about the other.In other words, we end up comparing all the negative stuff we think true about ourselves to the positive image others portray to us (and we portray to them).We end up seeing ‘the yuck’ of our own lives, but fail to see it in the other.”

Here are some common signs that the fear of not being good enough is present:

  • You always compare yourself to others
  • You think everyone is better at XYZ than you are
  • You are judgmental of everyone around you because of your own insecurities
  • You lack self esteem
  • You doubt your writing abilities
  • You always try to be perfect–in every situation and circumstance
  • You berate yourself for not being perfect
  • You’re a perfectionist

If you recognize yourself in the list above, you may have a fear of not being good enough.

Although the fear of not being good enough manifests in hundreds of ways–avoiding writing, never submitting your writing, etc–deep down, the fear of not being good enough comes from one thing: lack of confidence.

When you lack confidence, you always feel like no matter what you do, it will never compare to what other people can do; you always feel like you won’t be successful because you don’t have the ability to be.

But when you believe in yourself–and believe in your writing–the world is your oyster (as they say). You can do anything. You can be anything. You can achieve anything. There is nothing outside your reach.

Action Steps

  • Believe in yourself—If you’re ever going to become confident and make your fear of not being good enough disappear, you have to believe in yourself. You are your own worst enemy, which also means you can become your own best friend. It’s all a matter of how you think.
  • Know that you are good enough—Confidence starts with knowing what you’re good at and using it to your advantage. Make a list of all the things you’re good at, whether that be writing, playing video games or grilling a mean steak. When you reflect on the things that you are already good at, it helps get you in a more positive state-of-mind, which can then help boost your confidence enough to try something new (like writing).
  • Use your fear as fuel—The only way to get better at something is to do it repeatedly. So instead of allowing your fear of not being good enough to hold you back, use it as fuel to grow and become a stronger writer. The more you know about something, the more confident you become. So by using your fear as fuel to learn more about writing or to attempt writing more often will make you more confident overall.
  • Ask for help—There’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re not 100 percent confident in your writing ability, ask someone to help you out by reading and critiquing one of your stories or join a creative writing class and sharpen your writing skills.
  • Accept that you don’t need to know everything to write—This is definitely a thought that most writers toy with at least once in their careers: Do I know enough to write this book/article/whitepaper/etc? I think Bill O’Hanlon, author of Write is a Verb, hit the nail on the head when he mentioned in the recent interview I did with him that he wouldn’t have written a single book if he had to know everything about the subject before writing. Writing is a journey. You’ll never know everything immediately, and the best way to learn is by doing.
  • Give up trying to be perfect—You are not perfect. I am not perfect. James Joyce was not perfect. Stephen King is not perfect. Your favorite authors are not perfect. Are you starting to see a pattern? Perfection is an idea, but not a reality. It is impossible to be perfect. Imperfection is what makes us human. So rather than trying to be perfect all the time, revel in being able to just be who you are. When you take on that mind-set and let your need to be perfect go out the window, something amazing happens. You fall in love with who you are and what makes you unique and different—flaws and all. (It’s also important to note that perfection is boring. No one wants to read about a perfect character with a perfect life and perfect job and perfect family…ugh! It’s so boring! The same goes for real life.)
  • Stop beating yourself up—You are a good writer. You are learning as you go. You are becoming better every single day. So stop beating yourself up! And remember, “Nothing great is created suddenly,” (a quote from Epictetus).

How To Turn Off Your Inner Editor

By Joe Williams

An inner editor is that voice inside your head that seems to pop up whenever you’re writing just to tell you your writing sucks or you need to go back and change that paragraph or rewrite that entire chapter, etc.

In actuality, your inner editor is just you. And so what you say to yourself is entirely up to you.

When an inner editor reveals itself, uncertainty is present, and therefore you second-guess yourself. A lack of confidence–in your work and yourself–makes this self-defying subconscious appear.

Whatever weight you may be carrying on your shoulders, or the bothersome thoughts running through your head, ignore them and complete your writing piece with the assurance that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re doing it well.

Ideas flourish when minds think soundly, and confidence will enable your mind to think in that manner.

When writers get “stumped” on a word, or can’t finish a paragraph, they often get flustered, which causes the inner editor to appear. And then the writer doesn’t finish the piece with 100 percent confidence (and sometimes the writer doesn’t finish the piece at all).

Self-reliance is another key factor that needs to be present in order to dodge your inner editor.

Maybe you were counting on another person for an interview before you could write your article and now the person hasn’t called you back. Or maybe you were counting on your writing partner for some research, but they didn’t get it done.

No matter, if you go into any writing situation prepared to complete it, regardless of any obstacles, you’ll be better able to turn off your inner editor and get your writing done.

Push on when you think it may not be thorough enough or it’s beginning to ramble, because that’s not portraying confidence in your self and your work, and it will show in the writing.

Use your second draft to make changes.

For now, just get used to the fact that you are your own enemy and the moment you choose to remain confident, you’ll be able to turn off your inner editor and get your writing done.

Tips on How to Stay Confident

  • Come up with a writing affirmation–such as “I am a great writer” or “This piece of fiction is the best I’ve ever written”–and then repeat it to yourself whenever your inner editor pops up.
  • Post the affirmation by your writing area and refer to it whenever you feel your confidence shaking.
  • Use the voice recorder on your cell phone (or a handheld recorder if your phone doesn’t have one) and record yourself  a little pep talk. Play it back to yourself whenever you need a confidence boost.
  • Close your eyes and imagine yourself reaching your writing goal (whatever it may be). Visualizing yourself attaining your dreams will help give you the confidence you need to continue writing.
  • Ask your friends and/or family to make a list of all the great things about you. Refer back to the list often. (You can also make a list yourself.)
  • Stay focused on the task at-hand. It’s easy to get distracted while writing (this is usually when the inner editor starts popping up), so try to keep focused on just getting the words down and not thinking about or doing anything else until you do.

About the Author: Joe Williams is a rock-n-roll singer/songwriter. He creates original writing daily, and believes it’s important for writers to find their own style.

How To Move Out of Your Writing Comfort Zone

By Devon Ellington 

For years, many freelancers have bought into the myth of the need to have a “niche” and “branding.” And many of these same freelancers are struggling in the economy, because they’ve written themselves into boxes where opportunities have dried up.

You want to know how to make a living as a writer? Work at your craft so that you’re damned good; write whatever you’re passionate about, and market your butt off to find people to pay you for writing about your passions. It’s not easy. But it can be done.

You want easy money? Writing’s not for you.

If you’ve spent a lot of time writing in one particular area, how do you break out? How do you move out of writing something that’s comfortable into something else?

You treat it like on-the-job training. You avoid the content mills that pay crap at all costs, because if you get stuck in that hole, you won’t get out and you’ll be trapped in an even bleaker prison: The cheap labor prison.

What you do is approach it like taking a class or learning a language or taking up knitting. You put in the time and you learn from qualified people.

I’m going to give two examples of working out of one’s comfort zone.

First Example
Let’s say you wrote reports and newsletters while you were the administrative assistant in a big corporation, but you really want to write for non-profits.

  • Put together your portfolio, using samples of the work you did for the big corporation.
  • Look at non-profits and find one about whose mission you are passionate about.
  • Learn everything there is to learn about them.
  • Take the time and write one or two short pieces for your portfolio that are specific to their line of work.
  • Take them on as a pro-bono client.
  • Write up a contract, the same way you would if they were a paying client. In my experience, you often have to set firmer boundaries for a pro bono client than for a paying client.
  • Decide how long a period of time you are willing to work with them and what you’re willing to do for them.
  • Do it.

The clips you get from working with them, even as a pro-bono client, will give you the skills, the quality of clip, and the legitimacy to vault you into the paid arena.

In the meantime, while you work with them:

  • Attend every networking event and meet as many people in the non-profit world as possible.
  • Go to conferences and lectures.
  • Maybe even give a few talks yourself.
  • Network, network, network.
  • Find discussion groups and message boards and loops.
  • Start scouring the job listings for paying work—not a percentage of a grant “someday,” but paid work.
  • Use the pro-bono work you’ve done as part of your portfolio package.
  • Take on freelance assignments from a variety of non-profits—these paid—until you land the job you want.

What about your original pro-bono client? In the best of all possible worlds, a paid position will open in the organization and they’ll hire you.

Unfortunately, an organization who receives pro bono work from someone sometimes doesn’t see the person as a viable hire. If you develop a clear relationship, you should be able to communicate your wish to move into a paid position. After working with them for six months, you may be ready to move on for a variety of reasons.

Second example
You’ve published a handful of romance novels, but you have the hankering to be a sports writer. Maybe you’ll even write a mystery series set in the sports world.

  1. Pick your sport.
  2. If you don’t know about it, immerse yourself in it. Go to games. Write up articles about the games as an observer. Maybe even start a blog—but only if you’re willing to commit regular content.If you love a sport that happens to have a minor league team in your town, such as a minor league baseball team or a minor league hockey team, see if you can cover it for a local newspaper or community website. The money won’t be great, but it will be better than a content-mill site or a $1/post blog-mill site; and the clips, again, will be of a better quality and give you a legitimacy to gain better paid work.
  3. Talk to fans. There are some unique fans with unusual views of the world out there. They make great human interest stories.
  4. Attend charity events for the team. Better yet, work them.
  5. Attend press events. Ask questions.
  6. Get to know the staff of the team. Let them know you’d like to write about the team. If they like what you wrote for a local paper, you’ve already got a leg up if an internal marketing position opens up. Find a reason the team can’t live without you, and convince the staff.

I write both fiction and non-fiction about ice hockey. I spent a lot of time with several minor league teams a few years ago, and everyone was lovely. They were delighted to talk about the ins and outs of what they do.

They knew I wouldn’t burn them by misrepresenting them in my articles, they also knew if I disagreed with them about something I’d be upfront with them.

I’d been a hockey fan since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until I started writing about it that I really learned the game intimately. I grew even more passionate about a sport I loved.

On the flip side of that, I pitched an idea to a publication for which I write regularly to cover the America’s Cup. I can’t even swim and knew nothing about sailing. I had two weeks to learn.

I tracked down some former racing yachts, got my hands on them, and learned the basics.

Part of my angle for the articles was the outsider perspective—an unusual sport, along with a sense of “come learn with me” communicated to the readers. The articles got a great response.

If you love it enough, you find a way to make it work.

My approach to freelance writing has always been to follow whatever interests me and convince someone to pay me for it. I’ve put in the work on my craft, so I’m a good writer. I’m also passionate about my interests. That communicates to both editors and readers, and helps land assignments.

If you move out of your comfort zone in a purely mercenary sense, chances are you’ll just build yourself another prison. You don’t want your work or your time disrespected.

Any dues paid without physical money changing hands has to be worth it for you—not something a content site will resell and make money from indefinitely. Pick your pro bono slots carefully and use them to work—quickly—into reasonably paid work.

If you move out of your comfort and into your passion, chances are the quality of the work will be superior, and, after the first one or two articles, so will the pay.

About the Author Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her work appears in publications as varied as New Myths, Books for Monsters, Espresso Fiction, The Rose and Thorn, Femme Fan, The Crafty Traveler, Hampton Family Life, The Armchair Detective and ELLE. She writes “The Literary Athlete” for The Scruffy Dog Review. Her Jain Lazarus Adventures are published by FireDrakes Weyr Publishing and the YA horse racing mystery Dixie Dust Rumors will be published under the Jenny Storm name by eTreasures, summer 2008. Her plays are produced in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Australia. Visit her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee, the site for the Jain Lazarus Adventures and her websites www.devonellingtonwork.com and www.fearlessink.com.