Fear is the #1 killer of success as a writer. It’s why most people wake up every morning and work in a 9-5 job they hate. It’s why more heart attacks happen on Monday mornings while people are on their way to an unfulfilling job. It’s why writers will throw away their manuscript instead of self-publishing or dealing with the rejection of pursuing a publishing contract. It’s why we put off making the important decisions in our life. It’s why we’re more concerned with what other people think of us than we are with what we think of ourselves.
We’re afraid of what others will think and say about us. We’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of succeeding. We’re afraid of getting rejected. We’re afraid of getting published and not selling, or having readers hate our work. We’re afraid of 1-star and 2-star reviews.
Well guess what! Harry Potter Book 1 has 94 1-star reviews and 88 2-star reviews and I don’t even have those many negative reviews on my 20+ books combined! And guess what else? J.K. Rowling sells way more books than I do.
Fear is just an illusion. It says that you shouldn’t finish your book because others might not like it. The truth is if your book becomes successful, changes the world and helps millions of people live a happier life, millions of others probably won’t like it! Some will hate it and some will love it. That’s just how the world works. If you just try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
A parable in the bible says Jesus gave a great speech one day to thousands and thousands of people. At the end of his incredible presentation, there were some believers, some mockers and some who just didn’t understand. If Jesus couldn’t get 100% positive response then why would you ever expect your book to get a 100% positive response? That’s just not how the world works.
Successful writers understand that fear is an illusion and they act in spite of fear. Are you willing to take action even in the face of your fear?
Procrastination will murder your success and rob you blind if you let it! You have to have the self-control, self-motivation and self-discipline to keep making progress with your writing. Procrastination is a simply a habit and we all suffer from it to some extent.
The reason we procrastinate is because we associate more pain with taking action than we do with not taking action. For example, if you’re procrastinating on publishing your book, it’s probably because you associate pain with the unknown aspects of publishing, potential rejections and other challenges. That pain you anticipate is stronger than the anticipated pleasure of publishing your book. That’s why you don’t do it!
If you want to do a quick exercise to get rid of your procrastination instantly, just grab a piece of paper and a pen right now. Write down at the top of the blank page of paper what action you’re procrastinating and putting off. For example, “publishing my book.” Then, on the right side write “pain” and the left side “pleasure” with a dividing line down the middle. In the pain side, write down all the reasons why taking action could be painful, such as “I’d rather watch TV” or “I don’t want to be rejected” or “what if it doesn’t sell?” – but the catch is you have to write in the tiniest possible handwriting you can. Write the painful outcomes as small as humanly possible – if you can’t read it then you’re doing it right.
Now, on the side under pleasure, write down all the reasons why taking that action will bring you pleasure such as “I could become a best-selling author” or “I could earn a great income from my royalties” or “I would gain the respect of my peers and readers.” Write the pleasurable outcomes in your normal handwriting or maybe even a bit bigger than normal – you want it to take up the whole pleasure side of the page.
When you’re done writing the pain and pleasure outcomes, look at the paper. You should clearly now see that you’re going to get a lot more pleasure from getting it done than by putting it off. Now you have reframed your perspective and you should be excited now to go get it done rather than anxious about it.
Indecision will also murder your success and rob you blind! Indecision comes from insecurity in us as well as old habits. Indecision is really just another form of procrastination – but instead of hesitating to take action, we’re hesitating to decide something. You might be indecisive about what the title of your book should be or whether to self-publish or find an agent.
General Colin Powell said, “Indecision has cost the American government, American businesses, and the American people billions of dollars more than the wrong decision.” And he’s right!
Fundamentally, we are indecisive because we have low self-esteem. Maybe we’re repeated negative thoughts in our head or we were unconsciously taught as a child not to be decisive. Maybe we got punished in the past for making a decision that someone else didn’t like. Whatever it is doesn’t really matter. The key is to understand that you can ALWAYS change your decisions later. You can publish your book today on Kindle and then two days from now, change the title. It’s okay to make changes! But the good news is, when you start being decisive and making decisions quickly, you’ll find you don’t need to change your decisions very often. Most of the time, you’ll do it just right and you will have saved yourself a lot of time, worry and energy by making a good decision without procrastinating. And when you do have to make a tough decision to change something important, you’ll get it done right away so you can move on with your life.
Are there any important decisions you’ve been putting off? Write them down write now in your notebook and commit to making a decision before your head hits the pillow tonight.
Perfectionism is highly related to procrastination and indecision as well. Oftentimes, it’s our perfectionism that keeps us from finishing a project or publishing a book. “It’s not quite ready yet...” we keep telling ourselves. But the truth is it will NEVER be ready according to your perfect standards! THERE IS NO PERFECT BOOK AND THERE NEVER WILL BE.
If you’re trying to write a perfect book, you’ll die before you ever reach that goal. Look at all the New York Times bestsellers. I’ve read many professionally published books that had typos, grammatical errors or phrases or sentences that didn’t make sense or were even just factually incorrect. Despite having a whole publishing house and a team of editors, those New York Times bestsellers still aren’t perfect! So how could little old you possibly write a perfect book? You can’t! So don’t even try.
Here’s what you can do: write the best book you’re capable of writing today. Then publish it. If you want to make changes or edits to it later, that’s totally fine. You can come out with a 2nd or 3rd or 797th edition. You don’t have to be perfect to become a bestselling author – but you do have to finish writing and editing and publish your book.
5. Lack of Money
A lot of would-be authors say they don’t have enough cash to write and publish a book. Nonsense! It’s cheaper today to publish a book than it ever has been in the history of the world.
I’ve published books on Amazon Kindle for as little as $5 – that’s right, just five dollars! If you learn how to write the book yourself, edit it yourself, format it yourself, publish it yourself, and hire a cover designer on Fiverr.com for $5, then you have a $5 book. Heck, if you use the GIMP graphic design software and know some graphic design skills, you could even publish it for free.
Now, I’m not telling you to go the ultra-cheap route, but if money is an issue then why not? Don’t let money stop you from writing and publishing a book. There’s no excuse for that anymore!
6. Lack of Knowledge
Knowledge can be a huge stumbling block for new authors. I know it was knowledge combined with fear that stopped me from publishing my first book over 6 years ago! It took me 6 years to publish my first book because I didn't know how to.
You don’t have that excuse anymore! You can learn how to format and upload your book to Kindle in less than an hour with the free Kindle formatting guides from Amazon.
7. Lack of Vision
Lack of vision can be just as deadly to your success. It means you can’t see where you’re going. You have no goals or dreams you’re shooting for. You can’t see how it’s going to happen. You can’t even imagine writing a book – where would you start?
Jack Canfield tells a wonderful story that illustrates this concept. Imagine you were driving from California to New York at night in your car. Your headlights on your car only show about the next 200 feet of road. You can’t possible see what’s beyond the next 200 feet. But you can still drive from California to New York at night without a problem. Why? Because you have a road map or GPS. You have directions. And, even more importantly, you just know in your mind that you’re going to get there if you keep moving forward.
If you can see your goals and dreams in your mind as clearly as you can see that driving your car will get you from point A to point B, you’ll have no problem becoming a successful writer. With a great vision, when challenges or obstacles come up, you just go over, under, around or through them. You do whatever it takes to succeed because you know deep down in your heart that you have what it takes.
Do you have a strong vision for your life and your writing career?
About The Author:
Tom Corson-Knowles is an entrepreneur, blogger and international bestselling author. He started his first business at age 13, manufacturing SAD lamps out of his father's garage. By the time he graduated from Indiana University Kelley School of Business at age 22, Tom was earning a full-time income from his business marketing whole food nutrition supplements. He then decided to share what he had learned on his way to becoming a successful businessman through writing. Today, Tom teaches new and established authors and writers how to have incredible success by writing and selling ebooks.
His other books include The Kindle Publishing Bible and The Kindle Formatting Bible, among others. You can learn more about Tom at his marketing blog. Connect with Tom on Facebook and Twitter @Juicetom