It’s been on your Bucket List for over a year now. Self-publish this book. You’ve done everything you were supposed to. You wrote; you rewrote. People gave you feedback, you were a little shaken by it, but in the end, your mess of a first draft somehow transformed into a book people might actually want to read.
You’ve always known self-publishing was your end goal, at least for your debut novel. But you’re afraid. What if people don’t like it? What if you don’t make any money? What if it’s the worst book anyone has ever tried to sell?
Why even bother? Why take the risk?
Risks can make or break an actively aspiring writer’s career. We take them often, but the big ones make us uncomfortable. A risk can work out in your favor, and make you look really good. A risk can also feel like a strike against you, and leave a dent in the reputation you only just started to build.
We always consider the consequences of what happens if we do risk everything, and everything goes wrong. There’s another question you should always ask, after contemplating whether or not a risk is worth taking.
Should you take the risk? Also: What happens if you never do?
There are two possibilities, none of them favorable to you: you’ll miss your chance, or you’ll never work up the courage to even try.
If you don’t take the risk, someone else will. Or you will become so used to talking yourself out of ‘just going for it’ that you start to forget why you ever even considered it at all. This is how Giving Up often happens – gradually; a repeated decision ‘not to,’ until you stop trying to convince yourself you should.
I urge you to take the risk – your risk. You already know what it is. You want to send that query letter, but all the What Ifs are just too much to bear. Or there’s something you’ve been wanting to write about for awhile, but it’s personal and it’s a memory you aren’t sure you want to bring up again right now. You’re torn between trying to forget and using words to Deal With It.
Whatever it is, the outcome of taking the leap won’t be worse than wondering what might have happened if you would have – even though you never did. Insert cliches about how short life is, how you never know until you try, how pointless it is to wait when you can Just Do It.
If it helps to tell someone about the risk you haven’t taken yet, leave it down in the comments. If not, just keep telling yourself it’s going to be worth trying. You’re going to fail and fall short many times throughout your life as a writer, but you’re also going to succeed and hit the mark, too. Both of these extremes can only happen when you take more risks. Name one successful artist who has ever succeeded by not taking risks.
You can do this. I will if you will. Aaaaaand GO.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.