Successful Writers Still Get Their Work Done Even When They’re Afraid of Doing It Wrong

Mistakes are essential, even if you’ve been told otherwise.

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There are a lot of reasons people who say they want to “be” writers never actually become successful writers. Or writers at all.

Most of them are psychological.

People want to write, but don’t know how to overcome the mental barriers that make writing so difficult.

That’s one reason this blog morphed into what it has become. I’m a writer. I struggle with writing every day. But I’ve also learned how to make writing happen despite those struggles. And so can you.

Many people can’t write, or publish or promote their work, because they’re afraid of doing something wrong. Like the kid in class who never raises their hand even if they think they have the right answer.

I don’t like being told I’m wrong. I’m afraid of making mistakes even when doing so isn’t going to affect anyone but me. But I still wake up every morning, drink my coffee, and write All The Things anyway.

Because being wrong means you’re learning. You can’t avoid mistakes unless you make them and discover how not to make them again.

You can’t spend all your time trying to avoid mistakes you’ve never made. Writing is an experience. You can read all the books, listen to all the podcasts, subscribe to all the blogs. But if you don’t actually try your hand at writing, putting your work out there, and making yourself vulnerable, you’re never going to reach your goals. You’re never going to “be” a writer.

If you’re afraid of doing things wrong — whatever that means — start by writing on your own. It’s OK to write and not show it to anyone, especially at first. People seeing your work honestly shouldn’t be your only motivation for writing. Especially in the beginning, you have to do it with the expectation that no one is going to read it but you.

So make that a valuable practice arena for you. This is where you get to throw things against the wall and figure out what works and what doesn’t. What fits your style and what doesn’t. What you enjoy writing about and what you could go the rest of your life never writing about again.

Writers who seem like they have all the answers know the best strategies because they kept writing until they figured out what worked for them. No one knows your writing or your style better than you.

No matter what, write the way you think your story should be written. If that’s somehow wrong, you’ll figure it out later. Don’t let that fear or worry stop you before you’ve even gotten the chance to create something amazing.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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4 thoughts on “Successful Writers Still Get Their Work Done Even When They’re Afraid of Doing It Wrong

  1. “I don’t like being told I’m wrong. I’m afraid of making mistakes even when doing so isn’t going to affect anyone but me. But I still wake up every morning, drink my coffee, and write All The Things anyway.”

    ^^This is so me right now. I’m determined to not be that person who keeps holding back because of self-doubt. Thanks for posting this :)

  2. Thank you for yet again another brilliant post. You could not be more right with everything you said. I am often afraid what I write is wrong, so I read it over and over and over again looking for anything that might not sound right. But I do believe any mistakes we make in life, whether in writing or not, teaches us more. It is important to live and learn!

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