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The Two Kinds of Fears Freelance Writers Face — and How to Slay Them Both

Carol Tice

Recently, I asked about what scares you.

I wanted to know more about what is holding freelance writers back from achieving their goals and earning more.

Boy, did I get an earful.

More than 225 writers took my survey.

I’ll be sharing more of what I learned from your answers later this week, but for now let’s say this: You’re scared.

In sifting through your comments, I also realized something.

There are two basic types of fears that paralyze freelance writers and keep them from having the writing careers they want.

  • Fears of things that are probably going to happen, if you pursue freelancing

  • Fears of things that are unlikely to happen to most freelancers

An example of a likely fear is the fear that you’ll be rejected when you send out query letters.

An example of an improbable, almost irrational fear is that one mistake you make will ruin your chances of being a freelance writer.

How can you stop the fears?

Though there are two types of fears that plague freelancers, there is really only one solution.

You reduce fear by taking action.

It’s been said that anxiety is uncertainty multiplied by powerlessness.

The more we sit and worry about what might happen and don’t try anything, the more unsure of ourselves we feel. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you take action, you take back control.

You are brave enough to experiment with the world and see what happens.

Instead of worrying, send out some query letters. You’ll see that after they get rejected, you don’t die.

If you write much, you’re sure to make a mistake sooner or later. I’ve made some grand ones.

You’ll discover there is no universal editor network that will be notified never to hire you again.

You will live to write another day.

So ask your editor that thing that you’re wondering about. You’ll be surprised to discover she doesn’t bite.

Ask your prospect 40 questions before you agree to do the gig, even though you’re worried it makes you seem like you don’t know enough. In fact, it makes you look pro.

What if you’re afraid you don’t know enough?

This is actually one of the big fears we saw in our survey.

If you feel like you’re not legit, that may be in your head.

Or it may be that you have some real knowledge gaps and need to learn more.

Much of the good-paying writing work in print, for instance, requires some journalism chops. If you don’t have that skill, you may be getting left out.

Sometimes, a little more training can give you the confidence you’ve been missing, to go after — and land — the big-money writing assignments.