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How to Break Through the Barriers That Hold Writers Back

Carol Tice

I needed to get out of the library, but the door was blocked. And I’m claustrophobic.

My kids were acting up and I really needed to get them out of there, increasing my sense of panic.

But a mom with a toddler and infant rolled up to the door of the children’s entrance just ahead of me, reached for the knob, and then lost focus. Her toddler wandered off to explore the book-sale area near the door.

And there this young mom stood, oblivious, for what seemed like eternity, blocking the way.

I felt trapped

There’s something that unleashes the animal in us when we feel cornered, hm?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think straight.

I tried my usual tactics for avoiding a claustrophobic panic.

I looked somewhere else. I took deep breaths.

Finally, I covered my eyes with my hands to block out the sight of the blockade standing between me and freedom. I stayed that way a long time, breathing, praying my kids would keep it together until we could get outside.

I looked again, and she was still there.

It was time to act. I couldn’t stay where I was anymore.

“I’m claustrophobic!” I said, fighting to keep a whine of panic from creeping into my voice. “I need to get out the door.”

And like magic, she moved her stroller and belongings and children out of the way, and I opened the door and was gone.

How to have a breakthrough

This incident reminded me of all the barriers that stop freelance writers from having the career they want. All the fears that hold us back.

And what makes a breakthrough finally happen.

Here’s what does it:

When your discomfort at being stuck where you are becomes greater than your fear of what you must do to move forward, you jump to the next level in your career.

You become willing to do something potentially embarrassing — like announcing loudly in a quiet library that you’re freaking out because your way is blocked.

You take the risk, because you have to.

Your comfort zone is no longer comfortable.

You’ve got to move forward now, beyond this point, or you feel like you’ll bust.

So the question is:

Are you more scared of sending marketing emails, or more scared that you’ll never earn a decent hourly rate?

Are you more terrified of introducing yourself at networking events, or of never seeing your byline in a quality magazine?

If you have the burning desire to make your living with your writing, one day that tipping point arrives where you’re ready to put yourself out there.

We may not do it gracefully or perfectly at first, but we step forward and start to ask for what we need.

And then, the doors swing open.

What’s standing in your way? Leave a comment and tell us what you plan to do to break through.