I got an email from a woman who told me about her fear of rejection. She has always had a passion for writing, but fear being rejected. She wanted to convince herself that her writing talents were good enough to share with the whole world.
The whole world? That’s a lot of people to please. How could I help her?
I started typing and words were just flowing out. I hit send and then realized she’s not the only one who fears creating something and putting it out there. If it is not perfect and loved by all, we don’t want to do it.
Perfection is the killer of many dreams.
We can’t please everyone
If we write, blog, sing, act, dance, cook, or create anything, the reality is not everyone will love it. We have no idea how something we create will be received and we definitely cannot please every single person.
I told her don’t convince herself her writing was great enough for the whole world. That is the wrong approach. Don’t even think about what others will think.
Just write because that’s what she wanted to do.
“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.” – Steven Pressfield
Do what makes you feel alive
When I was younger I loved to draw. I would use photos of baseball players in magazines and sketch them. I built model airplanes. I took a drawing class and photography class in high school. I took an acting class in college. I loved all of it.
When I felt stuck in life, I know one of the biggest reasons I didn’t feel happy. My creativity was missing from my life. After college, I didn’t do as much. When I wasn’t working, I watched a lot of TV.
My job at the restaurant didn’t allow me to be creative in the way I really enjoyed. I was just a robot doing the same thing every time.
When I started this blog, I felt excited again. I was able to use my creativity for all aspects of this blog. Though I had never developed a iPhone app, it was so cool to take an idea in my mind and start to see it come to life. That is the type of creativity I enjoy.
What makes you feel alive? Do you have a passion for something, but too scared to do it?
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” - Steven Pressfield
We are our own worst critics
How do we know if our talents are good or bad if we don’t let others see it? We have no idea so we listen to our inner voice.
If I had listened to my inner voice, I would not have started this blog. Here is what that inner voice would have reminded me:
- You did not enjoy writing in high school and college
- You have failed other blogs
- Your life is not perfect so you should not be writing about personal development
- There are thousands of other blogs like yours
- You are not the best writer
If I didn’t think I was good enough, my ebook Get a Life That Doesn’t Suck would not have been written.
The ebook was a wake up call for so many people. They loved it. They have shared it with friends and family. When I hear that, it makes me feel great that I didn’t second guess whether or not I was good enough to write an ebook. I did it because I knew I had a message I needed to share.
Even two years of blogging, I still mess up on grammar. I don’t know all the rules about when to punctuate. I make spelling errors. I know I have lots of room to improve. Though I am not the best, that doesn’t stop me from continuing to write because that is what I like to do.
Also think about it this way. We’re doing a disservice to people in this world by holding back on what it is we want to create. There is someone out there waiting for us to do what we do.
It might not reach millions, but even if we reached hundreds or thousands of true fans, that still makes a difference in their lives.
Two writers who did what made them feel alive
Here are two writers that no one knew about before they became famous. They were living a conventional life until they decided to follow their first love.
JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, had a passion for writing. She had been writing since she was six. She wasn’t making a living from it though. She was divorced, a single mother, living off government benefits, and at rock bottom.
She just wanted to write a story that came to her one day while riding the train. She wrote because that was what she wanted to do. She talked about being at the lowest point in her life and how it was a blessing in disguise.
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Writing is what made her feel alive and and that’s what she focused on. The rest is history.
Let me give you another example. Stephanie Meyer is the author of the Twilight book series that is a worldwide sensation and has been made into movies.
In her bio it said, “She had considered going to law school because she felt she had no chance of becoming a writer.”
In high school, her former English teacher remembered her as “bright but not overly so.”
Still when she came up with the idea for Twilight, she started writing. In three months she completed the manuscriptl. The book was meant to be just for her own enjoyment. She never intended to publish it. Her sister read it, and thought it was great, and convinced her to try and find a publisher. Here is the rest of the story from Wikipedia.
“Of the 15 letters she wrote, five went unanswered, nine brought rejections, and the last was a positive response from Jodi Reamer of Writers House. Eight publishers competed for the rights to publish Twilight in a 2003 auction. By November, Meyer had signed a $750,000 three-book deal with Little, Brown and Company. Twilight was published in 2005 with a print run of 75,000 copies. It reached #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Chapter Books within a month of its release, and later rose to #1. Foreign rights to the novel were sold to over 26 countries. The novel was named the Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Editor’s Choice.”
You might think they got lucky. They are rich and famous and you are just a nobody. Guess what? They were a nobody. They were no different than you or I. They were two women who lived a conventional life. Both thought a life as a writer was not going to happen for them. When they did take a chance, luck found them.
All that would not have been possible if they didn’t write the book they wanted to write, regardless of what others thought. Boy wizard or vampire romance? Sounds completely insane.
What is calling you on the inside? What part of your soul needs to be expressed? It can be a new job, but it can also just be a hobby, a new skill, a new language, or writing your first novel.
I know there is something you have wanted to do, but have always been scared because you don’t know if it will be good or not. If you’re scared of doing it, then it is what you should be doing.
“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” – Steven Pressfield