Have you written something new, and these thoughts invaded your mind:
“People aren’t going to buy this!”
“What if somebody leaves you a scathing review?”
“You’ve never written anything like this before. What are you doing? You’re going to mess up!”
I’m writing something new right now: a short story. It‘s scaring the sh*t out of me!
It’s completely different from any of my previous writing projects. Why? I’m publishing it on Amazon. The whole world will see it (under a pen name, of course).
Someone may buy the book. Someone may leave a fiery, negative review of my book.
Oh well, what else am I supposed to do? It’s a writer’s life. You learn from feedback.
How Did It Come to This?
According to one source, the unofficial minimum word count for publishing Amazon eBooks is 2,500 words. I never in my life thought I would write stories longer than merely 2,000 words. When I created an Overwatch fanfic over 8,000 words, my mindset changed. Meant to be a breezy 500-word short, I had to break it into chapters for the follower who requested the story.
I was deep into that fanfic. Why not produce the same ritual of writing short stories for Amazon?
Long ago, I had a dream to be a fantastic novelist only to slip it under the rug with excuses. My biggest one was writing clear dialogue. All the quotation inserts, commas, and when to start new paragraphs when characters spoke confused my young mind. I switched to scriptwriting instead. I had fewer grammatical rules to worry about.
Now, I’m better at writing prose. My dialogue writing is decent. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m not afraid to revise them.
You must let go of the fear of making mistakes. Eventually, you will create some writing whoopsies. It’s all part of the writer’s journey. I’m sure you know somebody who hasn’t come out as a successful writer without a trail of failures and errors.
If you’re starting your line of short stories, take this message from Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury:
“The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week — it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year, you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.”
The only way you’ll become a better writer is to write, publish, and repeat. Sure, your first book you’ll publish will probably suck. After 10, 20, or 30 books, you’ll rock. Plus, you’ll have an impressive line of books under your belt.
How to Keep Writing When You’re Terrified of It
You’re still scared of putting your words on paper or your computer? How do you get over it?
1. Make Writing a Habit 📝
You don’t have to write the next 1,000-page bestselling novel or an epic full-length screenplay. Start small.
Ernest Hemingway has written many full-length stories during his lifetime. One story in particular, For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn, was his shortest. You can create works starting with 300 words and move up from there on a daily or weekly basis. Keep pushing your limits.
Next thing you know, you’ll have written a 10,000-word novella.
2. Continuously Farm for Ideas 💡
Read from others. Watch movies. Experience life. Inspiration is everywhere. Transmute what you consume into your next writing project.
Every day, I write about nine ideas in an idea journal after reading articles online (mainly Medium), reading books, and watching YouTube videos. Sometimes, ideas pop up during my morning walks. Whenever it happens, I place them on my Checklist app on my phone so I won’t forget.
3. Write What You Enjoy ❤️
If writing cheesy Victorian romances aren’t your cup of tea, go ahead and write your cowboy sci-fi thrillers set on terraformed Mars. Nobody’s stopping you!
You’ll have more energy writing what you enjoy than writing what you can’t stand.
4. Reward Yourself For Your Progress 🍦
Once you get into the habit of smashing your writing goals, remember to reward yourself. Go out of for a massage, cherish your favorite ice cream, play videogames, or take a weekend vacation out of town.
Rewarding yourself after a writing feat will trigger your brain to do it on repeat. Setting up your writing goal is your trigger, the writing is the process, and the reward is the last on the cycle.
Writing Goal (trigger) → Writing (process) → Reward!
Ingrain this cycle into your brain, and your writing habit will improve.
Writing is not so scary until you take it one step at a time and repeat it often. You can’t reach the top of Mt. Everest until you have taken the first step.
You’ll crave to write more once you receive the rewards from it. You might win $100 from a local short story competition. Perhaps you’ll make enough income from self-publishing your Martian cowboy sci-fi thrillers to replace your day job.
As for my new self-publishing journey, let’s see what happens.
Whatever writing woes you’re going through, I wish you all the best and kick fear out of the park!
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Rejection is only progress towards your success.