As a writer, I’m a thinker by nature. I need to think about what topics to delve into and how to best express them. But sometimes, thinking can get me into trouble.
Maybe you can relate.
Often, our thinking goes into overdrive and turns into fixating. And we end up spending (or should I say “wasting”?) a lot of time ruminating on things that don’t matter, things that keep us worried and distracted from reaching our goals.
Here are four things you can stop worrying about — forever:
1. People who are doing better than you
We’ve all been there.
“What — THAT book is a bestseller? The plot is terrible and the writing is filled with grammatical errors!”
“My four-year-old could have come up with that!”
“I had that same idea last year. They just got lucky.”
Really, this reaction is more about us than it is about them. We could have done better if only we’d actually written that novel or pitched the idea.
But where the successful person took action, we stalled.
Action trumps perfection. Stop thinking about all the worse-than-you writers and entrepreneurs who are making it big and instead, use them as motivation.
After all, if they can land that awesome assignment or end up on the bestsellers list even with all their flaws, you can do it, too. If you only forget perfection and take action.
2. The competition
It’s a bad idea to share your ideas and contacts in such a competitive market. After all, there’s only so much to go around, right?
In my 16-year career as a freelance writer, I’ve discovered there are more than enough opportunities for everyone.
And the more I helped out writers who wanted to brainstorm ideas or know how to contact the nutrition editor at Health magazine, the more other writers shared information and opportunities with me.
In fact, I can calculate at least $50,000 of work over the years that came from networking not with editors or agents, but with other writers who passed my name along to people needing writing.
Wall yourself off from other writers because they’re your “competition” and the universe will wall you off from writing opportunities. Instead, consider other writers your friends and colleagues, and share, share, share.
3. What the market wants
The surest way to lose your unique style and quash your brilliant ideas is to become obsessed with figuring out what the market wants.
Often, the market doesn’t even know what it wants until it gets it. How could it?
Of course, you want to create something others will like, but don’t lose your voice trying to conform to what you imagine will appeal to the largest demographic.
Maybe you’ll start a trend instead of following one.
A “no” from a gatekeeper can bring on obsessive thoughts in any person’s mind:
- What’s wrong with my work?
- What’s wrong with ME?
- Maybe I should just quit.
The people who succeed in this world are the ones who can blast past rejection.
After all, this is a numbers game. What would have happened if JK Rowling hadn’t racked up all those rejections for the Harry Potter series, or Steve Jobs had never returned to Apple after being fired from the company he started?
Rejection isn’t about you. It isn’t even about your work. It’s a sign that what you have isn’t exactly what the permission-givers need right now.
I got 500 rejections from magazine editors — at least — and still made a great living writing mainly for magazines. For me, each “no” was a stepping stone to the next “yes.”
Maybe the same can be true for you… if you can let go of what your friends are doing, what the world wants, and what the critics think — and just persevere.
How about you? What do you need to stop worrying about? Share in the comments.