How I Went From Scared Witless to Being a Published Author

published author

Note from the Editor-in-Chief: I asked Laura Tong to write this article to celebrate her first published book. It's an inspiring story because she went from doubting her ability to write to creating a wonderful book. 

Click here to grab Laura's book, The Life-Changing Power of NO

Does the thought of ‘putting yourself out there’ scare you to death?

Do you believe your words and stories don’t matter?

Are you flat out scared your writing just isn’t good enough?

I was.

Like you, I thought no one would ever want to read what I wrote.

I was convinced my ideas stank, my story-telling sucked, and my writing had as much ‘artistry’ as a plank of wood.

I would strain for hours to find the perfect word. Then instantly delete what I’d written.

In a previous age, my wastepaper basket would have been overflowing with crumpled paper, each with a sad, solitary discarded line.

Instead, I’d hit ‘delete’ so much I’d worn the lettering off the key. Which didn’t matter because I could find it blindfolded.

And maybe, like you, I had a period when I thought maybe I should stop writing. For good.

Because, after all, if my writing was any darn good, I wouldn’t feel like that, would I? I mean, great writers, successful writers, always knew how good they were, right?

Or did they?

I had a period where I thought I might not be good enough to publish.” Stephen King

Notice, Stephen says ‘not good enough to publish.’ He doesn’t say ‘not good enough to sell a million copies, or more.’

Come on – this is one of the most commercially successful writers…ever.

Obviously, whether you think your writing is good or not has no bearing on the truth. Everyone writer has moments, days or even years of self-doubt. Even the greats.

So think about this for a moment: Maybe, just maybe, the only real difference between Stephen and you is that a gazillion people have seen his writing and only a handful, if that, have seen yours.

OK, if that’s too much of a stretch, try this: maybe the only difference between you and [insert successful writer of your choice] is that more people have seen their writing than yours. A lot more.

It’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?

After all, how can the world give your writing a standing ovation if you haven’t shared it with them yet?

How can the world beat a path to your door, if you bury you and your writing underground like a mole?

And how can you genuinely know if your writing is any good unless you stop procrastinating, finish that work, publish the damn thing and promote it to hell and back?

The short answer is: you can’t. Long answer: you can’t.

Now, I’ve got a long way to go to reach Stephen’s level 🙂

And maybe I never will.

But thousands of people read and share my words. Successful writers take an interest. They help me out. They take time to encourage me.

And I’ve actually finished my first book since starting to write seriously. Finished and published. And I’m not hiding it, I’m promoting it because I’m proud of it and its message.

So how do you ‘put yourself out there’ when you’re scared you to death?

How do you believe your words and stories matter?

That your writing is good enough?

The One Word That Will Guarantee You Success As A Writer

One word! Get out of here! How can one anything guarantee something as precious as being in print? As having rabid fans. Of earning your living as a writer.

And the one word that guaranteed Hemingway, Stephen King and pretty much every other great writer success doesn’t need to be searched for in a thesaurus. Because you already know,  but never use it:

‘No!’

‘No’ is the only word that will convince your subconscious that you are going to succeed as a writer no matter what.

Because being a successful writer takes:

  • Saying ‘no’ to everything that steals your time away from writing.
  • Everything that clutters up your brain and overpowers your creative thoughts.
  • And absolutely everything that undermines your belief that you can succeed.

I used to be everybody’s go-to person, the ultimate people-pleaser. I accepted every invitation, every opportunity, task, commitment and responsibility that barged into my day.

And my dream of being a writer went to the wall.

And it trashed my self-esteem. And a writer with no self-belief or confidence doesn’t write for long. Or if they do, they never have the courage to put it out there.

If I could turn the clock back, I would wrench the hands off it with anger over all the years I wasted. For all that being ever helpful and compliant stole from me.

All that failing to say ‘no’ lost me in succeeding as a writer so many years earlier.

But I turned it around by writing about the very thing that held me back.

Dream of being a writer?

I’ve put all the tools and techniques that have worked for me in gaining enough time, energy and belief to be a writer into my new book ‘The Life Changing Power of No!’. And I’ve included some excerpts below that alone will start to solve your problem.

If you want to be a writer then you need to understand what you lose by forever saying ‘yes’ and not saying ‘no’:

  1. You lose time to do the things you love.

You can choose to chuck out your writing dream by not making sufficient time to learn, to improve and to write. You can throw your notebook in the garbage, along with all your desires to move people with your brilliant words and outstanding ideas.

But then what? What life are you looking at then? Is it one you want?

“Your to-do list is close to impossible, but that’s seriously old news, I know. The things you love to do can take a hike because there are no minutes, let alone hours, left. Your hobbies, your passions, all your just-for-fun activities, they’re never going to feature.

If you’re going to keep on saying ‘yes’ the kindest thing is to say goodbye to them one last time and dump them in the trash can.”

Put your writing first. The world and your subconscious will see that you’re serious about what you craft. They’ll sit up and take notice.

2. You lose self-respect.

All the time I put my writing to the back of the queue, my subconscious questioned me relentlessly about why I bothered to write at all.

Good question. It was never going to work. Maybe I should stop torturing myself and just focus on a normal job

My writing went nowhere all the time I said ‘yes’ to everything. My stress levels, oh they flourished just fine, though, and my feelings of overwhelm and resentment alongside them.

Every time you say “yes, okay” when you mean “no, I don’t want to” your own desires are being steamrollered by what someone else wants. But your desires don’t go away just because you push them to the back of the queue.

They hang around discontentedly, festering in the background. Heck, they burn through your self-respect with ever-present nagging reminders you didn’t get what you wanted. You gave in to someone else’s demands… again.

And there’s worse…

You likely feel resentful when it feels like someone is taking advantage of you. When they ask too much, too often. It doesn’t feel good to be used, to be taken advantage of, right?

By always saying ‘yes’ I inadvertently set the rules for the way I should be treated. By always meeting every request, I silently said: “Hey, that’s okay, go ahead – keep asking!”

My self-respect (and writing) didn’t flourish until I said ‘yes’ to my dream and ‘no’ to everything and everyone else less important.

3. You lose other people’s respect.

Why make life hard? It’s tricky enough as it is. Yet you can so easily, inadvertently make if so much more difficult.

When you repeatedly say ‘yes,’ the requests never stop. You end up drowning in additional tasks and commitments, to say nothing of responsibilities.

It may be subconscious, but over time, others begin to stop thinking about your feelings, wishes, even your rights. Why? Because you’ve never given them any reason to consider these. By saying ‘yes’ repeatedly, you’ve created an association with what they want, not with what you want.

And that link grows ever stronger with each ‘yes’ you give them.

You don’t need to shout about being a writer, certainly not now. You don’t even need to share your writing dream unless it’s with a trusted confidant – there are too many dream-stealers out there.

But you need to make time for your writing – and that’s not going to happen if you run around doing everyone else’s tasks, taking on their commitments.

Let others know you’re busy, too busy to do everything. Be very selective in what you say ‘yes’ to because each one will steal time away from your writing dream.

4. You lose self-confidence, and others lose confidence in you.

Questioning everything you write isn’t the same as objective critique – have you found that?

It took me way too long to realize that scrutinizing each word, picking apart every sentence and seeing only fault after fault… was merely my lack of confidence in my ability.

And I traced it directly back to never having relied on my own opinion. To never standing up for myself or my ideas. To always putting someone else’s thoughts or beliefs before mine.

I’d taught my brain to believe everyone else’s opinion was more valid. And that meant that mine was inferior, less valid, even worthless.

“Saying what you think others want to hear seems a nice way to make them feel good. In theory, it should also help to eliminate conflict. No one wants to be seen upsetting people and causing conflict, do they? That’s just a breeding ground for guilt.

It’s a mean trick of life though that it doesn’t actually work out that way.

The truth is often when people confide in you, they’re silently asking for your advice. If you’re just nodding blindly and saying ‘yes,’ most people pick up on that.

The upshot is they don’t really feel that much better. Or that much nearer a solution to their problem. So next time, they avoid you and confide in someone else.

Being confided in shows that someone trusts and respects you. And when they don’t, your self-esteem and confidence take a nosedive.”

It sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s true. My self-confidence was so low, my writing didn’t stand a chance.

Writers, great and successful writers, have strong opinions and voice those opinions in their writings, directly or through their characters.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” Virginia Wolf

How can your audience value your opinion, if you don’t? How can they trust you, if you don’t trust yourself?

5. You become less lovable in your mind.

A writer needs readers. Obvious, right? Because the world doesn’t need another library of unread books.

Ideas burn brightly because fans literally fan the flames of interest and excitement for a book. But as that mean inner voice has whispered to you, readers need to like you to get busy shouting about how great your writing is. They need to fall in love with you and your ideas.

There are some great people you want to admire and respect you, just as you do them. You see the way they’re making the life they want. How they’re following their dreams and standing up for what’s important to them.

You hear them saying ‘no’ and wish you could too. You ache for them to see how similar you are, how great you could get on. Yet they seem disinterested in you. You’re just another blip on their radar.

And that totally eats away at how likable and lovable you feel.

But they’ll never recognize the wonderful you if you keep hiding under all those ‘’yeses’’.

How are you ever going to succeed or even finish your book if you believe no one can fall for the real you?

Start a love affair with yourself and with your writing dream by making it the only important task you accomplish every day.

Say the word and set yourself free.

It’s time to say ‘no’.

No! to that mean inner voice that whispers that everything you put down has already been written and told.

No! to everyone who tells you success is what happens to other people.

And no! to everything that stops you proving them both wrong.

Imagine others applauding your writing.

In fact, not just applauding but coming back for more.

And paying for it, happily.

Your biggest challenge in writing is belief that you can do this. Lack of belief causes you daily problems in discipline – the discipline needed to be a successful writer. It stops you sitting each day and writing the words you need to hit your target and finish that post, or book or screenplay.

And getting it out there. Really out there so the world takes notice.

Saying ‘no’  to everything and everyone that doesn’t serve you or your dream gives you the belief you need to flourish as a writer.

And to hang on when you self-doubt rears it’s head.

This is your time.

Say ‘yes’ to your success.

And ‘no’ to everything else.

Add up all the hidden costs of saying ‘yes’ and realize as a writer – you simply can’t afford it.

So if you’re interested in learning:

How to overcome lack of confidence and be more assertive.
How to say ‘no’ without guilt or conflict (even to difficult people)
How to grab back control of your life to have the time to do what’s important for you.

Then just click here to get The Life-Changing Power of NO! 

About the author

Laura Tong

Laura Tong is the Editor here at Write To Done and her writing regularly features on such top blogs as Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and of course Write To Done. Learning to say ‘no’ to the unimportant things to free up time to write is one of the key elements she learned to being a successful writer. Download her free cheat sheet: 5 Guilt-Free Ways To Say No Without Offending Anyone (Even If You Hate Conflict). She’s a published author (traditional and indie) and has written books as diverse as luxury travel, surreal fiction, autobiographical and personal development. You can get her latest book here: The Life-Changing Power of NO!. Laura runs her own blog at PositivelyHappy.Me.

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