Every so often, unexpected thoughts and memories pop into my head. Some are funny. Some are inconsequential. Some provide fodder for my writing.
A short while back, one of those was a reflection on the good (or just plain interesting) opportunities I let slip through my fingers over the years. I joke that when I try to count those missed opportunites I quickly run out of fingers and toes. Maybe there weren’t that many, but I’ve let more than a couple slip away.
The main reason I let those opportunities slip away was fear. I let fear of failure, of looking like an idiot, of letting a client or editor down, of not being good enough control me.
In my 20/20 hindsight, I realize that was the wrong way to approach many of those situations. Fear is counter productive. Fear is a barrier to expanding skills, markets, and horizons. Caving into the fear is foolish.
When opportunities come up, you need take a chance. You need to jump in. You need to stumble, fall, and then pick yourself up. You might fail. You might not. But you need to embrace failure every so often.
How can you get around your fear? By asking yourself What’s the worst that can happen? You might write something that’s not your best work. You might never work with that client or editor again. Your ego and confidence might take a small hit. It’ll sting for a while, but it won’t kill you or your career.
Then, ask yourself What’s the best that can happen? You might write something really good. You might impress the editor or client so much that they’ll keep you in mind for future work. Your confidence, not to mention your bank balance, will get a boost.
It’s definitely worth taking a chance for the latter. The former might happen, but if it does then you need to roll with it. The life of a professional writer is one of ups and downs. Taking the bad with the good and all that.
That’s not to say you should jump at every opportunity that comes up. Many of them aren’t worth the time or effort — either because the pay is low, the client or editor is a beast to work with, or the subject matter doesn’t catch your interest. Instead, keep an eye open for interesting opportunities. Ones that appeal to your interests, your strengths, or areas into which you want to expand.
If you don’t venture, you don’t gain. You don’t improve or expand your reach. For a professional writer, that’s the first step to the end of a career.
Thoughts? As always, your comments are welcome.
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