I have been working on my guide for freelancers for quite some time now. The first draft was almost finished in December, and I just haven’t been able to get on and finish it since then. So little needed doing to get it sorted and I just haven’t been able to do it.
After talking this through I realised what it was. Publishing things on my blog isn’t scary at all, including my personal (now defunct) blogs I have been doing this for over five years. It’s all fine! But, writing a book?! Scary! Who do I think I am to be able to do this? Who do I think I am to put a book together? Even if it is just going to be an eBook.
There was a part of me that was rationalising that I am paid to write for my clients so I must be ok at the very least. When I worked in a PR agency I developed, pitched and wrote several pieces that ended up published in trade press. Including one that ended up on the front cover of Call Centre Europe! Oh the excitement! This was a few years ago now, the trade press was really badly wiped out around 2001-2002. Of course, all of those were checked by multiple people and published under my client’s names, never mine.
But that still didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t working on it. I just didn’t and then felt increasingly guilty as each month I wasn’t able to tick off ‘finish first draft’ from my to do list. Or even my yearly goals.
I was talking this through with someone, who is a writer, and we talked about how I can’t hide when I write a book. I am confident playing in the concert band, even though I am still very much learning to get into the flute again – I am currently working towards my grade 4! But this is because we have a strong flute section and I can hide. I will even cheerfully admit to miming some of the more difficult passages in performances, although of course I spend a lot of time practicing so that over time I am miming less and less and playing more. But even if I do play a wrong note in the performance, it is highly unlikely a member of the audience will stand up and point and say ‘that girl in the wheelchair totally messed that piece up’.
It is my name on the front of the book and by taking the time to write it and publish it I am saying I am a writer. Which is daft – I am a writer, I sell my writing skills to my clients (among the rest of the work I do for them), but somehow this feels so very different. I guess I am scared that someone will be mean about my work in public, on Amazon, on Twitter, to my face. I really do believe in trying to stick to the saying ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything’ but there are a lot of nasty people on the internet who really do not do that. The chances are it is highly likely that someone or many will say it. But I shouldn’t let that stop me.
Who do I think I am to stand up and give advice to people starting out as a freelancer? Well, of course there is all of my qualifications and experience , but for that scared part of my brain that wasn’t enough. Of course this is imposter’s syndrome. From Wikipedia;
Impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women
Ah yes, I know that feeling. I think a lot of women do, so I need to ignore it and keep going. Difficult, but so much easier after it was all talked out and I did some journalling too.
I also realised that I hadn’t told anyone about my self imposed deadlines, including my husband, I had kept them quietly written down in my bullet journal. Ah! Major mistake! Leo Babuta talks about accountability and this was what I was missing. With my flute practice I have my grade examination in November that I am working towards and I don’t want to let the rest of the band down, so I rehears all of our performance pieces a lot. After talking it through I emailed a colleague from ROH Bridge and asked her if I could send her my first draft. She agreed and I pushed myself to get it done before I went on holiday. I printed it out as the last thing I did before I put my out of office on. I felt so much better for doing so.
So, I commit here to having an eBook published by September. That is it.
No more hiding, regardless of how utterly vulnerable and exposed I feel in doing it!