Is Fear of Criticism Keeping You From Pursuing Your Dreams?

building your dreams - pursuing your dreams

123rf.com

Do you sometimes feel like the main reason you don’t get busy pursuing some of your dreams is the fear of criticism?

If so, I get it. I’m with you.

Most of my life I had a passion for writing, but what kept me from really pursuing it was the fear that if I was successful, people might criticize me. What if I couldn’t handle that?

That fear is a huge one, and it will hold you back big time. Trust me, I know. I’m 46 years old and just finding the confidence to let the world hear my voice.

But I’m doing it now. I finally stopped worrying about what people think of me.

“So what changed?” you might wonder. Here are some insights I have developed over the past few years as I have ever-so-cautiously cut loose and begun to make my voice heard. 

How I Am Building My Blogging Platform, prt 1: Getting Started

blog1

Image courtesy of Kristina B. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Many people are familiar with, and have purchased, Michael Hyatt’s best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. The purpose of this post is to tell you how I am building my platform. The reason this series may be valuable to you is because I am still “small” enough that you may see your journey in mine, but I have made enough progress, and recently enough, that you may be encouraged that you can make progress too. That is my hope.

My journey into blogging was like a lot of other people’s. I started my blog almost ten years ago with the mistaken notion that a lot of people would care to read my random musings about mundane things in life. When people didn’t flock to read it, I was frustrated. For several years my daily readership hovered between four and eleven (people, not thousand!). The truth is, people care not about your life but about their own. As long as you treat your blog like a personal journal/diary, chances are very high you’ll be the only one who reads it.

On Writing, prt. 6: Losing Your Way

What do you do when you are losing your way?

Writing had been going great up until last Wednesday. Suddenly I found myself losing my way. I completed chapter six and was excited, but I got distracted. I started thinking about getting my proposal finished.

“If I could just get this stupid proposal done and get an agent, he/she could be shopping this book around to publishers while I’m finishing the content.”

“It often takes a long time to get an agent. I’d better try to nail that down while I’m on sabbatical.”

“How are you going to get your proposal finished? You don’t have enough writing experience.” So I spent an afternoon writing an article for a magazine and sending it out.

“You read the other day that non-fiction writers often don’t need agents but can go straight to the publisher. Should you try that? How does that work?”

“Your opening chapter isn’t strong enough. It doesn’t grab the reader’s attention. You need to revise that chapter.” Re-wrote chapter one yesterday.

“Your proposal is too weak. You need to prove that you know the market better.” Spent the rest of yesterday beefing up the proposal.

“You’re lost, dude. You need advice.” Spent time last night scouring the Internet looking for written advice, or for organizations that help writers learn the process.

Woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed. Had five minutes to talk to my wife so I shared this with her and she said, “Write your book. Just finish the chapters. You can do all that other stuff later, but the one thing you can do right now  is keep getting stuff on paper.”

She was right. And so the solution, again, is to keep writing.

In the meantime I have  made some exciting progress this past week. I wrote to a popular spiritual writer and asked if she would consider reading my book (once I find a publisher) and writing an endorsement for me. Endorsements are a big deal for a book. Every endorsement carries with it a group of people who recognize and trust the writer of that endorsement and will buy it on that person’s recommendation. Anyway, a few days later she got back to me and said she is willing to do that. Doesn’t mean she’ll endorse it, but she is willing to read it and if she thinks the book is good she will write the endorsement. That’s exciting.

Also, this past week I secured a name and email address of someone at an agency. I am not ready to send in a proposal yet, but it’s great to have this information on recommendation of someone I trust who knows the business a bit better than I do.

What do you do when you are losing your way? Keep doing what you know. Refuse to remain paralyzed.

On Writing, prt. 5: Progress

Update: No updates in a while because I have been off by myself writing my book. As it stands now, I have five chapters completed, 59 pages, 19,914 words. Feeling like I have found my voice, but not always able to keep it as clear as I’d like. Still, great progress on writing my sucky first draft. This weekend I’ll go to the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing and hopefully get a chance to run some of my work by a few publishers, editors, or agents. I will get critical feedback that will help me come back home and spiff it up as much as possible.

There is even a small chance that somebody might like what they see enough to make me some kind of offer right there on the spot. Hoping and praying this books finds a publisher and an audience, because I have seen the power of these ideas to help people.

On Writing, prt. 4: Finding Your Voice

After my “crash” experience yesterday I realized my problem was really about finding my voice. I determined to just focus on writing my sucky first draft and leave it at that. This allowed me to squeeze out of self-consciousness and settle into “my voice.” I assume most people reading these posts are writers on some level, but a “voice” is a writer’s way of writing. Everyone speaks with a certain voice that is unique to them. But writers have to craft their writing voices, and this can be difficult. I do know blogging regularly over the past few years has helped me begin to settle into a voice. Not a moment I have spent on blogging has been wasted. If you want to be a writer, start writing. Start a blog, and then post regularly. Don’t let anything get in the way. Not even working on your first book. ;-)

Lesson: Adjust expectations. While I don’t want an agent or editor to see crap on the page, the first thing is there must be something on the page. Get something on the page, even if it’s crap. Chances are, when you settle into just getting something on the page, you will free yourself from your perfectionism and be much happier with what you are writing. As you learn to do this, you will find your voice. I only wrote six pages of my second chapter yesterday. It took me all day. But what I wrote was good, and I knew it. I found my voice. I especially know this because my wife cried when she read it. She cried because she recognized what had been missing in my previous work: ME.

Questions: Do you have a dream? Are you pursuing it? If not, why? If you are, are you keeping your expectations reasonable? What struggles are you having and how are you moving through them?