You’ve thought about it for years: becoming a writer. But something is holding you back. What could it be? Perhaps it’s one of these three destructive traits.

Pessimism

Ah yes, the unreasonable belief that everything will go wrong, always. This trait is characterized by a lack of hope, a smarmy disposition, and an insufferable amount of arrogance.

Sometimes we mistake optimism for naivete. This is a huge mistake, especially for a writer. The only way you’ll make it in this world is with a hefty stockpile of optimism. Because you’re going to be rejected. Over and over again. That’s just the process. Don’t take it personally. Don’t be jaded. It’s okay to be a terrible writer because you will get better, but not if you give up.

So don’t give up!

Pessimism will tell you to stop trying. Why try when you know everything, eventually, goes wrong?

Why? Because, eventually, something will go right. It’s naive to think that failure is the only possibility. The more times you attempt something the better your odds of success. That’s not hope speaking, that’s statistics.

So get out there, write 1,000 stories, get rejected 1,000 times, but don’t be discouraged. Maybe story 1,001 will do the trick. Maybe not. At least you had the fun of trying.

Cynicism

Everyone is out for themselves, so why shouldn’t I be?

Because you’re wrong. The further you go in your journey, the more you’ll discover one, undeniable, truth- People want to help you.

I don’t mean your parents or your friends. I’m talking about people with no vested interest in your success. Strangers.

Strangers will want to help you. They will go out of their way to help you.

A cynic, will ask themselves- Why is this person helping me? What do they want? What’s their motive?

The answer, much to the cynic’s surprise, is this- Nothing. Because someone along the line helped them. Successful people know that they can never repay those to whom they owe their success. So what do they do? They pay it forward.

Consider yourself lucky if you are the recipient of this form of gratitude, and whatever you do, don’t question motives. Just be thankful.

Because, a few years from now you’ll be the successful one, and you’ll understand why it’s important to help strangers. To pay it forward.

Cowardice

My writing was a pursuit that, for years, I kept secret. I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t even tell my wife.

Do you know why?

I was scared.

I’m still scared. I’m scared what people might think of me, of being judged.  

In my mind, I’ve constructed an avatar- The Perfect Writer. In my worst nightmares this person will stumble upon my blog or a story I’ve written, and out of sheer malice, they’ll hunt me down just to tell me what a failure I am. To judge me. To drive me from the craft. To eradicate me as if I was some virulent infection threatening to destroy the thing they hold most dear.

But you know what?

Fuck The Perfect Writer.

I’m not, and will never be, The Perfect Writer.

The Perfect Writer is just my fear. My fear of not living up to expectations. My fear of being judged. My fear of failure.

Most of all, The Perfect Writer is my fear of being vulnerable. Of saying to everyone I love, to the people who love me: This is who I am. This is what I aspire to be.  

Fear, in the end, is nothing when you compare it to our inescapable conclusion- Death.

You only get one go-around. One day, you and I will die. It’s unavoidable. On that day do we really want to look back and say that fear, that worthless emotion, kept us from being who we were always meant to be?

I bet not.  I hope not.

So, go forth and write! And damn all the excuses.