Fear. Ah the four-letter word that has the power to kill all of your dreams, the proverbial “Oogie Boogie Man” to all writers. The interesting thing about fear is that it can be so subtle we don’t even realize how much it has permeated our lives. At the end of this month (Lord willing) Who Dares Wins Publishing will be releasing my book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. In this book, I give you a blueprint for a solid platform that is easy to maintain and grow and help you form a brand. That is the simple part. The tough part is what you must face before you ever sign up for a FB account.
One of the largest reasons many authors fail is fear. Namely, fear of failure. A few weeks ago we discussed what it meant to be a brand. If you haven’t read this blog, I highly recommend it. One of the largest stumbling blocks for writers is, of all things, using their name.
Writers loooove monikers. Why? Because we are creative souls who feel too confined to tweet using the name of our human self who happens to be trapped in a boring plane of existence?
Or maybe it is because we are afraid to fail. When we put our name on something, we claim it for good and for bad. If all goes well, we are eager to jump in and shout, “That was me! My idea!” But what about when we are facing the unknown? When we cannot count on things turning out rosy?
I know that when I first made the decision to become a writer almost a decade ago I met with massive resistance from friends and family who could not understand why I would walk away from a lucrative career in sales to be…a writer? I am sure they had shared visions of me wearing a beret and hemp sandals, chain-smoking and writing bad poetry in front of Starbucks. And I can laugh now, but those were some dark times.
One year I was buying designer clothes and traveling the world. The next year? I hoped I could scrape together enough loose change to afford a box of crackers, because I’d paid rent and didn’t have any money left for food. I slept on the floor because I didn’t own a bed. My family didn’t speak to me for almost four years. To them, I had thrown away a $50,000 education to pursue a pipe dream.
And on some level, I think, I did too. I don’t think I bought the idea that writing was a genuine career pursuit. Deep down, despite what my cheap business cards said, I felt that I was a hobbyist. I didn’t have a long list of published works to validate who I was and it showed.
I hid behind a moniker…texaswriterchik.
It took years for me to use Kristen Lamb. Why? Because I had to find the courage to name and claim my destiny. I had to rally the courage to dare to dream and take it on the chin if it went to the dogs. Not easy! It is still terrifying, but I sally forth anyway, even when I want to curl in a ball on the couch and forget about being a social media expert. I have all of you and your comments to keep me being brave, to keep me encouraged.
How many of you are on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter using cutesy names? I am not here to upset anyone, but to challenge you and help you grow. Professional best-selling authors don’t use quaint monikers. They display their real name proudly. Do a Twitter search for all the top authors, no matter the genre, and you will see my point.
@AnnaDeStefano @Bob_Mayer @ChristinaDodd @JoeFinder @JamesRollins @TeresaMedeiros @Allison_Brennan
If you are writing with the goal of being published, then you need to take this huge step and face your fear. If you don’t, all your activity on social media is doing little to nothing to build your platform (and it is never too soon to start constructing a platform). If you want to be a published author, then it is good to start acting like one. It will shift your mindset and peel away your excuses.
Texaswriterchik didn’t have a business plan, a budget, or write three hours a day no matter what. KristenLambTX, however, does. Changing my name made me accountable. Once my NAME was on that dream, I suddenly felt the pressure—YIKES—but now I also could claim the credit—YAY!
Fear can undermine your success. It can waste your time branding a moniker. It can keep you spread too thinly by trying to write in all genres and never picking one and getting good at it. Fear can make you feel so overwhelmed you don’t even try. Fear can keep you from ever realizing what you could have been…
…unless you make a decision.
Bob Mayer talks about courage in his book Who Dares Wins. Bob always reminds us that courage is acting in spite of fear. Notice he doesn’t say that to be courageous you won’t feel fear. Fear is a very real and highly valuable emotion. Only sociopaths live a life devoid of fear.
Courage is feeling fear…then doing it anyway.
I am looking forward to helping you build a solid social media presence that is effective and easy to maintain and grow. That is the part I can do. But the facing down the fear part? You have to decide. Nothing worth having is easy. We all have our fears, but we also have a wonderful community of other writers who can empathize, and who are great for immoral support. You don’t have to face the Oogie-Boogie Man alone.
So what are some fears you have overcome? What are some fears you need to overcome? Tell us about it.
Until next time…
Need help facing your fear? I highly recommend Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer workshop. Bring out the warrior inside, and sign up today. Bob also offers an on-line Warrior Writer so no excuses!