For the past two days, I have been wrestling with a number of seemingly random negative and fear inducing thoughts. One of my goals for this year has been to submit short pieces of my writing to various publications. My strategy was to create a spreadsheet to document all of the submissions and the subsequent rejections that I anticipate I will receive. My goal was to strive for as many rejections as possible.
Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it?
But, it would mean that I am writing, and even more importantly, I am putting aside all of the fear that seems to co-exist with this vocational pursuit. At the time I created this goal and decided that I was going to send these pieces of creative work out into the world, it seemed innocuous. Really what is the big deal? All writers are subject to rejection, criticism, dismissive editors, and long waits before one may hear anything back from the publication they submitted their work to. Right?
Most writers know that this process is about moving forward, learning the craft, recognizing that the work may not be a good fit for a publication at that particular time but may in fact, fit somewhere else. And truthfully, how would anyone aside from you ever know whether or not you submitted something.
So with all of this knowledge firmly ensconced in my mind, as I began preparing to send something out for the very first time, I found myself in a strange twilight zone filled with fear. It was like an out of control hamster on a wheel was flinging chaotic thoughts around my head. I must have talked myself out of this submission process a hundred times.
Enough. I have taught others how to build resilience skills so why couldn’t I do the same for myself? I started by writing out some of the thoughts that had taking up a lot of real estate in my mind. They ranged from self-criticism to self-disgust to self-shaming and looked a bit like this:
Why even bother – this is an exercise in futility – there is no way I am as competent as other writers? I can’t even format these documents properly so why would an editor even bother to look at what I have written? How can you write a bio if you have never published anything? And really who sets a goal to to count all of the rejections they receive as a writer?
And so on…these horrible thoughts continually popped across my thought screen, and even occurred while I was sleeping, so yesterday I decided that was enough.
Time to flip these fears and really look at what the downside to not submitting my writing might be. At the end of this exercise, I realized that I would be left with paralyzing regret if I didn’t start somewhere. I would be missing out on all of the learning moments from the process and if I keep at this, eventually I may end up with a notation other than a rejection to enter into my spreadsheet.
So I flipped my fear around, and have just sent my first piece of work out. Regardless of what happens with this, I am in the process of reinventing my life and recognize that small steps will move me closer to where I want to go. And if I want to pursue writing as a craft, I will need to challenge those negative thoughts and keep moving forward.
What about you? How do you flip your fears and move forward in spite of all of the thoughts that may fill your mind with negativity and prevent you from doing what you really wish to do?