Today I am trialling a new format…
- An anecdote from me
- A quote from another writer
- A useful resource and
- A call to action
Asking for Help / Fear of Failure
An anecdote from me
I listened to a recent episode of the Happiness Lab podcast and it seemed very relevant to us writers, so I thought I would share it. It told the story of a Chinese man who suffered a humiliating experience of rejection as a young boy at school. Something that haunted him well into adulthood.
In his 20s he aspired to be an entrepreneur but knew he’d need the courage to ask for lots of help. This prospect seemed insurmountable – until he made the surprising decision – to overcome his fear of rejection by seeking out rejection for 100 days in a row!
Dive into the full story here— I found it funny, engaging, and insightful.
This story spoke to me because writing is such a competitive field. I’ve faced so many challenges along the way. But there’s one thing that made it easier…
Asking for help from others.
But asking for help can feel daunting. What if you’re a terrible writer? (You ask yourself) You’ll look like a complete idiot. (You think) That familiar fear of failure kicks in. And so you put off asking for help, and you stay in your safe little bubble instead.
It took me 6 months to pluck up the courage to take my first screenwriting class.
And the first time I signed up to have a screenplay workshopped by a group of other writers, I left with a migraine and had to go home and lie down in a dark room afterwards to recover. But despite that, I haven’t looked back.
Getting feedback makes me a stronger writer.
So as this podcast reveals, if you ask for help and risk failure, what’s the worst that can happen? People say no. But so what? They might also say yes. And the more you risk failure, the easier it becomes.
I worked for a TV production company for over 10 years, while screenwriting on the side. But I waited until after I’d left to ask some of my colleagues for help. Why?! Because I was scared of looking stupid. What a waste! When I did finally pluck up the courage to ask for help it honestly changed my life. I sent an email to everyone I could think of to ask if they knew anyone who might be interested in reading a short film script I’d written.
Wow! I was overwhelmed by how many people came back to me with contacts and recommendations of people to reach out to. I bit the bullet and got in touch with all the names I was given. It turned out that many of them wanted to read my script. I couldn’t believe it. Some of them loved it. Some wanted to meet up, we talked about collaborating, about getting my short film made.
How Things Turned Out…
In the end, it didn’t get made, but it transformed my approach to networking. I suddenly realized that networking wasn’t as hard as I feared. If you ask nicely, people want to help.
One of the emails I sent led me to a producer, who loved my writing and thought it would suit animation. This was something I’d had at the back of my mind, but wasn’t sure where to start.
Ten years on that’s what I do for a living. I write children’s animation. Networking is now a regular part of my writing life; I shake off the rejections and remember: it’s a numbers game.
Many will say no, but some will say yes.
Quote from another writer
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.Barack Obama
A Useful Resource
Want to put yourself out there in 2024? Consider going to the London Book Fair. I’ve just noticed that they’re offering early bird ticket prices until the end of December 2023.
If you’re writing (or have written) a book, I highly recommend going. It’s a great place to go and meet other writers as well as do some networking. They always put on a brilliant programme of inspiring talks and seminars. (Want to know more? I’ve previously written about my experiences at the London Book Fair here.)
A Call to Action
Think of one thing you need help with. Perhaps there’s something you’re putting off through fear of failure? Make a decision now and commit to it. Go on. I’m rooting for you!
- Perhaps you’re struggling to get started on a piece of writing.
- Or you want to send a piece out, but you need advice as to where to start or what to do next.
- Maybe you need feedback on a piece of writing.
- Or perhaps you can’t stop procrastinating.
If you don’t know who to ask for help, consider getting some 1:1 coaching with me.
Because I struggled with asking for help, I now LOVE helping other writers. The focus of my coaching is helping ambitious writers who are struggling to sit down and write (or sit down and sell their writing) – maybe because of self-doubt, a block – or simply good old-fashioned procrastination.
You’ll come away from our coaching calls feeling excited to have a goal and a writing routine, enjoying the process, and empowered to try out lots of new marketing ideas. To find out more, check out my website. Or you can book a call and ask me anything.
Do let me know if you have any writing-related questions. I might be able to answer them in a future blog post.
My Newsletter! I send out an email every couple of weeks with tips on all aspects of writing, productivity, habits, blocks, and different ways of marketing yourself and your writing. Anyone who signs up gets a free 14-day writing course – perfect for kickstarting a writing routine. Thanks for your support!
My Facebook group! Get some weekly accountability on your writing goals!
My monthly London Writers’ Meetup!
It happens on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm UK time online. It’s a super friendly group and a great opportunity to ask questions and share your struggles, set a goal, and make some writer friends. I’d love to meet you there.