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Are You Too Scared to Write? Stop Thinking and Just Do It

Are You Too Scared to Write? Stop Thinking and Just Do It

    It has taken me over 15 years to get back to writing and start taking it seriously.

    I have been reading and writing since I was barely out of diapers. And yet I never dared to think of myself as a writer. “God, no I can’t be one of those,” I thought. I allowed my fears of writing to rule my life, to make me not even admit to myself that I was doing the same job that writers do.

    My fears took the form of excuses, but they still were fears in disguise. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being accused of
    impersonating someone I was not. Do you relate to any of these?

    Fear #1 – You are not good enough

    All of my life, I thought I was a mediocre writer – that my work was not worthy of being made public.

    For one, I wrote in a very ‘bloggish’ style. A conversational style that has been made popular by the likes of Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha , Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and David Nicholl’s One Day. Twenty years ago, I couldn’t find any books that would say to me “your style is valid too”; colloquial is good.

    Writing in a personal, conversational style where it feels like you are having an intimate conversation with your reader is not only perfectly valid but highly sought after. The stronger your voice is and the more opinionated you are, the more interesting writer you will become.

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    I wish somebody had told me 10 years ago. I wish somebody had told me to stop comparing my writing with others.

    What has been keeping you from calling yourself a writer?

    Is it a different sort of style, love of genre or form? Whatever it is, embrace it and work it.

    Writing is about voice, personality and delivery, not the placement of your em-dash. (Which I love to use by the way). People are looking for honesty, not perfect prose, which means you have all the creativity you need.

    Banish perfection and hone your craft. Remember imperfect is interesting. Doubt is good – it helps you steer in revision.

    Sit down, start writing and don’t think. That’s all you need to do to write. Don’t think – just write.

    Fear #2 – You have nothing to say

    Feed your brain. Read, observe, participate, live.

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    Record your ideas: a small writing pad and a small writing device are your best friend. You can lug them around and there is no excuse to be two feet away from one at any time. My best ideas come when I am doing the dishes or about to fall asleep. Both are not ideal. If I couldn’t touch some sort of notebook when I reached for it, I’d lose all sleep.

    Get rid of distraction: turn off the Internet, your phone, and TV. Disappear for a while in your writing. And you will amazed and how much work you can accomplish.

    You need what you need to know. You don’t need 50 personal and writing books to tell you that. They make you feel like you are not creative enough, organized enough, fit enough, clever enough. You are all those things. Have you lived a life? If so, that qualifies you to write.

    There is only one thing you need to write – you need to have a life. Write about what you have lived through – tell your own stories.

    Fear #3 – You don’t know where to begin

    It’s very simple. All you need are a few things:

    • A quiet place to sit.
    • A paper and pencil or computer.
    • Ability to be by yourself for a while.
    • Willingness to explore yourself.

    What you DON’T need:

    • An expensive education or writing degree.
    • Expensive stationary and office supplies etc.
    • Expensive computers and software.
    • Anything new.

    Fear #4 – You don’t have support

    Writing is a communal act – you don’t do it alone.

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    Don’t fret if your family gives you blank stares when you suddenly announce, “I want to write.” Don’t lose hope when your partner doesn’t break into a dance of joy upon hearing this good news.

    Don’t be offended if your friends nod their heads politely, while keeping an eye on their kids chasing each other at the park, or trying to kill someone. It’s very unlikely that you will find support among your family and friends – unless you are incredibly lucky. Give them time, let the news sink in, for both your sakes. Remember they are new at this too; they will eventually come around.

    Go on on an active hunt for like minded people.

    Have you been following any writers’ blogs? Read the ones that offer courage and inspiration to keep you going as you hone your craft. They will keep you motivated. Even better, start a blog of your own if you haven’t already.

    Go to the local library and find reading or writing groups. Join an online book group where all the “book obsessed” hang out. Attend live readings. If you are too shy to do these things, join anyway and lurk. Speak up when you have the courage. Don’t talk about your work for now – just listen.

    All in all, remember these 3 rules:

    1. Stop thinking.

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    2. Start writing.

    3. Don’t think about it.

    Be interesting and you will make your writing interesting. Write honestly and passionately and learn along the way. That’s how all the famous ones do it!

    Which fear of writing is stopping you from writing? Do share in the comments below.

    (Photo credit: An open old book by the candlelight via Shutterstock)

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    Marya Jan

    Marya is a business strategist. She shares tips about life and success on Lifehack.

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    Published on September 23, 2020

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

    I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

    If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    What is Negotiation?

    First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

    Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

    In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

    Places We Negotiate

    I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

    1. Work/Business

    This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

    When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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    In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

    Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

    2. Personal

    I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

    I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

    Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

    3. Ourselves

    You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

    I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

    Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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    Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

    Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

    We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

    My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

    If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

    As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

    6 Negotiation Skills to Master

    Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

    Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

    1. Preparation

    Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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    It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

    For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

    After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

    2. Clear Communication

    The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

    If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

    3. Active Listening

    Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

    If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

    4. Teamwork and Collaboration

    To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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    If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

    When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

    5. Problem Solving

    Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

    Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

    From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

    There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

    6. Decision-Making Ability

    Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

    Conclusion

    There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

    Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

    More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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