My Writing Journey

Being Brave


Comparison-itis is a dangerous disease to develop. Whether it is the keeping up with the Joneses type or the online, she’s got more followers than me type, it can squash you. Stifle. Mess with your mind.

But there is another, more positive, side. It can also inspire you.

You have a choice. Let it bring you down. Or let it make you up your game. I’m choosing the latter.

I see wonderful writers, bloggers, photographers. Making the most of all the opportunities afforded them in this new, online, world. I see them celebrate traditional book deals (some with similar ideas to mine – gah!) or write articles for magazines. To successfully generate a revenue stream from their writing and photography. From something they love doing.

So. I’m not going to weep in a corner wailing that someone has stolen* my book idea.

I’m upping my game.

Do you know how long I’ve wanted to get to this point in my writing career? To be writing a novel. To have a literary agent. (I still pinch myself about that a few years later). To have a blog where I can write about the things I love and have people other than my mum and mother-in-law read it.

Well, let me see. *counts on fingers*. I first started blogging in 2006. So that’s ten years. TEN. And ok, yes, the blogging landscape was slightly different back then. And I have, in the meantime, written a proposal for a recipe book. And nearly finished my novel. And written for other websites. Oh, and had a second child. And moved to the countryside. And changed our lifestyle. And became a keeper of chickens.

But I never really went for it. Particularly with my blog. I wouldn’t put myself out there. I wouldn’t comment on other people’s blogs or join in twitter chats and facebook groups, allowing that trail of breadcrumbs to lead back to my blog. But then I changed my blog name. And something changed in me.

I’m not beating myself up. Sometimes these things happen when you’re ready. And I haven’t been ready. Yes, there is a massive worry that I’ll fall flat on my face with both my novel and this blog. But I also have a major fear of success. This fear allows me to procrastinate. It allows me to get bogged down with other projects (hello Annie Sloan furniture painting and chicken-keeping courses). And it makes me avoid sitting at my desk and avoiding that blank page.

After all, who would want to listen to my voice? Who else would be interested in the content I create? Who says I can write, anyway?

In the last few months I’ve read lots of blogs, seen lots of tweets and listened to podcasts. Many of which touch on the topic of The Fear and facing that fear. Inspiration is all around us.

Just yesterday I listened to author Miranda Dickinson’s vlog where she says this year she wants to ‘try stuff [with her writing]. Just have a go.” And, as her music announced the end of the vlog I was already making notes for this blog post. I, too, want to try stuff. Why not? I’ve nothing to lose.

Yesterday, I also listened to a podcast by Jen Carrington. (Podcasts are great for when you’re washing up.) I’ve just discovered Jen so have a lot of catching up to do. Again, she gave me food for thought. About not just being an echo of other people but being a voice.

Jen also said if she read a blog she wanted to see a picture of who was writing it. To get that connection. I’ve never put my picture on my blog. But, as soon as I heard that, I opened my laptop and immediately found a semi-decent photograph (I don’t have many) that I could use. It is now on my About page. Now that is me being very brave.

Sarah Painter’s The Worried Writer podcast is brilliant. This month Sarah talks to Mel Sherratt who mentions that fear.

Lizzy Kremer, a literary agent, also writes this week that Anything is Possible: Writing Without Fear.

Do you feel the fear when it comes to writing or in your creative career? Have you managed to push through? Any links you recommend? I’d love to hear.

*They haven’t really stolen it. It just feels like it.

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  • Reply sustainablemum

    I am not forging the same path as you so I don’t have these specific fears. But I am sure that whatever route we are following we all think the same of ourselves and beat ourselves up with whether we can achieve what we want to or not. We are all different yet we find ourselves comparing, an activity that is neither helpful or healthy.

    3rd March 2016 at 9:07 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Exactly, sustainablemum. I cannot help comparing which is why I’ve decided to use it as something positive.

      3rd March 2016 at 9:17 am
  • Reply Sarah Painter

    Great article, Helen! And well done for putting your (lovely) picture on your site. Thanks so much for the shout-out for the podcast, too. x

    3rd March 2016 at 9:10 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thank you, Sarah. I love your podcast. Look forward to it every month.x

      3rd March 2016 at 9:15 am
  • Reply Rachel (rachel_fusion)

    Miranda’s vlog has totally given me a kick up the but too. To do something about the two novels on my laptop that no one but me has read. To start a new blog. To up my instagram game. Good old Miranda x

    3rd March 2016 at 9:48 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Oh that is excellent news, Rachel. Good luck! x

      3rd March 2016 at 9:53 am
  • Reply Emma

    I’m new to blogging and new to your blog. I’ve had a lot of trouble finding blogs like yours that sort of mix in elements of their personal life with whatever they like to blog about. I find it really interesting to read about (and look at photos of) other people’s lives. That being said I do “feel the fear” about putting myself out there; I don’t have any particular coping strategies I think it’s just a slow process of building up your confidence and not letting yourself worry about what other people might think. And like you said, being brave! :)

    4th March 2016 at 4:45 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Hi Emma. Thank you so much for popping by and commenting. I’m the same as you. I like to read about other people’s lives as well as read more practical posts. Variety. As for feeling the fear it is a slow process. I’m still trying to push through and some days are better than others. And I can be knocked back by seemingly trivial things. But I want to take myself out my comfort zone. Which is where, I think Elizabeth Gilbert says, the magic happens.

      4th March 2016 at 8:19 am
  • Reply Becca

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love your writing style. I fully understand where you’re coming from, I’ve recently changed my blog name and direction and after about 5 years of blogging I think I’ve found my voice (I can’t say permanently because you never know!). I hope that this year you’re inspired and generate all the success you deserve from your hard work. Good luck x

    17th March 2016 at 11:45 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Oh thank you so much, Becca. Yes, I’m beginning to feel I’m getting there. I’ll be popping over to your blog very soon. x

      17th March 2016 at 1:05 pm
  • Reply laura

    Hi Helen,
    I’m visiting your blog for the first time today and have happened upon this post. I’m new to blogging and would like to echo what other people have said. I think we all lose our confidence sometimes because of the silliest of reasons and yet another day we feel inspired and able to tackle anything. I really enjoyed reading your views and for me it’s nice to know that someone who has been blogging a lot longer than me has the same worries.

    4th April 2016 at 8:54 pm
  • Reply Yasmin

    Great post. I think fear can hold back so many people. I’ve had a fear with my work for so long, but the thing that I fear the most is putting so much effort into my blog, or a project that I still fail. I feel like there’s always something holding me back from doing more. This year my work as a photographer has taken a completely new direction and I really do love that, but at the same time writing is something I’ve become so passionate about since I started reading again this summer. I just want to write all the time but because I’m at university it’s holding me back. Thankfully though, I’m in my final year, so once I’ve finished uni I can write and read all I want. My aim this year is to start earning an income from my writing and photography, one way or another. But I want them both to go hand in hand.

    I’m so glad to hear you’re working on your blog a lot more, I know I’m going to enjoy reading all about your writing journey :)

    31st December 2016 at 5:50 pm
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Thanks so much, Yasmin. Oh how I can relate. Good luck this year. Looking forward to hearing how you get on!

      4th January 2017 at 11:15 am

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