As creators, we’ve all been there – the flash of inspiration that sets our hearts racing.
For a moment, we can see everything that might happen if we follow through with this idea. The book, the articles, the new course we might create.
Then the nagging voice whispers in our ear.
Who are you to do this?
Or we outline our article and then do a quick Google search to see what else has been written about this.
Only to find someone much more intelligent/ experienced/ successful/ acclaimed than we could ever hope to be already has a Wall Street Journal bestseller on that very topic.
And we shrink back to being the small, safe version of ourselves.
Consuming what others write when we really want to be the ones writing.
I was recently invited to give an employability talk to my old department at Swansea University.
I spoke about ‘my adventures as an applied linguist in the online business space’.
About how valuable that applied linguistics training has been to me in my business.
How tasks I see other business owners struggling with come relatively easily to someone with my background.
Stuff like creating written content – emails, blog posts or sales pages.
To me, it’s just a matter of learning to write in another genre. Just another form of communication.
Grappling with SEO and crafting engaging headlines.
All things that won’t faze an applied linguist.
Different services I’ve sold – writing workshops and coaching packages as well as my writing and editing services.
All skills learned through my training as an applied linguist and from teaching for the past two decades.
I assure the applied linguistics students that they have transferable skills that people will pay them for.
But I also share that for me, the hardest part of being a business owner is putting myself out there.
Holding my hand up to say ‘I think I’ve got something that could help you. Do you want it?’
Because I don’t want to sell these students a lie that it’s all plain sailing.
When I posted my first post on Instagram a year and a half ago, my palms were so sweaty I could barely operate my phone. By the time I had the first like, I didn’t have a single finger nail left.
Have you ever felt like this when you’ve offered a piece of your creative work to the world?
But while my writing is never perfect (newsflash – nobody’s is), just imagine I had never posted that first IG post and hadn’t been able to help my very first clients reach more of their clients.
I don’t get sweaty palms anymore or reach for the bucket when I post to social media. I do sometimes struggle to put my writing out in the world, send a pitch for a piece of writing, or even an email to my list.
But as an educator, I know that holding onto my ideas will never help anyone.
I don’t think the doubts will ever entirely go away. For now, here are a few truths I’ll be reminding myself of as I continue to step out as a business owner and writer:
1. In order to get our best work out there, we have to keep creating and keep sharing.
Seth Godin, in The Practice, writes about how half of the work we ship will be below average, but if we don’t ship that work too, then we’ll never ship the brilliant work.
2. It’s ok to be a contributor, not a guru.
As writers, business owners and educators, we could all do with taping this mantra by Denise-Duffield Thomas to our mirrors. In fact, if you’re like most of my clients, then you are probably way more of an ‘expert’ than you think you are anyway!
3. Building a support network is essential – not just a nice to have.
This is about surrounding yourself with the people who will cheer you on in your creative endeavors. Whether it’s a coach, a business mastermind or a writing accountability buddy (I have all three), make sure you have those people to share your ideas and wins with. People who will be there to pull you up when things don’t go so well.
4. It’s not about the critics.
Have you ever noticed that the people who are most critical aren’t the ones out there doing their thing? They’re probably the ones sitting at home scrolling social. I recently rewatched a talk by Brené Brown where she cites a comment Roosevelt made about stepping into the arena. It’s a great reminder that the critics (including the critic on our shoulder) aren’t the ones who count.
I invite you to join me in the arena. If you have any other recommendations on the topic of stepping out or sharing creative work then I’d love to hear.
Just comment below or drop me an email.