While everyone else at the office celebrates another successful commute home by popping the tab on a cold one and settling into the couch for a night in front of the TV, the rest of us brew a pot of coffee (or load the first of many K-Cups), reheat yesterday’s General Tso’s, open our computers, and prepare to camp out for the night.
We’re professional writers, but that might not be what it says on our business cards.
A lot of people who work eight hours a day also have some kind of side hustle, especially those in their 30s or younger, and these after-hours pursuits are not restricted to writing. Painters, composers, upcyclers, photographers, graffiti artists, filmmakers, microbrewers, web designers—they all create in the off-hours, the five-to-nine.
These endeavors are sometimes monetized hobbies, or they can even be secret second jobs in multistage schemes to escape the cubicle life forever.
Either way, at the end of a full workday, these creatives devote themselves to an ambitious pursuit without any guarantee of a payoff beyond the satisfaction of exploring their talents and passions.
Scroll through your favorite social media feed, and you may see a post or two telling you how you can “adult,” and while we wait for that unfortunate verb to go out of fashion, the concept behind those articles is useful for many of us. Because who doesn’t need a little help scrubbing those hard-to-reach places when it comes to personal development?
But what happens when it’s not just ourselves that we have to coax into our full potential, but a group of strangers?
When other people’s work is suddenly your responsibility—whether you’re the team lead on a collaborative project, or you’ve collected a federation of steady freelancers, or you’ve finally hired that help you’ve been wishing for since the day you started your business—congrats, you’ve been knighted into the managers’ club.
Raise your hand if you’re intimidated by public speaking. If you’re in public right now, maybe just agree discreetly to yourself so strangers at the next table won’t give you the side-eye.
What is it about talking to a large audience that gives so many of us pause? Is it the staring, potentially judgmental crowd? Is it the harsh lights and wailing microphone feedback? Is it the possibility that we’ll forget to wear pants?
For most people, it’s the pressure of being “on”—front and center, live, in the hot seat.
Unless the words of your speech are graven upon your soul, you’re prime for derailment at any moment.
But what if, while you were up on that stage, there was a way to freeze or rewind time, without anyone knowing but you? You could choose your words perfectly or even reverse and rescue yourself from a disastrous quagmire of word salad.
How many people would be afraid of public speaking then?
Writing for an audience is public speaking, and your backspace key is your DeLorean.
So many writers (and would-be writers) keep a “Big Idea” on their mental shelf indefinitely; often something they expect will be a challenge to write.
It could be a memoir, an e-book, an important piece for your niche blog, or maybe some kind of long-form story. You may develop a rough outline, make notes, plink out a few scattered paragraphs, do research, draw concept art, post about it on Facebook, and tell everyone you know—but never actually turn all of that into anything complete.
Here’s a spoiler before we get started: These roadblocks are secretly manifestations of excuses that we’ve told ourselves so many times that they’ve become ingrained as beliefs.
Below are some of the common roadblocks and ways to crush them, so you can finally reach that first great landmark on the way to publication—the first draft.