To be honest, there is only one thing holding an aspiring writer back from writing. Whatever the external excuse may be, the real internal reason keeping someone from writing is fear.
So for any aspiring writer out there, I have a couple of quick messages for you.
Don’t be afraid to write.
You may be paid a visit from the pesky inner-critic, but do whatever it takes to silence him. Don’t kill him though; you’ll need him as an ally when it comes time to edit. But for the meantime, don’t allow yourself to think you can’t write, or that you can’t write well. It just takes a little practice and a little discipline.
It won’t be perfect. It might even be terrible. But who cares? No one will see your first attempt. No one will see your first draft if you don’t want them to. Just sit down and do it.
Don’t be afraid of getting rejected.
I know that different people write for different reasons. For me, though, writing without the goal of publishing doesn’t make sense, so that’s the approach I’m taking here. (If you disagree, that’s fine. Leave a comment and tell me why I’m wrong.)
It goes without saying, but if you’re afraid of getting rejected at something then you’ll never be successful at it. That goes for most things in life, actually, but we’ll stick with writing for now. Most publishers accept less than ten percent of the unsolicited submissions they receive. Quite a few of the professional-paying publishers accept less than one percent.
Rejections Aren’t Personal.
And if you are ready to start submitting fiction to editors, remember this: While it may seem like the odds are stacked against you, it doesn’t mean they are. It only means you have to keep trying. One important note about rejection letters is that they are not personal. The editor doesn’t know you, doesn’t hate you, and doesn’t think your work sucks. They are only looking to accept work that fits in with the project they are working on at the moment. There are a dozen possible reasons your work might not fit in in a certain publication. Don’t dwell on it.
Instead, take what good you can from a rejection letter. If there’s feedback, rejoice. Your fiction touched enough nerve for a comment or two. If you were short-listed for an anthology, great. It means they liked it enough to wait and see how it fits in with the stories they do accept.
Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over a rejection letter. If you’re getting rejection letters, that means you’re submitting short stories, which means you’ve got at least one finished piece of fiction.
That alone sets you apart from the rest.