Last week a group of professional freelance writers gathered on twitter and had a refreshingly vulnerable discussion about fear. Who’s experienced it at any point during their freelance writing careers? How has it impacted their freelancing careers? Has it ever stopped them? Has it ever helped them? Oh, and there was even a little talk of the zombie apocalypse thrown in. (Hey, we’re writers. You can’t expect us not to get a little dramatic.)

The questions were heavy-hitting, but the writers participating in the chat stepped up to meet every single one. Even more amazing? There was no shaming. Only validation and support; commiseration and respect.

The twitter chat was lead by Lori Widmer and Paula Hendrickson as a part of Writers Worth Month, which takes place every May.

A Twitter Chat on Writing Fears

To introduce the Writers Worth Month twitter chat, Lori told participants that we would be examining our fears and how they impact our freelance writing careers.

Lori Widmer tells WWMchat participants we'll be examining our fears

Question #1: Who Has Experienced Fear?

Lori and Paula didn’t tip-toe around the hard questions. They dove right in with the very first question, which was asking for a show of hands of who has experienced fear in their freelancing careers.

Lori asked who has experienced fear in freelance writing

“Hands” began flying up through likes, retweets and responses, including my own.

All Freelance Writing raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Life with Teens raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Sharon Hurley Hall raises her hand during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

YP Finance Writer raises her hand during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Mika Doyle raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Question #2: What’s the Biggest Fear You’ve Faced?

Lori quickly thew up the next question, asking participants what was the biggest fear they’ve faced during their careers so far?

Lori asks what is the biggest fear writers have faced during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Responses were wide-ranging. Some writers feared leaving the stability of a salaried income and facing the feeling of loss by leaving what they’ve built in the corporate world. Some feared they wouldn’t be able to make enough money freelancing and were overwhelmed by the costs of health care in the U.S. Others were afraid people wouldn’t pay them to write and wondered if they were running their business “right.” And then there’s the age-old fear of putting their writing out there in the first place.

Mary Diamond discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Mika Doyle discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Sharon Hurley Hall discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Each of these responses led to really great side discussions, but Sharon Hurley Hall’s response in particular generated great perspectives on what it means to run a freelancing business “correctly.” The writers asked each other if there really are right and wrong ways to run a freelancing business, so I’d highly recommend checking out that part of the chat.

Question #3: Has Your Fear Ever Stopped You?

Paula jumped in at this point and asked participants if anyone had ever let their fear stop them from pursuing a writing opportunity.

Paula Hendrickson asks if anyone has let fear stop them from taking a writing opportunity during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Jenn Mattern of All Freelance Writing says early on in her writing career she passed up on an opportunity to work with a member of a major band who was launching a solo project, which she said seemed “stupid then” and even “more so now” since she had been writing for years at that point and had a music PR background.

Mary Henning (Life With Teens) and Lori Widmer both had some near misses. Mary almost didn’t revise an article for “Cricket” magazine that was originally intended for “Highlights” but was glad she did because it was her first sale as a professional writer. And Lori almost didn’t apply for a senior editor job, which she ended up getting, by the way.

All Freelance Writing discussed a job she passed up during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Life with Teens discusses a near missed job during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Lori mentions a job she almost didn't take during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Question #4: How Has Fear Helped You?

Now this is a powerful question. Lori asked writers if fear hasn’t stopped them, how has it helped them? That’s such a great question for pretty much any aspect of life.

Lori asks how fear has helped writers during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Most writers said they found fear motivational; it gave them the strength to push themselves just a little bit harder. Fear is like fuel for most of these writers. Rather than wallow in it, they drink it in and power themselves up on it.

Writers Worth Month twitter chat how fears have stopped writers

Writers Worth Month twitter chat writers fears

Mika Doyle explains how fear motivates her during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Lori Widmer responds to Mika Doyle during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Question #5: What Value Does Fear Bring to Your Writing Career?

Paula then expounded on that question and asked writers specifically what value fear brings to their writing careers.

Paula Hendrickson asks freelance writers the value of fear

The message I heard from most of these writers is much of what we heard earlier: fear keeps freelance writers driven. But it also helps writers maintain a fine balance between humility and confidence, something that ultimately helps them charge appropriate rates for the services they provide. In other words: it helps them know their worth. For me, that was an unexpected outcome.

Freelance writers offer the value fear brings to their careers

Freelance writer Lori Widmer offers her take on the value of fear

Freelance writer Mika Doyle offers her response to the value of fear on her career

Freelance writer Sharon Hurley Hall offers the value of fear to her writing career

Question #6: What Types of Fears Do You Face in Your Writing Career?

At this point, Paula took us from the macro right down to the gritty specifics we each face every single day by asking us exactly what types of fears we face in our writing careers and if some are harder to handle than others.

Freelance writer Paula Hendrickson asks what types of fears writers face

Yolander Prinzel is the only writer who answered this question because her response led to a fantastic discussion about how writers deal with feelings of inadequacy or impostor syndrome. She says, “This is a hard one. I think inadequacy is my biggest. Is my style good enough. Is my knowledge deep enough? Is my ability to communicate sophisticated enough? etc etc.” The writers in the twitter chat rallied around her, validating her experience and discussing the line between insecurity and truly being unqualified for a project.

Freelance writer Yolander Prinzel discusses the types of fears she faces

The discussion resulted in my absolute favorite quote of the chat: “Writers are the oddest combination of ego, self-loathing, confidence, insecurity, fear and anger.” Well spoken, Yolander.

Freelance writer Yolander Prinzel delivers Mika's favorite quote of the Twitter chat

Question #7: How Would You Define a Fearless Writer?

Lori wrapped up the twitter chat with what felt like a really hopeful and inspiring question: How would you define a fearless writer?

Freelance writer Lori Widmer asks how to define a fearless writer

These writers did not disappoint. Not a single one attempted to say, “here’s the key to fearlessness.” No, these writers dropped their truth bombs and all essentially said you’re going to feel fear as a writer. What matters is what you do with that fear.

My favorite response to Lori’s question on how to define a fearless writer? Yolander’s concise but brutally honest “fictional.” Mic drop.

Freelance writer Paula Hendrickson defines a fearless writer

Freelance writer Mary Henning defines a fearless writer

Freelance writer Lori Widmer defines a fearless writer

Yolander Prinzel defines a fearless writer

There was so much more to this twitter chat than what I was able to capture here, so I encourage you to search hashtag #WWMchat to check out all of the wonderful side conversations that organically flowed throughout the hour-long chat.

Join the Next Chat May 22

Did you miss the first Writers Worth Month twitter chat? Not to worry! Lori and Paula are hosting a second chat at noon ET Tuesday, May 22. Join the conversation using hashtag #WWMchat!

What’s Writers Worth Month?

Writers Worth Month is an awareness event aimed at educating freelance writers on how to stop accepting low-paying work and to keep them from letting clients take advantage of them. It features blog posts penned by Lori and a variety of talented guest freelancers from a variety of backgrounds on Lori’s Words on the Page site, which offers resources to freelance writers.

Lori started Writers Worth as a single day on May 16, 2008, out of frustration for all of the writers’ posts she kept seeing defending low-paying, content-mill style jobs.

“I was angry because it was the prevailing message on the internet,” says Lori. “If you want to write, they were saying, you have to accept the garbage payments and the awful clients who don’t value what we do. I knew that it was a waste of time to try to educate the job posters; they didn’t care because some writer somewhere would be foolish enough to work for less than minimum wage. So if you can’t change the minds of those posting the jobs, why not try to empower the ones who felt like they needed to take those jobs? That’s how Writers Worth came to be.”

It was Paula who suggested Lori extend Writers Worth from a single day into a week, and then a week became a month, and Writers Worth Month was born.  This is the first year Lori has given the annual event a theme: fear.

“Everyone who agreed to guest post [for Writers Worth Month] got the same assignment, only … no one knew it but me,” says Lori. “And that was on purpose — I wanted to prove a point, actually. Too often, writers or wannabe writers will stop short of writing what they want because it’s already been done, and they don’t think they have anything to add. We all have a unique perspective, and that’s what I wanted timid writers to see.

“Another reason I did that was I wanted us to bond over the same thing. How could you not be more relaxed about starting a writing career if a successful writer is telling you about his or her fears? It’s empowering for us all to share our experiences, and a common experience we all have is fear.”

To make this year’s conversation about fear more interactive, Lori and Paula decided to host the first ever Writers Worth Twitter chat on May 8 using the hashtag #WWMchat.

To read all of the great content Lori and all of the other talented writers have put together for this year’s Writers Worth Month, make sure you head on over to Words on the Page and subscribe to get new posts in your inbox.


6 thoughts on “Professional Freelance Writers Get Vulnerable During First Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

  1. Thank you, Mika! It was a great discussion, and we’re going to do it again on the 22nd! And thanks for promoting Writers Worth AND participating both in the chat and with a guest post!

    1. Thank you to you and Paula for putting all the work in to garner such great discussion! Personally, this has been the perfect theme since it’s my first year going fully freelance, so the conversation has been so reassuring. I’m really looking forward to next week’s chat.

      1. The funniest thing was that, independently, Lori and I came up with nearly identical questions!

  2. Thanks for the Twitter Chat highlights, Mika! It flew by so fast it was hard to keep pace with all of the comments and side chats.

    I wish there were a way to thank Lori for coming up with the Writers Worth celebration. But spreading the word may be the best way to do that.

    1. You and Lori have taught me so much about how to succeed in the freelancing world, so spreading the word about Writers Worth Month is just one small way I can give back 🙂 .

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.