9 Negative Beliefs That Are Sabotaging Your Writing Career

This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {one of those aspects was my writing career}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one we inevitably have to improve the other.

Recently, I’ve started to ghostwrite and freelance, which means I’m actually being paid to write for the first time in my life!

I’ve also been featured in widely popular blogs like WriteToDone, GoodLife Zen, and Problogger. (Not to mention I’m still keeping up a successful blog and working on the second draft of my novel.)

So it seems like my writing career has just started to get cooking. And, as always, I wanted to take the time to share with you what I’ve done in order to get myself this far.

9 Negative Beliefs That Are Sabotaging Your Career

What I’ve done is I’ve basically toppled some negative beliefs about my writing career that had, until recently, been stunting my growth.

Below I have listed those negative beliefs and I’ve paired these negative beliefs with the positive, true facts that I used to combat them:

Negative Belief: You can’t make money writing

Positive FACT: You CAN make money writing and in fact you can make a living writing

Writers like Carol Tice, Linda Formichelli, and Sean Platt make a living writing.

No, most of them are not fiction writers on the side like you are, but still. They make money writing–in fact they make a living writing.

So who says you can’t, too?

Negative Belief: Freelancing writing and any other kind of writing that isn’t fiction is going to drain your energy and keep you away from your novel

Positive FACT: Freelancing and ghostwriting may be the best thing that can happen to your novel

I have found that my work on ghostwriting and freelancing has vastly improved my novel writing.

How so, you ask?

You see, since I dedicate less time to my novel nowadays, I actually look forward to my novel more often than not. Writing my novel becomes my REWARD for all the freelancing and ghostwriting work I’ve done.

And, really, the truth is that fiction writing is very different from ghostwriting or freelancing.

So, I really can’t say that one form of writing “drains” my energy for another. Freelancing and ghostwriting are so different from each other that each one feels like a breath of fresh air whenever I engage with it.

True, I’m only working on my novel for 5 hours a week at the moment, {unlike the 20 hours a week I used to clock in before}, but the difference is that this time I have a stream of money coming in, and, hey, what’s wrong with that?

Negative Belief: You’re a victim

Positive Fact: You have the power to change your fate every second of every day

Sure, blame the fact that you can’t make a living writing your fiction novel on the government, on society, on history, on people who don’t appreciate art.

But, really, who cares if society doesn’t get you, or doesn’t think your work is valid?

Please. I got better things to do with my energy than complain about my victimhood–like actually start to prove people wrong about writing and art.

Stop blaming everyone else from stopping you from becoming the fabulous artist or writer you always wanted to be.

Stop whining and start doing.

Negative Belief: It’s too hard

Positive FACT: It’s a lot easier than you think

Especially now that there is this thing called “blogs” where, if you wanted to, you can create an online platform that showcases your work.

And if you can also show that you can get a lot of people to read your content, then that’s even more proof to potential clients or big name bloggers that you know what you’re doing.  Showcasing your great work on your blog will give those clients or big name bloggers more reason to want to hire you or drive a huge amount of traffic to your site.

Oh, and guess what? These “blogs” I’m talking about? They don’t cost you a penny, but they get your work out to potentially millions of people all over the world.

I’m sorry, whatchusay? You don’t know how to make your blog popular? Have you really not heard of sites like Problogger or WriteToDone—sites that consistently give tons of useful advice for you to improve your blog performance?

Are you sure you think it’s hard, or do you just not want to dedicate the time and energy to read all the great advice that’s out there, and then implement that advice on your own blog?

Negative Belief: The market is bad for writers

Positive FACT: The market couldn’t be better for writers who want to earn money writing–and it’s only going to get better

Negative Belief: I have to work at doing something that my friends and/or family understand and respect

Positive FACT: Others don’t have to understand or respect you for you to progress in your career.

I bet you have a friend who doesn’t understand Shakespeare, or a family member who really doesn’t care for Harry Potter and thinks its stupid. Does that mean we should all stop reading Shakespeare or loving Harry Potter?

Look, tons of people will never understand or respect what you do.

In fact, the ONLY people who are ever understood and respected on a consistent basis are dictators—and I’m sure that’s only because they put guns to people’s heads.

Negative Belief: I’m just so resistant to moving forward with my writing career, and as much as I try, I can’t do anything about it.

Positive FACT: You are the one who is resisting. That means you are the one who can relax and open up.

At one point, I encountered an intense resistance to progressing my writing career.

It was very strange. It was like finding an old rusty lever in the middle of my gut that hadn’t been pulled in hundreds of years.

After a while of trying to pull that lever with no success, I suddenly realized that it was just never going to work. It’s not that I wasn’t strong enough to pull that rusty lever; it’s just that I was approaching the problem all wrong:

The truth was, it was I who was that rusty lever. I was the one who didn’t want to be budged.

So, as the lever, all I had to do to let go of my resistance was simply to relax and open up. Once I did that, the rusty lever gave way easily and I was able to move forward with my career.

Negative Belief: I’m a terrible, no-good writer, and I’ll never get better.

Positive Belief: You’re a great writer. And even if you’re not the best, you can always improve.

Okay. Confession: this isn’t my negative belief.

But I know that it’s many of yours and that’s why I offer a writing consultation service through this blog. (UPDATE: I am no longer offering this service.) I’ve already managed to help many writers drastically improve their writing, and if you struggle with your writing, know that I can help.

I really want you to be the absolute best writer you can be.

As I progress in my writing career, I will continue to slash away all the negative beliefs that seek to sabotage my career, and I will continue to focus on the positive FACTS that are always available to me, as long as I’m willing to acknowledge them.

much love,


What negative beliefs do you think are holding you back or sabotaging your writing career? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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24 comments on “9 Negative Beliefs That Are Sabotaging Your Writing Career

  1. karenselliott says:

    I adore the part about Shakespeare and Harry Potter. I’m going to let go of my annoyance with family and friends who just don’t get me. And move on! Thanks, Ollin!

  2. kaleba says:

    I know I have a lot of issues to deal with.

    The first one I tackled was fear. I’ve learned that fear is a lot easier to overcome when you’re highly motivated. As in, at some point you just have to say “f” it, and jump in even though you’re afraid.

    Now I’m dealing with rejection and failure. I’m not breaking into the freelance biz like I thought I would. I think I can write, but apparently no one else does. I know Carol says that content mills are bad, but if it weren’t for Associated Content I wouldn’t be publishing anything at all.

    I think it’s great that you and others are making a living writing, but I don’t see that as a possibility for me, or for absolutely everyone who writes. As for your question of, “Who says you can’t too?”, the answer is… the people doing the hiring. I’m going to keep trying. I’ll get up every day and search for jobs and send out emails, but then I’m going to do what I do everyday, write for Associated Content. And no, I’m not making any money there.

    Your posts are always encouraging, always positive, but this one, well, like I said, I think it’s great you and others are making money writing, but I think you have to be careful about generalizing it for absolutely everyone out there. It isn’t true that everyone can make a living writing, companies do not pay well, and jobs are hard to come by.

    • Ollin says:

      Hey Kaleb,

      Let me clarify: what I mean to say is that making a living writing, or making money writing is a possibility. It is not an impossibility.

      I DID NOT say that it is guaranteed. The belief is not “I will make a living writing for sure” the belief is “I can make a living” it’s possible.

      I don’t think it’s impossible for you. Is it guaranteed? Of course not. Nothing is. Never will be. But I would be lying to people if I told them it was impossible.

      Because the fact is it is possible. And that’s what I meant.

      If you’re struggling with this, I recommend that you bump up your blogging platform. Do guests posts, read copyblogger and problogger and read from the experts how to bump up your blog’s performance.

      Put yourself out there. Increase your reader base. This is something you can do and you don’t have to wait for someone to accept you, you’re basically giving yourself the chance no one was giving you. If you can prove that your writing gathers a solid fanbase–people will WANT you on their blogs, they will WANT to hire you.

      Because you can drive a lot of traffic to their site. You following me there, Kaleb? I hope so, because I just gave you gold. Good luck to you!

  3. inkspeare says:

    This great advice applies to writers, but also to all facets of life. Excellent post.

  4. Oh, Ollin, this is a fantastic post! First of all, let me congratulate you on taking a step to having a career as a writer! I definitely think that writing for your job, whatever that job may be, can only improve your writing and turn it more into an everyday habit, so that when you work on your novel, you’re not struggling with the “sitting-on-your-bum-and-writing-for-a-while” aspect of things, but you’re free to just focus on the story you’re trying to tell or the characters you’re trying to express.

    I also agree that positive thinking is necessary for a writer. We all know that we have a lot of things standing in our way, but we need to remember that we can surmount them, get past them, and feel all the more satisfied for having done so. Nobody ever said that achieving our dreams was supposed to be easy.

    • Ollin says:

      Great point! It isn’t easy, and for people like you who have been with me for a long time, you know it was not even close to easy. And yes, I used to hear a lot of times from blogs that doing freelancing or some other kind of writing for work would drain your energy for you novel, and that just isn’t true.

      I think that belief kept me stuck in old habits for quite a while. I’m glad I just tried it instead of just taking that belief as a given fact.

  5. How about this old standby–I just don’t have time! Develop a bias for action and never worry about time crunches any more.

    But then, with you, I’m preaching to the choir.

    • Ollin says:

      Haha, true.

      We are the one’s who control our time, and we decided what we dedicate our time to. I learned that lesson quite a while back. It’s true.

  6. […] 9 Negative Beliefs that are Sabotaging your Writing – This is a good one. We all need this some times. […]

  7. Christina says:

    Thanks Ollin:))

    You’re such an inspiration to us all!

  8. timkeen40 says:

    Great post and great advice. I find the biggest thing that I get hung up on is my age. I am forty-fve and, while I have spent a lifetime writing, I am just now starting out to make a name for myself. Forty-five is a little late to start a career.
    What is the positive belief?
    This guy named Louis L’Amour ddn’t start until he was fifty. Some of you may have heard of him.

    • Ollin says:

      Atta boy Tim, it’s funny. I had the “i’m too young” to start in this belief. Age seems to be the thing that’s always a negative right? Either we’re too old, or we’re too young. We’re never the right age. Good luck to you!

      • I just had to respond to this!
        Imagine being 40 and just discovering that you could write!
        The truth is, (I suspect) that we have been programed to think this way, although no-one who limits themselves ever accomplishes much.
        I think we should all just give that up. :0

  9. I love what you are doing here Ollin!
    This is a fabulous list. One that I think could apply to many dreams. Our beliefs play such a roll in how we manifest our lives. I feel reading this that you make it so clear that your readers couldn’t possibly not understand.
    You are a gift, and also an inspiration!

  10. This is fascinating reading, especially since I’ve just finished writing a post about how our beliefs can sabotage our work ( I’ll probably post it on Monday). The only one that I have out of that lot is the last one, though not quite so negatively as the way you’re put it, and I have to constantly remind myself that first, even if I’m not such a great writer now, I will be if I stick at it.

    • Ollin says:

      Of course you will. But I’d say you’re already a great writer now. But I know that sometimes what others say doesn’t mean much. So, I hope your beliefs change!

  11. It’s so important to face our negative beliefs head-on. This posts really helps us to dig in and explore what might be holding us back. I’ve made money as a freelance writer so that’s not a negative belief I hold. But with the advent of the internet, I could see why this might boil up in some people’s minds. Thanks for helping us identify our obstacles and shift our perspective.

  12. e6n1 says:

    Great post!

    I really don’t know why ‘You can’t make money at writing’ is usually the first response when someone announces that they want to be a writer. It’s such an ingrained reaction and some writers don’t write for the money.

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