The publishing industry is in the middle of a great transformation, a great change. And change, good or bad, is difficult. There are slews of stories right now on how hard it is to make a living as a writer.

I have been getting emails from my students, friends in the industry, and many readers, all with the same theme: is the dream over? Will being a writer ever be a viable way to make a living?

I wish I had the answer. I have been on both sides with my new writing career: I have had years where the money has rocked and years that the money has kept me under the poverty line.

I will come clean and let you all know that a year or so ago, this downturn hit me hard. I was so scared and could not move forward. It is then that I decided to interview women who were succeeding and see how they were doing it. The interviews morphed into an e-book and I learned so much from all of the women who spoke to me. (If you read this whole post and leave a comment here with your insights and experience, I will send you the ebook for free. It is truly motivating.)

What I learned is this: what paralyzed me was fear. I was (and sometimes still am) so afraid that this industry will fail and that I will fail that it has stopped me cold in my tracks. I stopped writing. I stopped pitching and shamefully, began to whine to anyone who would listen.

It is hard to have faith sometimes that it will all be okay. Magazines I wrote for are gone, rates are dropping, chasing invoices has become the new norm.

But I learned that if I was going to succeed and make my writing dream come true I had to do this: Write because I love it. Write consistently. Write persistently and never, ever, ever give up.

Recently I came across a book, Be Fearless, that I fell in love with because it addressed the issue of fear head-on. It talks about how fear can be paralyzing but it does not stop there. In simple, easy to understand language, the author guides the reader into creating our new reality: a reality that is happy and not depressing.  I had the chance to ask author, Jonathan Alpert, some questions and you can read his insightful interview below.

And while the reality is that publishing is hard, here is another side: in the last six months: a new food writer has signed a six-figure deal for an innovative cookbook, a aspiring blogger gets high six-figures to sponsor a product she loves, a food writer has signed a deal to write three novels. So, yes, people are still doing it and still succeeding.  So the question is what are you going to do?

There are many knocking at our door, and what we chose to do will create our reality.

Here is my interview with Jonathan Alpert, author of BE FEARLESS

1. I am really loving your book. I think it came along at just the right time for me! I specially love your concept of – Five Steps to the rest of your life. Can you tell my readers a little bit about that?

The five steps are the heart of BE FEARLESS and come from my practice.  It represents what has made countless clients hugely successful.

Briefly, these are the steps:

Define your Dream Life: here you define what you truly want.  You define what your goals and dreams are.  There are several exercises that help to bring clarity to these goals and that will help to motivate you to pursue them.

Break your Fear Pattern: here you identify the things that have been holding you back.  A series of exercises, some of which seem counterintuitve, will help you to understand and get past what has been holding you back.

Rewrite your Inner Narrative: in this step readers become aware of the thoughts that have held them back and caused them to doubt their abilities.

Eliminate your Fear Response: in this step you’ll overcome the physiological response to fear and turn it into a strength.  You’ll gain control over the things you once thought were beyond your control.

Live your Dream: in this final step you’ll craft your Fearless Action Plan and embark on your plan.

2. We all tell ourselves our little stories on why we cannot accomplish something.. and we do it so well! Can you give us some advice on how to stop doing that and basically change what we are saying to ourselves? And once we tell ourselves a different story… what really happens? Will things start to get better? Why?

We are programmed and primed to think worst case scenario.  It goes back 1000s of years ago when thinking negatively or being hyper-vigilant served us well.  Matter of fact, it often led to survival.  We anticipated danger and were able to then handle it if it occurred.  So, to stop that thinking people can think of alternative explanations to a situation – create a new ending.  Re-frame information.  On a piece of paper draw a line down the middle.  On the left write the negative self-defeating statement / language – and on the right side write down a re-frame.  For example, let’s say a guy who is afraid to approach a woman thinks, “She’ll never go for a guy like me”  “She’ll think I am dumb and unattractive.”  This might be re-framed by thinking, “Sure, it’s an anxiety provoking situation because I don’t know the outcome – and I certainly don’t know if I will be rejected or not.  This is a great opportunity to try and get to know the woman”.

3. In the publishing industry, where many of my readers reside, things are very difficult right now. I know a lot of writers are paralyzed by the fear that the industry is failing. Money is tight, work is hard to find. This is the reality. How does one deal effectively with this reality without letting it take over?

Sure, the publishing industry is tight right now, but there are still articles being published, books coming out, and people surviving – focus on these things rather than the negative.  Adjust expectations to fit the times.  If you expect to get rich off being a magazine writer, then you need to reevaluate your thinking.  Do know that not trying to even land something will ensure that you don’t land any gigs – but trying could potentially lead to something.  Pitch many, land one!  One of my favorite quotes is by baseball legend Babe Ruth. He said, “Every strikeout brings me one swing closer to a home run.” – Remember this – it’s powerful.

4. I love that you say ” You are capable of doing more than you ever dreamed” and I would love for you to elaborate a little on that.

You are capable of doing more than you ever dreamed – for most people, they don’t even begin to embark on their dreams because of fear.  They think of all the reasons why they can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t pursue something.  That type of thinking keeps you right where you are now: stuck.  The moment people start to think about why they can, should and will do something, it changes things dramatically.  They move from being a victim, or feeling stuck – to being in a position of power, to being in the driver’s seat, to being in control – and that makes all the difference in the world as they pursue their goals and dreams.

JONATHAN ALPERT, a licensed psychotherapist and advice columnist, is one of the media’s favorite sources of no-nonsense lifestyle advice, quotes, and commentary. The New York Observer has called him “Manhattan’s most media-friendly psychotherapist” and “the media’s go-to guy for psychoanalyzing the City.”

Visit Twitter: Facebook:

His book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days was published by Center Street / Hachette on April 24, 2012. The book is written with Alisa Bowman.. a superbly talented writer whom I greatly admire.

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  1. Hi Monica,
    Thanks for this update and I include herewith my own snippet of good news. Your online writing course which I enjoyed is starting to bear fruit. My first article was published on ShowCook and I have another one pending.
    Article: – Cooking with wine & Spirits – may be viewed on my blog which also links it to Showcook where it was first published. Go to
    Thank you for the course and thank you for this recent update; I hope you will pop along to view my article which is on my blog as well as that of ShowCook.
    Kind thoughts
    Kate Abbott

  2. Thank you for this great post and interview, Monica. You’ve voiced so many of the concerns we all have and this really gives me hope.

    Best wishes,

  3. Good post–and oh so true. As someone who has been in the industry for so long these fears are like an old (unwanted) companion. Very inspiring read–thank you!

  4. Good morning, Monica! This is perfect timing for me. After a long winter of being ill, a house with 3 teenagers and all their angst, I’m coming out of the fog. I just started researching for a story that has long been near and dear to my heart, and I have a feeling that it’s going to succeed. Thanks so much for what you’ve given. Cheers!


  5. Thank you for sharing this Monica!

  6. As a writer I’ve been consciously working to stab fear in the face this year for many of the same reasons you present. It’s the reality of our business. In addition, as I’ve branched into new avenues of writing (for me, it’s opinion and analysis and essay writing) I’ve noticed new amounts of negative self talk. But I always think, what’s the worst that could happen? That someone doesn’t agree with me? That’s good in today’s media, to have a dialog with readers. Bring it on…

  7. Dear Monica, I am a doctor and have long nurtured a dream of publishing a book of shortcut recipes that have helped me when I was working at full time jobs and had a new born on my hands and absolutely no help. Well I did write the book. Unfortunately it was rejected by a publisher who said that the writing was good but they didn’t have place on their list for a cook book. Well of course I was disappointed and went into a prolonged hiatus until I read your interview in the Good Housekeeping magazine. I was inspired and I decided that if I couldn’t get published I would definitely start a blog and keep writing . Even if that didn’t make me any money at least people would still read me. I write a blog now called Shortcut Indian Weekday Cooking. I’m still working at improving my book and maybe I will take your online course one day when I have the money. Meanwhile I follow you on twitter and feel good reading your articles. For writers(even though I’m not one )- I’d like to share that even though the business is slow there is a new publishing house called Duckbill that has just popped up on the horizon. So I guess every day is a new day. It brings new surprises and we just have to live it to the fullest

  8. thanks for this – looking forward to reading your e-book and learning more!

  9. Thanks for this column, and to Lisa Palmer for pointing it out. I write for a niche that is keeping me fairly busy, but I do have a Plan B … and Plan C … and even part of a Plan D, just in case. I don’t have the same skills as a 20-something-year-old who moves easily in the blogosphere and multimedia world … but I have other skills, honed over 30-plus years in the business, and I have to remember that. When anxiety strikes, I also remember that people were predicting the-end-of-newspapers-at-any-moment in 1978, when I graduated with a journalism degree. While the field has shrunk considerably, it hasn’t disappeared. Ditto with magazines and books. Ours is a culture of words and we will always need wordsmiths, although that may take different forms in the future.

  10. Great post, Monica! I started reading this book recently and I’m enjoying it—lots of unconventional advice.

  11. Monica, you already know all about my fears and some steps I’ve been taking to keep moving forward. But I love this book’s messages and can’t wait to read it! For me, being aware of my fears and acknowledging them is a way of taking their power away. Thanks for sharing this lovely interview!

  12. Writers, musicians, teachers, farmers…we all know the uncertainty of our livelihoods, along with countless others. The bottom line is that life truly is uncertain. There was a book some years ago called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, and your interview reminded me of it. “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman is another. Thank you for pointing out this truth.

  13. Hi Monica – Thanks for this post and these insights. I loved the exercise that we did at Eat, Write, Retreat and all of your great advice. I think I need to take some time to work on how to move forward so that I can start implementing all of it and work through my fears to where I really want to be!

  14. I like your idea that it’s important to take action even though the publishing world is changing so dramatically. I read a very interesting post – about journalism – on that dug into the idea that we need a new framework to understand the news industry. I think it’s true of publishing too and maybe that framework is just not clear yet. Thanks for your post – and your blog!

  15. Monica – great interview and post. Resonated a lot with me as I am trying to get my start-up off the ground. Have felt that fear paralysis and have slowly started to find ways to counter it. Have definitely found that I can do more than I thought – but it’s a long road to fulfilling my dream (which is a big one!) be fearless – its the only way to go forward.

  16. Thank you very much, Monica, for another inspirational post. As a freelancer, I was faced very often with the difficulties of explaining to people that writing is not easy and the words are worth more than a tight deadline and a ridiculous negotiation for every single penny. Especially when you do content writing, the client often might require unrealistic tasks: writing or editing hundreds of pages for few dollars and so on. When this is your main source of income, it could be frustrating. But when you succeed to provide quality work and you think positively and you enjoy writing new topics and improving the quality of writing, any frustrations are only an intermediate stage. I tried very often to do something else than writing, but now I am convinced that I cannot do anything but writing and, generally, working with words.

  17. How truly uplifting! It’s a bigger world than you think when you realize that text between two hard covers is not the only way to go, not the only way to be validated or read. A group blog I am honored to write for has a higher circulation than all but a few literary magazines, for instance. I am grateful for a big readership, even though I could never have foreseen it happening this way.

  18. Thanks Monica! Needed some more inspiration this week with a significant amount of work ahead of me across different projects.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this Monica. It’s helpful to know that those writers I look up to and admire often have the same periods of doubt, but that they overcome them and keep pushing on.

  20. Hi Monica. Thanks for sharing this — it actually came at a crucial moment of self-doubt for me. I graduate tomorrow from my MFA program, and while it’s been a very fulfilling journey, I didn’t quite hit the (admittedly lofty) goals I’d set for myself. I know I’m well on my way, but still, it’s been a bit of a bittersweet moment. So I appreciate the insight — and I’m definitely going to check out Be Fearless.

  21. Just yesterday I had a slight setback with an assignment and have let it throw me into a horrible funk. When you said “I was (and sometimes still am) so afraid that this industry will fail and that I will fail that it has stopped me cold in my tracks,” that pretty much embodied exactly what I am going through right now. I am not sure exactly what to do next, so I flail and worry and drink coffee and fail to throw myself into the work the way I should.

    This essay came at exactly the right moment for me, and has helped me get a little perspective on my current situation. Thanks!

  22. Dear Monica,

    Hello from Seattle! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us. These are precious reminders, so easily forgotten in the paralysis of fear driven second guessing and self flagellation. I am privy to each and every one of those on my journey from high flying technology career to pursuing my food dreams. Ten step backwards, one step forward. The temptation to quit is often all consuming, esp when friends and family check in for annual updates on “how is your dream coming along?” 🙂 Many authors including you have been leaving small guiding lamps on my path whenever the road was the darkest . For that I am very grateful. Have your author tours taken you to the west coast? I would love to host you on a community dialog about food, parenthood and pursuing a creative vocation. Do let me know in advance if you are planning to be in or near Seattle. With love and warmth, Archana p.s. This is great timing. This Sunday, i am attending a showcase by 5 Seattle area women from South Asian origin. They have christened their showcase : The Creative Collective . I will read this note for them that evening. Each of them has and continues to traverse the path through extreme darkness of fear and paralysis.

  23. This is a subject that never goes away for me, Monica. Fortunately, it ebbs and flows or I would never get anything done! You have addressed it with honesty. And interviewing Jonathan Alpert was a great idea.

  24. I applaud you for being so open and vulnerable in this post. I know that fear has blocked me from reaching my full potential. It helps to know that it’s possible to overcome. The interview project and your e-book sound inspirational. I would love a copy, Monica.

  25. Hi Monica – thanks for the great post and for the interview; both were particularly encouraging. It really is the fear, more than the ‘thing itself’ that is paralysing. Your post and interview came as I’m working through my first lesson exercises of your food writing course; I know it will be challenging to have a great food writing career, but ‘why not me’ as the next person who gets a great six figure deal for a cookbook or to promote a product on her blog? And the answer is ‘why not me’. Best wishes.

  26. Thank you for posting this! My dreams are safe to be “somedays” instead of eventualities because of fear. I let it overshadow what I do instead of trying it first, whether it be something as small as posting more on my blog or as life-changing as going to pastry school. This was an encouraging post and it’s inspired me to write for the sake of enjoyment! I will definitely check out Be Fearless!

  27. Monica, What a wonderful post and interview. The “worst case scenario” mindset can be paralyzing, but the re-frame exercise helps a lot. As a recovering lawyer, all my professional training and experience makes worst case planning feel natural and right. But in fact, it holds me back in other spheres, so I’m going to re-frame much more than my individual thoughts!

  28. Even those of us who write often need to be propelled forward and step out of our fear. This is a great reminder.

    I just taught at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico and founder Deborah Szekely says, “Don’t dream small.” She is correct, as is Johnathan Alpert.

    You’ve made my Wednesday even better. I am grateful.

  29. Great post, Monica! I’m so glad I read this!

  30. This is so inspiring, Monica! We live with so much angst and fears that hold us back. We must learn to overcome it all. Thanks for sharing this! All the best!

  31. As always you are thought provoking and inspiring while remaining realistic. My admiration for you continues to grow. You’ve inspired so many food writers (myself included) it’s sometimes good to hear things weren’t/aren’t always easy for you and other accomplished writers as well.

  32. The market is changing. It’s time to be fearless and time to see what new opportunities are opening up. Old markets may be disappearing but new ones are coming “online” quite literally.

  33. My two daughters are twelve and thirteen, and it’s hard for me to teach them how to face their fears when I am fighting my own demons:) This year has been life-changing for many of us, and I am grateful to you for constantly offering inspiration and saying the right words at the right time. There are several of your essays that I try to remember as I succumb to my insecurities and fears, and just knowing that I am not alone helps immensely.
    I read in an interview that Sir Lawrence Olivier experienced severe stage fright before every performance. He did not try to fight it, but took it as a reminder to try to be the best every time he stepped on the stage.
    That was a great interview with Jonathan Alpert – I have to look for his book!

  34. I actually just left my full-time day job two months ago to become a freelance food writer. It has been going very well so far (*knocks on wood*), but there isn’t a day that goes by that where I’m not scared that the opportunities will stop. I totally agree that you have to keep writing, keep pitching and keep hoping. If you love what you do, things have a way of working out!

    Those are my thoughts and I’m sticking to ’em! 🙂

  35. This is a very inspiring essay. And I liked how well you put it out there.

  36. It’s a great book. I started reading it just before the ASJA conference and wrote about it on my blog as well. I plan to go through the program after Michelle Rafter’s blogathon ends. Should be an interesting experiment for June. Glad you got a chance to interview him.

  37. Thanks for sharing, Monica. It takes incredible courage to say “I am struggling” and I applaud you for it.
    After years of stopping and starting and questioning and deliberating, I have finally started to take concrete steps towards my “dream project”. It’s going to be a long road but when I ask myself if I’m willing to stop writing just because I fear I may never be published, my inner voice says “no”.
    Thanks for inspiring the rest of us!

  38. Mariska van Aalst

    I greatly admire Alisa Bowman as well! Thanks for your post — well-timed to coincide with this week’s moment of neurotic overdrive.

  39. There prevailing tone among current writers is gloomy. When there are paradigm shifts within an industry and an art form, there is a lot of fear and discomfort and this tenor is discouraging for the aspiring. I don’t think art or writing will ever “die” so I look at this instead as an evolution. I’m trying to lok at this time as a chance to see and experience something new and exciting instead of being daunted and threatened by it.

  40. I said to a friend yesterday that I’d love to be 22 again. She immediately assumed it was b/c I wanted to be single and slender! LOL! No, it was b/c I’d have a level of fearlessness I don’t have today. My goal is to recapture the confidence I had as a young adult and let go of the fear that has grown to constrain my life. Your post came at a perfect time for me, thank you!

  41. Monica, this could not be more timely. I am actively working on breaking down my fear patterns and hauling myself to a better place — and making life better from there. I am going to succeed to the point where I can take care of myself and be generous to my friends, and not feel a pinch of pocket or wince of fear.

    Last month, at a conference, author Daylle Deanna Schwartz gave me a link to get one of her books for free: How Do I Love Me, which is a guide to getting over self-hatred and learning to treat oneself with love, compassion, and respect.

    It was a profound relief, learning from Daylle that I was not alone in having patterns of self-sabotaging and self-loathing; to be offered a road map out was a great gift.

    Now, a month later, with equally impeccable timing, you do the same: show me that I am anything but alone in being undermined by fear, that others are also determined to break through the paralysis of terror, and that there are known, effective ways out.

    I trust you, and that makes all the difference.

    The dream is changing, not dying.

    I see this truth in my life. A few months ago, I decided that I would work to put lean times behind, and that I would overcome shyness and wariness, and ask for support.

    Now, doors are opening. Possibilities are rising. And yes, I feel the worst-case serpent and the fear scorpion readying themselves to attack.

    Having faith can be challenging. At the best of times, entering the unknown can be frightening.

    But there Daylle is. There you are. There is the encouraging email message from a friend. There are the other voices responding to your post. There are ebooks, ready in my phone or iPad, available at any hour in almost any place.

    We are not alone. And none of our dreams are dead.

  42. Hi Monica —

    I know this past year has been rough for you — and I’m with you. The past seven months for me have been horrendous.

    But I also know, as you have stated, that there are folks in our field flourishing, and that opportunity ALWAYS abounds. They key thing is to WANT to do this, NEED to do it, and LOVE to do it, and then to take action.

    When I “move my butt,” I have success. When stagnant, well…

    Thanks for the great post and interview.



  43. Thanks for posting this. It’s applicable even to those of us who are not writers, but are trying to figure out the next stage.

  44. Such an excellent post and now I want to get this book! We had just attained our “Dream LIfe” in 2007 when the recession hit us hard in 2008. We had moved to our lake home, my husband landed a good job and my writing business was doing well. Unfortunately, 80% of my business was in newspapers and another 10% in print pubs when the bottom fell out and my husband was laid off of his job. It was a difficult couple of years rebuilding my business into a web based writing company, but we never gave up on the dream. My husband was eventually called back to his job and my business, although not at pre-2008 figures, is staying afloat. Fear could have paralyzed us, but we decided we had no choice but to move forward.

  45. Thanks for sharing your journey, through good times and bad. Your transparency and insights are inspiring. Thanks also for the Alpert interview; his book sounds like just the right kick-start to dreaming big

  46. Wonderful article and interview! Consistency and persistence are not words we hear or concepts we practice enough in our quest for immediate gratification, but they are necessary. So rarely is someone an overnight success – it’s often years of commitment, experimentation and work that gets people to where they want to be in life – to the life that truly and most authentically represents them. It’s a choice to indulge fear and a choice to look it straight in the eye and get on about your business of making an inspired personal and professional life for yourself.

  47. I’ve stopped pitching into the black hole because I don’t have time to waste. And I refuse to do business with anyone who makes me chase after a check. And because I left Manhattan three and a half years ago and have been living overseas ever since, my life as a freelance writer for U.S. newspapers and magazines has become ever more remote, but I feel excited about the opportunities of blogging and social media and think there’s always a home for good writing, so in the end I feel optimistic, if not exactly sure where my next pay check will come from.

  48. Hi, Monica — Thanks so much for this oh-so-relevant post and interview. As a former NYC caterer and food writer who overcame her fears and joined the Peace Corps at the age of 50 and subsequently wrote a book about that exciting experience (titled How to Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes), I can attest to the fact that great things may be lurking on the other side of fear.

  49. Thank you. I am new to the writing community and haven’t felt the fear yet and I don’t want to. I’m a positive person and I love everything that reinforces positive thinking.

  50. Thanks for inspiring Monica, you always do 🙂 I always wish I was like my kids, who have no inhibitions in whatever they do.And maybe for the same reason,my 10 year old already writes so well for her age and acknowledging the fact that she came to this English speaking country only 5 years back,I’m so proud ! I will look for “be fearless” and hope I’ll be living up to it one day .

  51. I know about fear and dealing with it on a daily level more than most and have been fighting it for my whole life and this isn’t the worst. I came into food writing late in the game but it is something I love so much and am so passionate about that I face the fear of this thing, of failure, not living up to the competition, head on, and it is that passion that truly helps me stay focused and working. I must say that up until now I’ve been lucky not to have to support my family with my writing so I have been able to hone my skills, try my hand, make myself known, and build the foundation for a new career. Now I’ve jumped in with both feet and so far so good and, to be honest, just when our financial situation has changed and I need to think of it in those terms as well. I try and set realistic goals and do think that because I feel like I am doing what I am best at, what I was meant to do, it will all turn out well. And I firmly believe that people will continue to love to read and thus we will be able to continue to write. Thank you for another thoughtful post and interview – you always open up this space for thought and discussion.

  52. You’ve inspired me to put my big girl pants on and stare down the fear!

  53. Thank you, Monica for your honesty. I’ve been going through a fear derived funk. I can’t wait to download this book.

  54. Friends: I have the second post in the BE FEARLESS series: How to overcome fear of writing fiction –

  55. Great post! Happy that Alisa pointed it out to me. Looking forward to reading your ebook.

  56. I love this post. Because most of my life, I let fear either stop me or slow me down. Done with that! Call me crazy, but I am approaching writing from the other direction. After a career in the corporate world as a MarCom manager, I was “downsized” and now am taking the plunge to write fiction — something always on my bucket list. It may or may not help me keep my daughter in college or my Condo over my head, but it is bringing me great joy. I teamed with a friend who is also a Baby Boomer/single Mom/downsized professional and we have morphed into Crystal Sharpe, the pen name we use for our Sandra Troux Mystery series. We have taken the self-published e-book route and altho sales are slow and small, we have faith. In fact, we are working on the 2nd book of the series with plot lines for book 3 already outlined. I realize we are reinventing ourselves at a time when our expectations are all shrinking, but then…why not? Even so, I look forward to reading this book because I have always had some fear or other to hold me back, but now I am tired of letting fear win!

  57. Thanks for the article. Love that even when you were feeling paralyzed you moved forward. Too often my answer is to stay stuck.

  58. This post really hit me in the heart. I have been on the edge of getting back into writing (after 5 yrs of being a all hand on deck mom) and I have such FEAR over diving back in. I did a lot of magazine work at that time and had started a novel. Now all my contacts are gone, my clips are so old and the novel had more dust than words…I dont regret the time with my girls but regret not being able to balance it better. I know for me its all a head game and I have to just suck it up and get going again…write. even when it sucks. keep writing. I have been writing in my head for the last few months thinking about what I will actually type…I just need to TYPE! Thanks for the post and inspiration to get going again. As terrified as I am its also exciting :-}

  59. Monica I would love to see that ebook. I love the cooking part every bit as much as the writing part, so for me, as no doubt for many others, no question of stopping at my desk or in my kitchen. Here’s I think the thing with us cookbook authors/writers. Our profession, unlike many other professions, is practiced in solitude, whether at our desk or at our stove, and we do not get the benefit of feedback and comparing notes on a regular basis with our fellow professional. Another consequence of our semi-confinement is, we tend to think we are alone on that boat, whereas as soon as we get a chance (like when you posted about it) we all start thinking: Wow, that makes almost all of us. There’s a Hebrew proverb that says: “Tsarot Rabim, Chatzi Nechama” Which translates as: “if many of us have the problem, we feel half consoled” It is when I look around me and realize that many talented writers are making a minimal living out of exerting their talent that I tell myself, keep going!

  60. Hi Monica,

    Thanks for the wonderful blog entry and interview. It’s good to get these occasional gooses in the creative ribs.

    I’ve been writing since I was big enough to string words together, professionally since my early 20s and about food for the past few years. One thing I find enormously helpful is to remember that you don’t create in a vacuum and that it is wise not to think you can get by doing nothing but write. Creatively, intellectually, socially and spiritually, we need contact with others and we need variety in our lives. I get that by getting out of my kitchen and away from my computer and teaching–both writing and cooking. By doing the odd catering gig. By casting a wider net that not only gives me more income, but that puts me in contact with more people and allows me to learn and grow. All this makes my time at the computer more productive.

    Thanks for the dose of courage and encouragement!



  61. Hi Monica,
    I must say that you do a good job of inspiring people around you as you you also inspire me. Someday I hope to write a cookbook just like yourself, someday…Fear of failure is always lurking around though. Your article is truly motivating and realistic.
    Courageous and inspiring Monica to the rescue!!!!!!


  62. Dear Monica,
    So glad this was posted to our Facebook group. It crossed my path just when I needed this lesson. I’ve spent the last several weeks connecting with colleagues and gathering information to put my writing plans in place for the rest of the year. I must admit that fear was holding me back from actually implementing parts of the plan. Now I will “Be Fearless!”

  63. This hits home – I am in construction (as a construction manager/owner’s rep), and I completely recognize that paralyzing fear of the past few years. I am self-employed, and my business went from 80 hours a week and an excellent salary in 2008 to nothing in 2009. I had a year and a half with almost no work. I was scared, and I didn’t really do anything to change things. I just coasted and wallowed in my fear. It was telling, as I’d always felt very take-charge and capable up until then. I let fear completely stop me sea just to stay in my comfort zone.

    I wish I had an inspiring story about re-crafting myself, finding other options or repositioning my career, but I don’t. My industry picked up (it is a feast or famine one) and now I am super-busy again. But the underlying issue is still there. And when things slow again, I won’t be any better positioned to deal with it than I was last time.

    Change is hard.

  64. I’ve admired your writing since I first discovered you — and so enjoyed the class I took with you. You’re very talented and deserve success and recognition. And money. Fear is powerful, isn’t it? It gives birth to inertia. I love to write and won’t stop. I need a lot of self-talk to get me to move, to do, not just “to write.” Sometimes I think I just settle, too, thinking it’s okay that I just have a nice little blog and write a nice little column for the local paper. But I need the proverbial kick in the you-know-where to raise my own expectations. Thanks for that kick today.

  65. Thanks so much for this post and interview — a great reminder to be a writer and write!

  66. A very interesting post: thank you. I think I can recognize when fear affects my thoughts and actions, but overcoming it is not so easy. The book sounds appealing.

  67. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to quit my day job selling fresh fish (yes, very un-glamorous, and smelly), and not have to stress about working. One might think I’d jump at the chance. But I’d dragged my feet for months, despite the long hours and the fact that I smelled like an old, wet box of fish six days a week. Why did it take me months to let go?
    I was afraid.
    What would I do? I mused.
    I stopped talking about writing a cookbook and I started writing and cooking.
    I’m still writing and cooking. And I hold on to my dream-to be a published author. I’ve taken small jobs for $.05 a word, worked part-time editing a cookbook, take writing classes and attend webinars and workshops. It may take me longer than some to fulfill my dream, but I can’t imagine giving up.

  68. Aside from all the traditional fears about writing, and believe me those I have too, marketing my own material is the latest. The website that I have been writing for has reformatted and now pays per how many people are active on the material through Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I understand that’s how it’s going, but I’ve had one business fail because I wasn’t good at marketing, where do I start with this? Your article has given me encouragement and the reminder that things have always changed. Thank you.
    P.S. I know I’m late to this post, but I found it indirectly through a blog listed on Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites. Thought you’d like to know.

    1. Thanks, Ann. it is not easy I know..Hang in there and thanks for your comment. I did not know about the Writers Digest thing and will check it now.

  69. Your post is a great reminder that I can give into fear or follow my heart’s desire in spite of the fear. I’ve been in publishing for many years and saw the very large company I worked for slowly dismantle until there was nothing left after sending jobs overseas. I’ve been editing and helping people get published my entire working career and ignoring the persistent inner voice that desperately wants to write and share. It breaks my heart that I’ve never given my writing the time and attention I’ve given to others. And at the same time, there is hope 🙂

  70. Thank you so much for this article. I’m at the budding stage as a writer, after a life time of living as a foodie, cook and world traveler. It’s been fear that has stopped me from getting down to writing. It’s my new year’s commitment for 2013, to start food writing and to hook up with foodies in my community and beyond..

  71. I’m commenting quite late since you published this Monica, but nearly a year later this advice is still so relevant to me. I’m at a major life crossroads and want to give writing a shot – well I have been writing for a while, but I have failed to get up the courage to “be published” and other attempts at being recognized have only been accepted by outlets that can’t afford to pay for work. Maybe they can, but they take advantage of the novice and naive…like myself. My goal this year, or for the future is to give-up fear, believe, go for it! Thanks for sharing.

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