Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Last year I wrote about how believing in yourself is the key component to success.

I’ve come to realize that faith of this kind isn’t something one has or doesn’t have, but something you need to work at each and every day.

Belief in one’s self is more like a muscle than a state of being.

I was approached about an awesome job the other day. This job would mean a return to the corporate world, but it promised to be exciting and well-paying.

After too many years of focusing on jobs that were originally supposed to pay the bills while I concentrated on making my dream of writing fiction full-time a reality, I left corporate life to see what would happen if I really gave my writing 100% of my energy, creativity, and attention.

The first year, I struggled to find balance. I was still doing too much freelance work, letting it expand to fill any available space. The second year, I did much better. I got an article published in a national magazine again, and a publishing contract with Samhain for The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave.

I was convinced that 2015 would be even better. I’d finally figured out how to balance my various passions and make my fiction the top priority. Things were great. I felt extremely fortunate to be my own boss and make my own decisions. And then, just when I was feeling invincible, along came that job.

Why did it turn my head?

It would mean a regular salary, which is tempting when you’re a freelancer and people aren’t above waiting months to pay you for your work.

It would mean being out in the corporate world again, actively appreciated and respected for what I do, making a difference (conveniently forgetting, of course, all those times I wasn’t appreciated and respected).

I’d be able to save more money for our move, but when you factor in the higher tax bracket, and that I’d need a car, the dreaded corporate wardrobe, and other various sundries required when you work in an office, probably not as much as it looked on paper.

Ultimately, it came down to one thing.

Did I believe in myself, or not?

If I took this job, I’d be right back where I started in 2012. It would be a better job, but I’d be spending my days doing something that wasn’t my dream, while my writing got relegated to weekends and early mornings, assuming I still had it in me to work in my precious spare time.

I really struggled with this. In spite of the Samhain victory, part of me believes that I still haven’t proven my worth as a fiction writer. Communications and journalism, I’m confident about. I’ve already made my living that way for years.

What if I never get published? Or what if I self-publish and the book doesn’t sell?

I remembered something Jim Carrey said in a commencement speech last year.

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

I decided not to take the job.

I may not get published, but deep down I have to believe I will. I need that faith to get me through umpteen rejections, bad reviews, ignored blog posts, and other disappointments.

If belief is a muscle, I have to start flexing.

How do you believe in yourself in the absence of proof?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
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  1. Mary Pax

    That can be rough. There are lots of pits on this journey. I have a ‘success’ drawer where I’ve written down all the positive things that have happened. I read them over whenever I need to. I have the opposite fear – of a publishing contract and not selling. So I decided to build my audience first. Fighting for your dream takes guts. I’m rooting for you!

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Mary. I appreciate your kindness and encouragement.

      I’ve started to write down my wins as well. It’s so easy to focus on our failures and forget all the milestones we reached along the way.

    • JH

      Hi Tia,

      Welcome to my blog! That is the best compliment you could have given me–I love that I made you think.

      Carrey’s comment resonates with me because the choice of a safe day job over what we really want to do is ALL about security, but even in “safe” day jobs, there is no security or guarantees.

      Good luck with all your goals! I wish you the best too.

  2. Lori L. MacLaughlin

    I love that Jim Carrey quote. On my wall, I have two small posters. One says “All things are possible if you believe.” The other is from an old 1991 Macintosh ad entitled “Dream Big.” (http://figment.com/books/337118-Dream-Big-Macintosh-Ad-1991)
    I read them when I begin to doubt my choice to follow my dream of being a published author. Best of luck to you! I wish you all the success!

    • JH

      Thanks Lori, and welcome to my blog! I hope I “see” you again around here.

      I love those two quotes. I have a little magnet that says “Dream Big.” I keep it on my treadmill, and it never fails to inspire me.

      I appreciate your kind words. Hopefully we can succeed together!

  3. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. I love the idea of believing in ourselves as a muscle, one that can be worked on and trained and bulked up. And that Jim Carrey quote is awesome.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Madeline. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Who knew that Jim Carrey could be so inspiring?

  4. Samantha Bryant

    I like the idea of belief in yourself as a muscle you can strengthen over time, with practice. Great post!

    • JH

      Thanks, Samantha! Glad you liked it. I find it to be so true.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Anna! I really hope you’re right…but I’ll do more than hope, I’ll keep working towards it.

  5. Diane Burton

    That had to be a hard decision. I remember a saying “Do what you love and the money will come.” After 20+ years writing (with hiatuses to work at a paying job), I’m finally seeing the money. Not enough to take a world tour vacation but enough to validate my work. With each book, the sales increase. But it’s a good thing we don’t depend on my income. LOL

    • JH

      Congrats, Diane! That’s great news. I believe in that quote too. The next time I’m faced with temptation, I’ll keep that in mind.

      So happy to hear of your success! Success stories are so important.

  6. Georgina Morales

    You are such a brave woman! Good for you for believing in your dream and sticking to it. I’m sure you’ll do great!

    Best of luck!

    • JH

      Thanks, Georgina! I appreciate the words of support.

  7. Donna McDine

    Kudos for your commitment and flex your muscle! You can do it!

    • JH

      Thanks, Donna! I’ll do my best.

  8. Stephanie Faris

    I’m so impressed. I do think that was the right decision. I’m guilty of relying on the crutch of a day job for 19 years. Now I’m doing what I love…and I don’t have to get up early in the morning to go sit at a desk in an office where I’m miserable. Life’s too short for that!

    • JH

      I agree, Stephanie! It took me ten years to realize that the corporate world wasn’t for me, and it’s hard not to beat myself up over that. I have no idea why I’d ever consider going back.

      I most appreciate it after a holiday. Knowing that I don’t have to drag myself back into an office on Monday is priceless.

  9. Frank

    I’m finally getting caught up on my reading. I’ve liked many of your posts but this one should be framed and mailed to almost everyone I know. People often marvel at that faith I have in myself but it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I fight my inner demons for that self confidence and every time I win that fight, the next fight becomes that much easier.

    I loved this post.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Frank. You really made my day today!

      Btw, The Boy works at a camera shop, so I could see about a discount on frames…;)


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