For this excuse, I need to thank a colleague who asked me for advice for a friend, who's looking into doing freelance writing.

"I'm not ready."
It's hard to treat this as just another excuse, because it's really a self-sabotaging mindset most people starting on a new adventure or career path cling to for as long as possible until a better excuse comes along.

Issues? I gotz 'em.

Why should this excuse bother me so much? Because it pokes at the heart of our dreams and goals, looking for the loophole to keep us in a holding pattern. It leaves us terrified enough to put off taking that next step to bring us closer to our goal.

For me, "I'm not ready" stopped me from sending article queries to some major Canadian magazines. Sure, I had a portfolio of clippings, but I still didn't feel that I had the chops to swim in the big pool. I was comfortable in the kiddie pool, even though my water wings were starting to pinch and my lips were turning blue.

There were a gazillion reasons why I wasn't ready to approach those editors. That's why writers are so great at sabotaging their own careers: we can create a very believable list of reasons to do anything but succeed. ;)

And then someone named Michelle Rowen told me to pitch an article to Homemakers magazine anyway. "Just do it already," she had said. "The worst thing that could happen is they say no."

So I wrote up a query letter and revised it... for about a week. Then, just when I was sure an instantaneous rejection would soon follow, I hit "send."

As soon as I released the key, nothing happened.

The sky didn't fall. Cabana boys didn't suddenly burst into song. Life simply went on, just like it had before. It was a big relief actually. Michelle and I celebrated my huge victory (actually sending the damn query) and I continued on with my other projects.

After about a month, Homemakers wrote me back. Not just Homemakers, but the editor. She even used my name and everything.

Apparently, according to her, I was more than ready. Not only did she assign me that article, I've gone on to write a few more for them. And, once I get back on the article-query bandwagon (yeah, I gotz excuses for that one too), hopefully I'll be able to do a lot more.

So the whole "I'm not ready" thing is an act of self-preservation that actually prevents you from learning. Sure, maybe if I had tried querying that magazine a year earlier I might have been rejected, but I know if I had waited another year to pitch an idea, I would have missed out on the other opportunities that followed the initial article I wrote for them.

In other words, suck it up and take the next step. If you're not "ready," you may just connect with someone who can help you get there. You won't know unless you try.

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