The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

It’s amazing how often the best of us undermine ourselves and sell our dreams short. We live in an age of unprecedented creative expression; the Internet and social media (while seriously flawed) has afforded ingenious minds the opportunity to connect with audiences far beyond their physical reach. While my blog is relatively small compared to some, I still have followers in counties like India, Libya, Egypt and a myriad of other places I had never imagined my words would reach. Yet for all this creative expression and acceptance of art, so many of us are so full of self-doubt that we unwillingly commit self-sabotage every time we post something.

Counterintuitive isn’t it? How can we be expressing ourselves and amassing an audience in far reaching locations, yet lynch our efforts all at once?

The answer: by degrading ourselves and our works through by using bullshit words like aspiring or would-be.

Every single day I receive countless emails from bloggers all over the globe who are reaching out hoping to connect with a like-minded soul. I try to respond to as many of them as I can, but the truth is that sometimes I’m stretched so thin that emails pile up and it takes me weeks to get back to that beautiful soul who took the time to contact me. My time management has always been fairly shit, but I try my best. I love hearing from people; even the ones that choose to rat me out or create malicious posts about me on public forums. But after three years of reading and responding to countless emails there’s a definitive trend that I’ve noticed in the contact I have with others.

It goes like this:

Dear Chris,

            I am an aspiring writer/musician/artist/entrepreneur/whatever…

Or like this:

Dear Chris,

            I am a would-be writer/musician/artist/entrepreneur/whatever…

…Fuck that. You’re not an aspiring anything. If you have a blog, or a band, or a half completed manuscript or business plan then you’ve made it and you’re selling yourself short by placing a bullshit adjective in front of whom you really are. You’re a goddamn writer, or musician, or artist so quit allowing your self-doubt to sabotage the brilliance within you. Stand up and show the world who you are and what you are creating because chances are it’s magnificent. And even if it’s not, you should stand proud knowing that you have breathed life into a labour of love.

There’s a real disparity between the truly talented and the snake oil peddlers who would love to convince you that they are. Trust me, it’s a lesson that I’ve learned the hard way. Take a look at the URL at the top of this page and you’ll note the word would-be in it. Even I was an aspiring writer at one point.

While these snake oil peddlers occupy space and become recognized not for their talent but their smooth tongue, the best of us tend to hold back; we toil over our crafts and work towards our dreams in near silence. We want to be heard, but we want to save face and distance ourselves from the possibility that our works won’t be well received. That adjective aspiring allows us a safety net if we fall short when reaching for our dreams. We can give up and say ‘I was an aspiring artist once. Sadly it didn’t work out.’

And so often it doesn’t. Not because we’re undeserving, and not because we aren’t talented enough to succeed. But because you allow yourself to be comfortable with the idea of failure by saying that you never quite got there in the first place.

Alright. Let’s pause and take a moment, because I’m sure that I’ve upset a few people. Let’s just cool off. You can swear at your screen if you want to. Call me names; tell me I’m being unfair. But I’d be willing to wager a bet that if you look within yourself you would struggle to tell me that I’m wrong.

So why do it? Why put yourself through that degradation that breaks your hopes and dreams just as they’re coming to fruition? Why limit yourself to just being someone who aspires to be more? Why not stand up, pull back those slouched shoulders and say ‘I’m not aspiring towards shit. I’ve already made it?’ Why not embrace that you are a writer/musician/artist or whatever else? Why keep turning tricks and selling yourself short?

You’re talented. You’re brilliant. And you’re beautiful. But you’re your own worst enemy. You can be whoever the hell you want to be. You’ve just got to stand up and show the world who that is. I love hearing from my readers. I really do. I love hearing of their successes, their lessons learned through failure, and their hopes and dreams for the future. But the thing I love the most is when someone sends me an email that starts by saying:

Dear Chris,

            I am a writer/musician/artist/entrepreneur/whatever…

Because I know right from that very first line that the man or woman contacting me isn’t afraid to open their heart to the world and let their creativity flow. They’re bold enough to be themselves and stand proudly beside their accomplishments.

It’s time to let go of your way out and ditch that shitty little adjective. Quit turning tricks and selling yourself short. Stand up and stake your claim. You deserve it.

83 thoughts on “Turning Tricks

  1. rohinikunnathu says:

    Great motivation for creative and talented people who always consider themselves lower than others or may even stop being creative because they are afraid of criticism. I think your blog will help so many people to be what they want and not hide behind excuses!

  2. gpeynon says:

    Wonderful, uplifting post. Thanks a lot. Funnily enough, I was just looking at my Twitter profile which says ‘sci-fi writer…’ and thinking I’ve never really been too comfortable with that label (I’m yet to publish my first novel), but after reading this, that title sits a lot better with me. Thanks again.

  3. Very uplifting post Chris! I will be removing ‘aspiring’ from in front of writer immediately! Thank you!

  4. Harmonie says:

    I’m feeling like an award winning writer, lol. Thank you, its very sweet of you! And today, and probably tomorrow and also for the days to come I’ll be thinking of myself in a more optimistic way. At least I will try. 😀
    Will you reply if I mail you! I mean I never tried that, I’m so cynical and pessimistic that even if I can contact someone famous and fabulous, I don’t try, I think to myself – “Shut up you fool, don’t bother people, nobody needs your stupid opinion!”, “I will feel a little disappointed if s/he does not reply, let it be, they know how awesome they are.”, “S/he doesn’t even have the time to read, they’re busy, not as good-for-nothing as you”. It’s so kind of you to reply to mails from your readers.
    Thanks again, best wishes and regards. ❤

    1. Hi Harmonie. If you ever decide to email I’ll be sure to respond. I tend not to reply to comments as I’d rather leave the commenting to others. But you needn’t be so cynical! A few years ago I was feeling quite lost with my writing and reached out to a rather famous author who had grown up in my home town and found that he was kind enough to write back a number of times, even offering writing advice and minor critiques. You never know how generous a stranger can be until you reach out and contact them.

      1. Harmonie says:

        I agree. It’s bad on my part to think of writers in this manner (they obviously write to express and connect with people) I’m honored to have met you. 😀
        And yes strangers! I’m happy that thankfully most strangers I’ve yet come across are as kind and thoughtful as you. 😀

  5. JC says:

    Thanks for your post! Great motivation! It’s sad to say, but we are our worst enemies.

  6. Sheila North says:

    Quite right. I am a writer because I write. I *aspire* for a publisher to take me on, and for more people to buy my books.

    “Dear Chris, I am a writer. Please buy my books …”

    Will that do?

  7. Scott Jansen says:

    don’t write for now, write with timeless intention. write for love!

    love from the 021

  8. seagullsea says:

    That is exactly how I feel too.
    There are so many people pretending to be creative who do not dare to publish one original word or sing or whatever and then there’s us.scared .humble.unsure.
    Thank you for the helping hand pulling all those artistic souls up on the mountain where they can see and appreciate the gorgeous view. lets not be afraid to shine! !!
    I love the global village where we can voice and connect beyond our differences building a bridge of words images and creativity.

  9. BunKaryudo says:

    Hi, Chris! I am a… eh, blogger. Hey, look at that! No qualify adjective. I am also talented and brilliant. I draw the line at beautiful, though.

  10. cynthiahm says:

    Thanks for your post! I feel inspired.

  11. Ditto! lol. Good Advice! I love it.

  12. Loved this. Great words, thank you

  13. cinderbear19 says:

    Standing up and saying it loud and clear – I write, therefore I am a writer!
    Is that the hard bit, or does that come next?

  14. wow this is so great!! new perspective from how I’ve always tended to see things

  15. April says:

    Yes. We ARE. Plus it’s entertaining to respond ‘I’m a writer’ when people ask what I do. It sounds more impressive than it is! It’s not glamorously lounging in my pjs in front of a screen–although that would be nice. It’s frustratingly perching on the edge of my chair in front of a screen trying to grasp that one perfect word that fits right here!

  16. Damn, you nailed. Hell, you nailed me perfectly. Some evaluation is in order. If this doesn’t motivate me, others, then we are not “aspiring’ toward anything other than to do nothing, and many of us are succeeding.


  17. I like your style Dude…

  18. Chris you have really motivated me. Thank you!!!

  19. curtisbausse says:

    Very true, and very good advice! Chris, I’ve just finifshed Midas (great fun!) and wondered if you’d like to be the first in a ‘chain reaction’ series I’m planning. Kind of long to explain here, but if you’re interested in further details, I have a contact page on my blog.

  20. laura kilty says:

    Brilliant and uplifting post, thank you!

  21. It’s amazing the brilliant things we accomplish when we get out of our own way! Excellent article. I needed this today! Thank you….

  22. bendanarama says:

    Very true – although I will say that I never counted myself as a ‘proper’ writer until I put my first book out on Kindle!

  23. I love this. Really well written! If we are doing “it” (whatever that is) then we are no longer aspiring. Thank you.

  24. Umair Raheel says:

    Nice post Chris. After reading your post, I was compelled to visit your About Me page, and amazed to find the very first statement that goes like:
    Chris Nicholas is a twenty six year old student and aspiring author from Brisbane Australia.
    Umair R. 🙂

    1. Hi Umair,
      You are a hundred percent correct! When I originally wrote my about me section the statement was actually quite fitting. I was ‘aspiring’ and dipping my toes into the waters of my own creativity, but wasn’t yet ready to call myself a writer.
      But after a highly successful, entertaining and somewhat chaotic twelve months it’s probably about time that I updated my information….

    2. HA! I loved Chris’ post but had to laugh at your comment. Too too funny 😀

  25. Nova Brown Longhurst says:

    The best part is the bullshit you are selling yourself short moment.
    Love it! Take writing by the horns, stare the bull in the eye and then poke it’s eyes out with its own horns and stand victorious. One day down, the rest of our lives to go and that is fabulous creative time!

    Stop aspiring Chris, you just are–>as Umair R. pointed out on your bio 😉 Can fool some of the people some of the time aye 😉

  26. hahhahaha, good motivation and great replies… Go get em people!

  27. Nicola Brown says:

    It’s so refreshing to see a happy and uplifting post. fantastic

  28. unironedman says:

    Spot on indeed. I suspect when we’re lining up at the outset in God’s Great Canteen (or whatever your thing is), you can’t get a dollop of creativity on your plate without getting a side order of self-doubt. This isn’t self-serve or a la carte. As creative, artistic folk, we cannot survive in a vacuum. Well, no-one can, but we are particularly sensitive to a lack of air. We require feedback to exist. I hate to use the word validation (subway tickets are validated, not people) but that’s sort of what it is. To that end, most of us don’t want to jinx the whole thing by telling themselves they are great. It requires other people to do that for us. And when they do, of course, the self-doubt lingering on the edge of the plate manages to slop over everything. Is there an answer? Not sure, but maybe on occasion we should listen to that feedback when it arrives. It’s largely why we do what we do. Take it on board. Savour it. Learn from it. Then move on. I mean, who likes cauliflower anyway? 😉

  29. æon says:

    I am so very thankful I follow your blog.

  30. thenssthen says:

    These are some very positive words here. I really empathise with the idea of trying to save face, to avoid the criticism from others and, most often, from ourselves. But we must face these challenges. Thank you for this advice.

  31. DustySpider says:

    This is so spot on. If you’re showing up each and every day to do the work, if you’re fully involved with your craft, if you’re being authentic to your work, you’re already there!

    I am reminded of that famous Noel Coward quote: “Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?”

    Believe in yourself and keep on keeping on. Thanks for such an inspiring post.

  32. theginfox says:

    Great post and really inspiring for us creative types 😉 I personally have been amazed by the support from the wider craft community, I never thought when I started my blog and joined Twitter that people all over the world would offer advice and congratulations on my work!

  33. I just wonder whether people place ‘aspiring’ as they may not be confident in the audience reading or they are hoping for someone to say ‘hey you’ve made it’.
    Either way thank you as you have possibly encouraged lots of people to have faith in their abilities which is a great feeling to encourage.

  34. beckaaj says:

    Just what I needed to hear! Since I am young, I automatically consider myself as lower-quality or less deserving than those established, and I often categorize myself as “aspiring” as well. But this made me ask myself, why? I write, don’t I? So how then does that make me “aspiring”?

    Thanks 🙂

  35. Dena says:

    You are absolutely correct about people selling themselves short in many areas. If you write or create anything for yourself, true to yourself then you are a writer, an artist, etc. If you are producing stuff to please others, to meet other people’s expectations or with the intention of becoming famous or making money self deprecation in some cases is warranted.

  36. inspired1016 says:

    I love your style of writing. It captured me and although I already agree with you and try to get people to see what you have spoken about, I myself am guilty of being my own enemy. I have a blog- I even have a Facebook page for it, yet I havnt told enough people about it and don’t want to boast it. I think I am also afraid to put it as a status on my fb because what I write is so personal. If anyone has advice to help push me I’d love it!!

  37. Leah says:

    I wish I’d read this months ago when I was berating myself for publishing a book and wasn’t quite sure if it was good enough to be out in the world! You have a beautiful way with words.

  38. itunu says:

    In light of what was written in this BRILLIANT and inspiring post I want to say name is Itunu, I’m 17 and I AM A WRITER. I want to change the world with my words and I’m just looking for a platform to do so.

    Check out my blog and make sure you follow 🙂

    P.S. Thank you Chris Nicholas for being so inspiring!!!

  39. Thanks for the follow Chris! Man, this post was good.

    I know in a logical way that I’m not alone with my doubts, but this made me ‘feel’ less alone which is a bit more powerful, I think.

    Now you’ve made me feel like a rockstar, I’m going to go live up to my goals 😉 Happy creating!

    — Claire

  40. prospermind says:

    Dear Chris,

    THANK YOU for finding me, allowing me to find you, too.
    Great post! Motivating, encouraging, assuring, confirming, awakening. Just great.
    Be well. 🙂

  41. Haha! Well said, Chris. I spent a lot of years saying that I was trying to be something, as if there is a singular title that neatly makes me an official writer, poet, painter, lyricist, photographer, antagonizer or whatever the hell I felt like being. Say it and you are it. Do it and you are it. Live it and you are it. Show it and you are it. I am comfortable in my gifts now. I find that it’s a fast way to find people you want to spend time with when you say, “I’m a writer.”- and either hear ,”That’s very cool!”, or “I’ve never heard of you so you can’t be making any money.” It’s a litmus test that lets me weed out the negative influences in my life. And I wrote that bitch into a story. I’m a writer and she’s a cynic. We are what we do. Thanks for the reminder. ☆

  42. John Wade says:

    A lovely post Chris. I think I’ll be coming back here again!

  43. John says:

    I always put “fledgling” because I feel as though to remove such an adjective would be presumptuous. Unless if I reach some small level of success, I don’t think I’ll have the confidence to omit it.

  44. rozlin says:

    Made me pause for thought. I am an English teacher. I am paid to do that job and when asked I say “I am a teacher.’ Yet I have been writing much longer than I have been teaching, and I write nearly every day. It isn’t necessarily writing for myself but I didn’t consider the models and examples I write for my students as enough of a reason to call myself a writer. I did a writing degree, I have a portfolio of printed articles from my younger years, yet I don’t call myself a writer.
    Maybe now I have my blog, which strangers are following, I can finally bring myself to say “I am a writer’…maybe?

  45. Mike Osorio says:

    Well-written post and a great challenge for anyone in “aspiration” mode. Thanks for liking one of my posts and i am proud to be a writer inspiring people around the world with my thoughts and musings. Congrats on your successes so far and for the many more to come!

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