The Writing and Cable Company Connection

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Every month when I open my cable bill, I seethe.

I pay for about two hundred channels, but I probably watch about ten of those channels. The problem for me is sports; I have to have those channels, mostly for football season. I know there are other options available now, but fear keeps me paying that always-increasing, monthly cable bill. Fear of making a mistake, of doing something wrong, of not really knowing what I’m doing and what if I miss my football games?

Fear can stall a writing career, too. Maybe it’s whether to try for an agent (or let go of an agent who’s not working out). It could be about pitching to big markets instead of staying safely in the smaller markets. It could even be as fundamental as finally putting work out there, of just screwing up the courage to submit.

But there are ways to get beyond that fear, and so I’ll share a few strategies that work for me, starting with doing your homework.

Who knew when you finally finished school that you’d be using that homework skill for the rest of your life? In whatever decisions that come along, researching first is empowering. When it comes to writing, we’re lucky. We have the Internet, and boy, that makes researching a lot easier!

Find out everything about the writing challenge you’re tackling. Track down every snippet of information you can find whether it be a market, a literary agency, a publisher, or editor. Not in a creepy stalker way, just in a general information-available-to-everyone way. Knowledge is the first step in conquering a fear, and so the more you know, the more emboldened you will be!

And that leads me to the next step in information-gathering: ask people in the know. Take the cable question. Lots of people that are, say, millennial types, do not pay for cable. They use all kinds of streaming services. They’re the ones I’ll talk to before I make any changes.

Look around to the people you know in the writing world, the groups you’re part of in social media or through writing organizations, or even your writing partners. Perhaps you follow lots of writing blogs; you can reach out to those writers, too. Chances are pretty good that a writer’s faced the same questions and challenges you’re facing; look for answers. You may not always get the help you’re looking for, but sometimes, you will!

And finally, consider timing. Weeks before the start of the college football season might not be the right time for me to switch from my huge cable company.

It’s the same for you in your writing career. What other major life changes do you have going on, and is this the right time to pile on something huge and/or new? Because what if you do your homework, ask around, conquer your fear and go for it—and find success at last? You want to be ready one hundred percent!

Or you’ll end up with another fear, the one about failure. And that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer.  When she's not cheering for her favorite teams, she's busy working on her next book. Her latest release is Great Leaders of the World, from Darakwon Publishing in South Korea. (Read all about it here!)


Sioux Roslawski said...


I'm afraid of different things. I'm afraid that I'll make a mistake and I'll end up paying for something that includes football games. I do everything I can to MISS the football games. ;)

Yes, I am quite resistant to submitting to big markets, but right now, I'm happy doing what I'm doing.

Maybe at a later date I'll overcome my fear and take the plunge?

Charlotte Dixon said...

Those big decisions and small decisions can bug the life out of me. I do research and find solutions to my quandary, but some things hang in the wind for a while.

Debra Mayhew said...

First of all, I feel you cable pain! Only for me, it's the cell phone plan. I have constant sense I'm getting ripped off but it's safer to just stay with what I know. I love this excellent tie in to writing, and pretty much all of life in general. I'm trying hard to keep the fear at bay and go for my goals. Doing a little homework and having a great support group goes a LONG way to getting there! (And I'm sorry, but the thought of you taking on the cable company makes me smile. Even laugh a little. Though I truly do hope you find a happy solution soon!)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Sioux, I know you're happy--you're a very busy writer! And Charlotte, yes, sometimes you have to let a decision sit for a while. :-)

Now, Debra, clearly you did not read the post today at my own blog. I fought the cable company.

It did not go well. (If you smiled at this, you're gonna keel over laughing at that.)

Angela Mackintosh said...

YES! I love this post, Cathy. I think fear stalled my writing career for too long. Your strategies are great and I really like the one about asking people you know. I also believe in investing in people and working with people who can motivate you creatively--teachers, writing coaches--and participating in group feedback with fellow writers. It makes the whole publishing world feel less scary. :)

My cable bill is slightly ridiculous, too. We have ALL the movie channels and sports channels, even though my husband and I don't watch sports (my FIL does though), so I feel you!

Pat Wahler said...

It probably all boils down to habit - this is the way I've always done things, so I keep in the same comfortable rut. Your post entices me to try something new!


Linda O'Connell said...

Your post is spot on. Fear does keep us locked where we are. I finally submitted to the big names two weeks ago. All they can say is, "Oh, you poor dear, whatever made you think..." But then I will submit elsewhere. Rejections don't stop me; they make me say, "I'll show YOU!"

Mary Horner said...

I feel your pain. We finally did it and got rid of our cable due to rising costs, and one benefit is that I have been writing more! I still suffer from withdrawal symptoms due to lack of HGTV, but can go to my mom's to get my fix when I need it. And I can watch the big football games on network television, or go to a sports bar if necessary.

Unknown said...

Great insight on fear and daring, Cathy!! And timely, since I am currently in the throws of both considering leaving my agency and opening private practice! :-)
Side note: you know I am SO not a millennial, but I did brave and succeed in the removal of cable to streaming. Call me!! ;-)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well, Ang, I've read your writing and you have nothing to fear! Same goes for you, Linda, you fearless writer warrior!

I hope you try something new, Pat, and then tell me ALL about it!

Now, see, Mary, that's the thing. I want to watch all the games, all the time. I WANT IT ALL! (I just don't want to pay all that much...:-) )

And Melissa, happy considering (and P.S. I know you'll do a great job if you make that move!)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

This is a great post. I can't discuss the cable stuff because it's just too fresh for me. (I have a voodoo doll just for . . . well, never mind.) And yes, to everything you said regarding writing. Yes, yes, yes!

Renee Roberson said...

My bane of existence is our landline. We never use it and I hate answering it (so I don't). We even moved recently and I still haven't memorized our new home phone number! My husband is determined to keep it in case of emergency but I'm slowly wearing him down.

Fear has definitely stalled me and kept me from querying more than two or three agents with any of my projects. I'm working on tackling it!

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