In April 2016, I sat on the grey fabric sofa of our living room, my hands shaking. Boyfriend sat on the arm of the sofa beside me, waiting. I hit the ‘Submit for Pre-Order’ button on Amazon.

I’d never been more terrified.

Publishing my first book was everything I’d ever wanted. But, because I wanted it so badly, it terrified me, too.

That fear held me back for a long, long time.

But having people wanting to read my books—and having someone support me while I broke through that mental barrier—made a huge difference to me.

And now, almost three years later, I look back and marvel at how much I’ve changed since I hit that ‘Submit for Pre-Order’ button for the first time.

Some of the things I’ve learnt are small things that make a big difference.

Others are big things that, on the surface, make a small difference.

But they’ve all added up to turn me into a completely different person. A person that, for the most part, I’m proud of.

Here’s a look at how I’ve changed since publishing What Happens in New York, and how you can build those skills, too.

I’m more productive

I was never the most productive person in the world. I could write fast, but I seldom did.

Now, I’ve written a book on productivity.

I’m known at Nottingham Writers’ Studio as ‘the Queen of Productivity’.

But that only came about because I found something that I really, really wanted to do.

I wanted to do it more than anything else in the world.

I wanted it so badly that—even though I was terrified—I was prepared to fight through that fear.

My desire was stronger than my fear.

And desire is the root of productivity: when you find something you’re truly passionate about, something that you HAVE to do, you’ll fight for it.

You’ll find times to write in the weirdest of places, whether that’s waiting in a queue or sitting on the loo.

You’ll see writing opportunities everywhere.

I can’t sit still

The more I write, the more I want to write.

But there’s more to it than that.

I can no longer sit in front of a TV and watch a show. Binge watching is almost impossible for me because I start itching to write (or edit, which I used to hate).

If I go to visit my mum and nan, I can’t just sit and make small talk. I want to be out doing something with them, too. It’s an odd feeling.

I’m more driven and ambitious

I’ve never been more motivated in my life.

I’ve always been ambitious, but I’ve always been very tight-lipped about my goals.

Until now.

I tell a small circle of people what I’m planning, then I run headfirst towards whatever that goal is.

Ambitious female twenty-somethings don’t always go down well.

But I’ve never been much of a people pleaser.

I know what I want, and I have a rough plan of how to get there.

Why should I wait until my roots are turning grey to get started?

You can’t be shy when self-promoting

I’m going to be honest with you: I hate self-promotion.

It makes me very self-conscious.

But it’s the only way to get the word out about your books.

So I have to swallow my pride, connect with total strangers, and not be offended when I don’t hear back from them.

It’s tough.

But guest posting is one of the best ways to spread the word about your creations. It’s also a great form of networking. And once you get your foot in the door, it really does get easier.

(Speaking of which, I’m always on the look out for guest writers ?)

It IS possible to knock down the self-inflicted barriers of fear

I was afraid of a lot of things before I started this journey.

When you’ve never finished writing a book before, completing a manuscript is intimidating.

I had to fight through that fear—as well as the fear of my novel being out in the wider world—to achieve my dream.

And I’ve done it.

It wasn’t easy, but now that I’ve done it, the whole process is easier.

There are times when I wonder why I do this to myself.

But there’s still so much that I want to learn. I’m really just getting started.

The only person that can defeat your demons is you

I’ve got a lot of demons.

Some I’ve mentioned on this blog, others I haven’t.

But ultimately, the one thing to remember is that you are the only person who can defeat your demons.

You can rely on others to back you up, or to give you an ego boost, but they cannot fix your problems for you.

It isn’t their job to, and it’s incredibly draining on them if you expect them to. You don’t want to become a toxic friend.

If you’re in a really bad place, please, please speak to someone about getting therapy. It’s amazing how differently you can view things after having spoken to someone with an objective perspective.

Do whatever it is that you need to do to overcome your demons.

Because, once you’ve faced one of them, it’s a hell of a lot easier to face the rest.

How self-publishing my books has changed me

Over to You

What lessons have you learnt from journeys you’ve been on in your life? Share your stories in the comments below and let’s inspire each other ?