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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #381

The Fear of the Unknown

I was thinking, the other day, about something I was told many years ago, a “condition” one mentor said I was afflicted by. Mind you, I no longer am, but it truly did perfectly describe me during my younger years, which were years often hampered by a fear of the unknown and a lack of confidence in myself. The mentor told me that I suffered from “Paralysis by Analysis,” meaning I would think a problem or new situation to death, constantly thinking about all of the things that could go wrong, or wanting to be so perfect that I never actually got around to doing the thing in the first place.

What got me thinking about it was a comment a friend made to me, something to the effect that she wanted to write a memoir, but she was afraid it would appear to be self-serving, or people wouldn’t like it, or she didn’t have the talent necessary to do it properly.

If any of that sounds familiar to any of you, I refer you to the famous Nike ad:

Just Do It!

Life is too damn short to deprive yourself of life-experiences which may turn out to be beneficial, self-gratifying, or even profitable.

Just do it!

Now, let’s just do it with the Mailbag.

The Mailroom

The Mailroom

More on Voice

From Linda: “As for finding a voice; I think I tend to be too loosy-goosey with my writing (see, I did it again). I write the way I talk. For fiction that works, but for non-fiction, perhaps being flippant means that I'm not taken seriously. A penny for your thoughts.”

Only a penny for my professional and personal thoughts, Linda? I thought they were worth at the very least a nickel. Sheez, devaluation is going to kill us all, you know?

Here is a penny worth of my thoughts: I think you write just fine. I love your food articles, and I love them precisely because you speak my common language. It’s like two old friends, sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, talking about favorite recipes. It’s comfortable, you know?

I see no problem with writing that way, even if it is non-fiction. Your personality shines through with your writing voice, and it is a personality which puts the reader at ease. I just wish more non-fiction writers would take your lead and allow a little more of themselves to shine through their words.

I read a how-to article about car repair the other day. This guy had his own website, and his blog was highly-entertaining. He wrote all loosey-goosey (how is that really spelled, by the way), to borrow your phrase, and he had one hell of a sense of humor, and I was not only informed but also entertained, and that kind of article is much-preferable to stodgy and boring.

Keep it up, please!

Write in a voice people can relate to, fiction or nonfiction

Write in a voice people can relate to, fiction or nonfiction

A Share About Commenting and Being Active on Hp

From Lori: “Hi Bill, I don't have a question, just a share. You opened your most recent mailbag talking about the covid life we've been living and how it has hampered your writing, in how much you write. I have had this same issue and I know of at least one other. I am sure it is true for many. I believe your facebook friend is right. It's just the overall stress of life in this time. I have only written one or two, maybe three Hubpages articles in the last year and a half and I write on my book sporadically. One hubber friend got COVID and had some other issues in life and has not been able to write a word. He is a passionate writer. I will say one other thing that has hindered me on Hubpages is the limitations of commenting. I can never get to your articles fast enough to comment and I am lucky to get one or two on my own work. I feel disconnected. Community is what it's all about for me on Hubpages. Yes, I love to write and read others work, but not being able to communicate in the manner we were accustomed to for so many years has taken the joy out of it for me. And I find those videos on our articles terribly annoying. I have found other things in my life during this time to keep me going, things that have become dear to me. It is meeting with a small group of friends every week. We read the bible together, pray together, and talk and talk. We meet outside and are careful but we need each other. Someone mentioned writer's block. It's never been worse than now for many.

“God bless everyone of us. Find personal connections in a way that makes you feel safe, get outside and enjoy fresh air (accept in the torrential rains the Pacific Northwest has been having), harvest apples and pears, plant bulbs, take your dog on walks. Love you all, and take care. We are not alone.”

Thank you, Lori, for your thoughts, and best wishes on your new journey. I hope you return to us, but I understand if you don’t.

There are so many old-timers, people who were here when I first started out, who have gone on with their lives and left HP, and for the most part they left because they were not happy with the HP format. That’s sad! This once felt like a community. The staff at HP was invested in it, they were personable and helpful, and writers loved being here. I do not get that sense any longer, and I miss those writers who moved on.

Scroll to Continue

Making Money on Hp

From Claudia: “I’m new to HubPages. I’m curious, and a bit skeptical. Is it really possible to make money writing on HP? If so, how do you do it?”

Well, Claudia, first of all, welcome to HP. Instead of some auto-reply from HP, welcoming you to this community, I am a real-life person, a writer like you, and I am very happy you are among us.

Secondly yes, it is possible to make money on HP, so tuck that skepticism away. To HP’s credit, they do not advertise that you will make a great amount of money; they simply say “earn all sorts of rewards,” and technically that is true. It will take you months, and in some cases a year or more, to see your first payout, but it is possible to make money. I actually know some writers who make hundreds of dollars each month, and have been doing so on HP for years, but I believe them to be the exception to the rule.

And, thirdly, how do you do it? Write! Write often! Follow the HP guidelines on how to write featured articles. Learn the fine art of linking. Learn as much as you can about SEO and Google.

And then say a quiet prayer!

What, me worry??? Not likely!

What, me worry??? Not likely!

Live Like You Were Dying

I love that song by Tim McGraw! One of my all-time favorite country-western songs. The message is right on. We get what, seventy, eighty years to experience all that life has to offer. For those of you who are young, trust me, those years blow by in the proverbial blink of an eye. If fear is holding you back from doing something, figure out how to eliminate fear from your life, because you are cheating yourself. Easier said than done, for sure, but dammit, you’re running out of time.

Live like you were dying because, guess what, you are!

Questions for the Mailbag? Leave them in the comments below, or email them to me at

Thanks a bunch, and enjoy the hell out of this week.

2021 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2021:

I'm there with you, Jo. The 2021 version of Bill is all right. I can live with it. Life is good!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on October 18, 2021:

I think I still suffer from 'Paralysis by Analysis', Bill. I agonize over decisions way too much. May be too late to change much now. Just accept myself the way I am and laugh about it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2021:

All is well here in Olympia, PS. It's good to hear from you. I hope you and that wonderful family of yours is fighting the good fight; I'm sure you are. Be well, my friend. Angels coming your way with blessings.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 07, 2021:

Hi, Bill....voice is an interesting part of our writing. I find when I have read enough of someone's work that I recognize the writing before seeing the name because of the voice. And for me that is a a good makes me feel comfortable. If that makes sense. Hope all is good with you and yours in Washington ...Angels headed that way this evening ps

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2021:

I'm with you on that one, Mel. The hours fly by and I find myself at the end of each day wondering why I didn't finish my to-do list. Maybe I just have too many projects. lol Thanks buddy!

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 07, 2021:

Beautiful wise words. I cannot build on your moving sermon about the necessity to eliminate fear as an anti-motivating force. As far as Covid, I can't blame that for my dearth of activity here. I blame the fact that there are just not enough hours in a day. Great work.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

It is very nice interacting with you as well, MG. It's so nice to meet people from other cultures and learn about them. The friendships are a huge bonus here on HP.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

It is sad, Nithya, but it is the way it is, and we aren't going to change it. I'm just happy I have so many good online friends, like you. You all bring me joy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Heidi, you're tardy??? It's Wednesday and here I finally am. lol We both have the same excuse, and as soon as I figure out what that excuse is, I'll share it with you. lol Happy Wednesday my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

I'm a storyteller at heart, Linda, so I'm happy you enjoy the other information as well as the questions. Thank you for your friendship.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Welcome back, Devika! I hope your holiday in SA was restful and enjoyable.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

It does indeed, Flourish, and all the complaining I might do won't change anything here on HP. I have resigned myself to that fact. Now I just write, comment where I can, and get on with life. Thanks a bunch!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Bill, I do remember you as one of the first "friends" I made here on HP. A decade? Doesn't seem possible, does it? And yet here we both are, still cranking out articles and still friends. Pretty cool!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Thank you, Maria! Happy Wednesday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Aww, thanks, Greg! I love this community of writers. You are all my extended family, and I appreciate you all very, very much.

Stay dry on the bike rides, buddy, and Happy Wednesday to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Thank you Denise! No, there is no sense in fighting the changes with HP. They are going to do what they are going to do, and our opinions mean very little. But it is a good place to publish for free, so I am grateful for that.

Blessings always to you and yours

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Thank you for your kind words, Peggy! I appreciate them very much. I just try to help others when I can. That doesn't seem like a big deal to me, and I'm sure it isn't for you as well.

Happy Wednesday to you, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Brenda, I can't listen to that song without crying. For some reason it has always touched me deeply.

Blessings to you as well, my friend. Happy Hump Day to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2021:

Happy Wednesday, Misbah! I'm sorry I'm so late in responding. Too much to do and too little time, I'm afraid. I hope this finds you well, and I hope you realize how much I appreciate you. Blessings always!

MG Singh from UAE on October 06, 2021:

As usual, you have written a wonderful article; The important point is that it covers a lot of points with fear and paralysis intertwined. The fear factor is important and it can lead to paralysis of the mind. a numb feeling that just envelopes you. It's great interacting with you through HubPages, I hope the site does not fold up like so many marquee sites.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 05, 2021:

Another great edition of the Writer's Mailbag Installment. It is sad that commenting is no longer as before and as you say we can make money but it takes a long time. I enjoy reading your articles and articles of many other HubPage members. So I log on to HubPages and it keeps me writing.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 05, 2021:

Tardy Tuesday. Again. Oh well.

Re: Overthinking. I think the terms we now use for "paralysis of analysis" is overthinking. Others have called it catastrophic thinking. Guilty, no matter what you call it.

Well, off to just do it for this week. Make it a great one!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 05, 2021:

MizB, that's the first time someone has given thanks for flash flooding. lol I know what you meant. Rain here a couple days, then glorious, crisp sunshine, then more rain, that's how the rest of this winter will proceed, me thinks. But hey, I'm wrong more often than I'm right, so there you go. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 05, 2021:

Liz, thank you for your thoughts. Carpe Diem for sure; I'm afraid I don't always live by that, but the majority of the time I do, so that will have to be good enough. Happy Tuesday, my friend, and thanks again.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 05, 2021:

Alyssa, Happy Tuesday! Formal writing turns me off within two pages. I was not meant to read textbooks, I'm afraid. :) Have fun with the Halloween season, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 05, 2021:

Thank you Rosina, for your thoughts. Maybe I should have concentrated more on making money in the early days of my career. Perhaps I'd be rich by now. lol Not likely!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 05, 2021:

I like the fact that you share other information in addition to answering the questions that readers submit. I understand what is meant by “Paralysis by Analysis.” It’s an interesting phenomenon!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 05, 2021:

Hi Bill you always make us see the world from all sides and your mailbags are informative and worth waiting for. I was away for 2 months on holiday in SA and back since 5 days. I have lots to catch up on here.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 04, 2021:

They’ve made a mess of the commenting and taken some of the social part out of this social media platform with the comment changes as well as other modifications. Time marches on.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 04, 2021:

Nice mailbag, Bill. I can’t believe that I am coming up on 10 years here on HubPages. A lot of people have come and gone. You were one of the first that I connected with and here we are 10 years later, pretty amazing.

I do try to live like I’m dying because, well, I am, we all are. But, I also have a lot of living to do and I plan on squeezing every last ounce out of this life. Have a great week.

Maria Logan Montgomery from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

HI, Bill -- everyone has already said what I would have said, so I'll simply say, "Great mailbag!"

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 04, 2021:

Bill - another great edition of the mailbag with great answers to great questions. Also, the commentary about living life in a way that leaves nothing on the table is a great piece of advice. I am saddened by the way the community piece of this took a southerly turn myself. When I first joined, it was pretty exciting to be on here every day and join in the conversations at the bottom of all folks’ articles. I’ve suffered from the analysis paralysis myself in the past and am not sure that’s what the writing ennui is these days for me. Anyway, Ms. Dora nailed it. It’s easy to comment on the mailbag each week because there are so many people participating...I don’t have to hunt and peck through the feed to find a way to get into an article’s back door to make a comment. With the mailbag, it’s just here, front and center. I think that’s probably testament to what you bring to the community. Thanks for doing that, and hope you get to continue doing it for many a day.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 04, 2021:

This is a bit of a sad tint to this mailbag. Not morbid but sad. My mom suffered a small stroke this week and although she seems to have recovered quickly, I see the handwriting on the wall. I know time is precious and I should stop dinking around and call her more often if not go see her. How much longer are any of us going to be here?

I remember joining HP and feeling like the new kid on the block behind all the seasoned professionals. Now that I've been here a while and have seen people come and go, I guess I'm one of the seasoned fogies. I don't like the changes but I don't fight it. I know what I like or don't like makes no difference to those who run the show. So I've learned to accept what I can't change and hope to keep the ever-narrowing circle/community of writers going, for whatever that's worth.

Great answers and great songs.



Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 04, 2021:

I agree with others who said you are like the glue of this community of writers. We can always look forward to your new pieces each Monday.

It is sad what has happened to the comments. It is hit or miss on getting to make comments on those writers we follow. At one point they said that comments would once again be opened. What happened to that idea? Was it an empty promise?

I enjoyed that song at the end. The clock is ticking for all of us! Enjoy your week and pet those pups!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 04, 2021:


I love your answer to Linda.

Just be yourself and let your own words shine.

I'm touched that you remembered that song, "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw.

It is so true. We need to live each moment.

If we let fear guide our life, we won't ever know our potential.

So just do it.

Great words on fear.

Have a great week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

John, I listened to that damned song yesterday and found myself crying. My God, music can really affect us. I guess I had some buried feelings that needed to surface.

Anyway, thanks for always being here. You are appreciated. Happy Monday to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

Oh, Linda, I feel for you. I hope we never undertake a major move like you are. I don't know if I'm up for it. But more power to you, and I hope it goes smoothly. Sending thoughts of encouragement, my friend. I'm looking forward to the pictures.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

Thank you very much, Pamela. I appreciate your friendship. Since you are the New All-Around Hubber this year, I think you are the new glue of our community.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

Thank you Chitrangada Sharan. It gives me pleasure knowing many of you look for the Mailbag every Monday morning. It's nice to be part of your routine, and I appreciate it very much. Have a fantastic week!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

Mr. Happy, 17 miles in six hours? Holy cow! I don't think I could do that; no, strike that, I know I couldn't do it. Let's see, I do two miles in an hour with the dogs each day; that would be over eight hours at that pace, and I don't think I could do a faster pace unless I was being chased by a killer or something. lol

Have a great week, my friend. I always enjoy your comments.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2021:

That is very lovely of you to say, Dora! Thank you very much for those kind words, and may God bless you as well.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on October 04, 2021:

Happy Monday, Mr.Bill. I enjoyed reading your mailbag as always. I especially enjoyed your response to Linda and Claudia. Interesting questions and wise answers. I liked your thought about fear in the end of the mailbag. "If fear is holding you back from doing something, figure out how to eliminate fear from your life, because you are cheating yourself." So wise and true words. Thank you for sharing wisdom and for encouraging. Keeps smiling and stay safe!

Sending Blessings to you and your family!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 04, 2021:

Loved your mailbag today, Bill. I think our friend Linda's writing is great because she has found her voice and is using it very well. I agree that loosey-goosey writing can be informative as well as entertaining. The only places where it wouldn't be appropriate are in academic or some historic articles because it could trivialize the subject matter there. Except if you are writing about folks like Buffalo Bill or Calamity Jane, I'd make an exception.

Lori had some good thoughts, and so did you. Paralysis by analysis? I sometimes still get afflicted by that. But that's when my mind runs 90 miles a minute. I just have to stop and turn it off.

Meanwhile, let's just stop and enjoy this wonderful fall weather. The sky opened up and gave us some much-needed rain recently, accompanied by flash flooding. Have a good rest of the week, my friend.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 04, 2021:

I really appreciate your upbeat and encouraging opening this week. Your comments about personalized writing styles are thought-provoking and make a lot of sense. I agree with the points made about HP. Things have changed a lot since I started l just a few years ago. A tip for accessing comments boxes is to check your HP feed. Often, if you are following someone who publishes a new article you should get a notification on your feed with an opportunity to post a comment. It took me several years to reach payout and progress is slow to the second one. My take on time is that it goes quicker as I get older. So Carpe diem, seize the day. I hope you have a good week, Bill.

Alyssa from Ohio on October 04, 2021:

Another fantastic mailbag Bill! What an interesting diagnosis. I agree, don't let fear hold you back. I also love your response about voice. Formal writing can be tedious to read. I enjoy when writer's infuse their pieces with personality. On that note, I hope you have a wonderful week! Happy October!

Rosina S Khan on October 04, 2021:

I agree with you, Bill that loosey-goosey way of writing is perfect for fiction or nonfiction. You really can earn popularity writing that way.

Yes, I think living like we were dying is the best way of living as we will push ourselves to do as much as we can for the day and appreciate life on overall.

Great mailbag and interesting too, as always. Happy Monday and a great start to the week.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2021:

It is good to catch a Mailbag early and not have to scour the feed to comment. Linda’s question about voice was interesting. What I love about reading articles on HubPages is that almost everyone I follow has a distinctive written voice. After awhile you get to recognise their writing without even seeing the name of who wrote it. I rarely read any food related articles, except Linda’s. Her voice is so engaging and she even makes foods I would not like sound edible.

I think I sometimes suffer “Paralysis by Analysis” but not as badly as I used to. Great term!

That is the second time I have heard that Tim McGraw song this week. I get the feeling there is a message in there I need to heed. Have a great week, Bill.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 04, 2021:

Good morning Bill. Thank you for your kind words--I didn't know you'd put our "conversation" in your Mailbag, but I hope our exchange encourages other writers to be more natural in their writing.

I'm sorry that Lori is having such a struggle with HP. She's not alone. I wonder if the powers that be at HP/Maven/whatever-they-are-now really get it?

A small Mailbag today, but I can't think of a better way to begin the week. You have a higher priority than the newspaper.

Today is moving day #1 (we can't put all our furniture in one U-Haul, so this will be a multi-day process). WIsh us luck. I'll send you pictures of our new place.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 04, 2021:

Happy Monday, Bill!

I have suffered from “Paralysis by Analysis” at times, but fortuhately not lately. I love to reaad Linda's articles. She has a good sense of humor, and I agree her personality show through.

I have been here a long timer, and I have seen many leave. I don't know how anyone is making hundreds of dollars unless they are posting articles every day.

I agree with Dora, you are the glue. God bless!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 04, 2021:

Hello Bill!

Thank you for sharing another useful mailbag, which has become a habit for many of us. I hope HP listens to the writers, who make HubPages, what it is today. Completely relate with Lori’s words. I am not even getting email notifications these days. But, I know it’s Monday, and was just waiting for the mailbag. Thankfully, I am able to find it.

Liked the phrase, ‘Paralysis by Analysis.’

Thank you for sharing. Have a great week ahead!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on October 04, 2021:

“Paralysis by Analysis" - There's got to be a balance between "Just do it" and overthinking. I honestly find that too many people do not think enough of the consequences of their actions further down the road, like years down the road.

I do think analytically. So, things get broken down to the brick. If we do not look at every brick in a wall, we will not know how solid that wall is. One brick off a dam and the whole thing comes crashing down. So, I like to check every brick, every word, every comma; perhaps twice. It's always good to double-check.

"I thought they were worth at the very least a nickel." - More than a nickel too. Gotta take into account inflation. Haha!!

"I just wish more non-fiction writers would take your lead and allow a little more of themselves to shine through their words." - I am totally for that! I mean, I think I do not hold back in this area. If one cannot tell my writing after reading a bunch of articles of mine then, they got problems. Haha!!

"A Share About Commenting and Being Active on Hp" - Things change and we must adapt. "Must" is the @#%$ing word! Or, we go extinct like the dinosaurs. I am more thinking of climate change but website changes too, I suppose. : )

"Making Money on Hp" - Well, I am happy that those who wish to make some money here can make it. I am not interested in writing for money. I do not wish for anyone to ever say that what I wrote I did so because I wished to get paid. I write for the sake of the words I am writing and never with any other Intent.

"Live Like You Were Dying" - I totally do. I hiked over 17 miles in six hours each day, two days in a row, with the second day all throughout rain. by the end of the six hour hike two days ago, there was not an inch on me that was dry. I couldn't tell if the drops racing down my face were water, or sweat. Haha!! Yes: "live like You were dying" because we are. : )


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 04, 2021:

Bill, you're like the glue holding parts of this hub community together. You inform, you inspire, you push. God bless you!

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