How I felt writing my first essay for Patreon

planning for the writing week

Last week I pressed send on my very first essay for my patrons through the site Patreon.

This is a site that allows patrons, people who really enjoy your work, to pay a small amount for more of your content. And on my Patreon I have committed to writing 3000 word essays about online creativity for people who pay one dollar per essay.

I announced this project on September 8th 2018 by writing a blog post about why I’m creating a Patreon account.

I didn’t expect anyone to pledge money. But I did. I gained patrons. So I set about writing my essay.

It took me eight weeks. I vlogged about my progress or lack of progress and started to annoy myself. Yet during October I barely did any work on the essay. Yes there was half term and my son was away in Asia sending me in a bit of a spin…but there were a number of reasons for not sitting down and just getting on with it:

  1. Self doubt. The classic. Here I was attempting to write an essay about my new found creative confidence and, suddenly, I was doubting myself again. So I found excuses. I concentrated on my other projects. An essay, chosen as a project to do because it was shorter than a novel, suddenly felt too long, too large a task, at three thousand words.

  2. Then there was another feeling. A new feeling. A feeling of being exposed. ‘You’re asking people to buy your work?’ I could hear mocking me in my head. I’ve been so used to writing my blog and sending it out for free with no issues - because knowing its free takes that pressure off. As soon as money comes into the equation there’s that extra pressure I put onto myself. And is why I stopped pitching magazines. (What if they accept my pitch and commission me!!)

  3. Then, finally, I lost interest in the project. Which is probably just another way of saying I was scared. (My interest is back now!)

Which all makes me sound like a bit of a scaredy cat.

I’ve done so many new projects lately that I needed to be brave for - so I was not going to let a confidence crisis make me procrastinate on the essay writing. So, as I’ve already documented in this plan with me post, I decided enough was enough, gave myself a mental shake and started to break my bigger projects (my essay and novel) into smaller, more manageable tasks.

And you know what? In just a few days after undertaking this exercise I had finished the essay. It’s like I’d emptied my head of all the planning stuff that now I had space for the creative.

I got a rush of excitement the minute I stopped typing and realised I had a fully formed essay. Yes it needed editing but I had fifteen pages, or three thousand words, of coherent text. Euphoria.

The next day, after editing it again and again, it was ready to be sent to my patrons. The vlog on the right shows how I felt the day I sent it out to these lovely people. Panicked, pleased, a feeling of achievement and panic some more.

And now, a week later, the panic has resided a little but the feeling of achievement is still there. For a long time I’d felt that I was never going to see a project through - but this time I have.

Now, on to essay number two.

An excerpt from essay number one

How keeping chickens gave me creative confidence.

Helen Redfern

From The Confident Creative

How is it that some people have amazing creative confidence online? And by confidence I don’t mean they’re swaggering about saying ‘yeah, didn’t you know I’m *like* a brilliant writer’. I mean those people whose ambition and drive is just that little bit stronger or braver than their doubts. Stronger than the devil on their shoulder murmuring repeatedly into their ear that their work is rubbish. A joke. That’s not to say that powerful, intimidating voice isn’t there. It has just been muted. 

I started writing online in a novel writing group some eleven years ago. My online writing ‘career’ (if you can call it that, I only managed to start calling it that a few months ago – not long after, incidentally, I started calling myself a writer, but that’s another story) began as I filled in the details on the Blogger website and called my first blog Redders’ Ramblings (after checking repeatedly that I’d put the apostrophe in the right place.) 

Eleven years of blogging on and off. (Mainly ‘on’.) Yet it took me ten of those years before I threw off the shackles of doubt. I mean, they’re only there lying at my feet ready to be pulled on again but they’re off for now. Why now? Could it be my age? Could it be that I’ve been doing this for over a decade and have become fed up with myself? 

Or could I have gained confidence from something else seemingly unrelated? Like keeping chickens, for example.

I set my blog up to become part of a community. I didn’t realise at this time that it had the potential to lead to something else. Who did?

I certainly wasn’t going to get a publishing contract by writing pithy prose such as:

Now I need to get back to my novel to get that 1000 words done then I can reward myself with a drink and maybe a few grapes’

Yes, that was really part of my very first blog post on Monday, January 22nd 2007. I like to think my writing has changed a bit since then. 

But it appears some people knew there were possibilities in this online world. Or at least, some people had the bravery to do something different with their blogs. We had the anonymous call girl who wrote about her sexually adventurous activities with clients. This led to a publishing contract and later a TV series. Then there was another who specifically set up her blog to teach herself how to cook, Julia Child style. This also led to a publishing contract and a movie made by the late Nora Ephron.

In the online writing group I was part of one of the writers published, on her blog, the first chapter of her book. This was talent-spotted, as it could be a decade ago when there was less noise online, by a publisher who went on to give her a publishing contract.

A number of the writers from my writing group went on to gain publishing contracts. Then there were other writers and bloggers I got to know through Twitter. How is it that one blogger I knew had the drive, not only to finish a novel BUT to also work out all the technical details on how to self-publish (back in the days when there weren’t countless courses and YouTube videos on how to do it). Then to work out a marketing strategy that meant their novel went onto the Amazon bestseller lists and ultimately, the big prize, she was picked up by a traditional publisher.


I look back at the last eleven years of my writing ‘career’ (there I am putting it in quotation marks again) and wonder how far I could have got if I had that same creative confidence. The confidence that I have now. But didn’t have then. Because now the market is more saturated. Now the internet has changed and we have people who have made videos about their Primark hauls becoming authors. Somewhere along the line I missed a massive trick because of my fear. And I am kicking myself for it.

So – why?

To read more you might like to sign up to become a Patron.

If you’d like to become a patron I have a number of tiers. All tiers (starting at $1) receive the essay. But there is also the opportunity to email or chat with me about blogging, online creativity, YouTube, Patreon, Instagram - anything related to your online creativity that you’d like help with.

This video on the left if the process I went through to really identify each task needed to get my essay completed. Simple but effective.