By Jennifer Blanchard
Does the thought of not being good enough make you want to puke? Does it cause you to freak out and worry constantly?
Well then, fellow writer, you are experiencing a very common fear of procrastinators: the fear of not being good enough.
So what exactly is a fear of not being good enough?
“This fear is one of comparison, competition,” according to the blog post, Basic Fear #2: Not Being Good Enough. “We tend to judge ourselves against another standard.This standard is often a comparison between what we ‘know’ about ourselves and what we ‘believe’ about the other.In other words, we end up comparing all the negative stuff we think true about ourselves to the positive image others portray to us (and we portray to them).We end up seeing ‘the yuck’ of our own lives, but fail to see it in the other.”
Here are some common signs that the fear of not being good enough is present:
- You always compare yourself to others
- You think everyone is better at XYZ than you are
- You are judgmental of everyone around you because of your own insecurities
- You lack self esteem
- You doubt your writing abilities
- You always try to be perfect–in every situation and circumstance
- You berate yourself for not being perfect
- You’re a perfectionist
If you recognize yourself in the list above, you may have a fear of not being good enough.
Although the fear of not being good enough manifests in hundreds of ways–avoiding writing, never submitting your writing, etc–deep down, the fear of not being good enough comes from one thing: lack of confidence.
When you lack confidence, you always feel like no matter what you do, it will never compare to what other people can do; you always feel like you won’t be successful because you don’t have the ability to be.
But when you believe in yourself–and believe in your writing–the world is your oyster (as they say). You can do anything. You can be anything. You can achieve anything. There is nothing outside your reach.
- Believe in yourself—If you’re ever going to become confident and make your fear of not being good enough disappear, you have to believe in yourself. You are your own worst enemy, which also means you can become your own best friend. It’s all a matter of how you think.
- Know that you are good enough—Confidence starts with knowing what you’re good at and using it to your advantage. Make a list of all the things you’re good at, whether that be writing, playing video games or grilling a mean steak. When you reflect on the things that you are already good at, it helps get you in a more positive state-of-mind, which can then help boost your confidence enough to try something new (like writing).
- Use your fear as fuel—The only way to get better at something is to do it repeatedly. So instead of allowing your fear of not being good enough to hold you back, use it as fuel to grow and become a stronger writer. The more you know about something, the more confident you become. So by using your fear as fuel to learn more about writing or to attempt writing more often will make you more confident overall.
- Ask for help—There’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re not 100 percent confident in your writing ability, ask someone to help you out by reading and critiquing one of your stories or join a creative writing class and sharpen your writing skills.
- Accept that you don’t need to know everything to write—This is definitely a thought that most writers toy with at least once in their careers: Do I know enough to write this book/article/whitepaper/etc? I think Bill O’Hanlon, author of Write is a Verb, hit the nail on the head when he mentioned in the recent interview I did with him that he wouldn’t have written a single book if he had to know everything about the subject before writing. Writing is a journey. You’ll never know everything immediately, and the best way to learn is by doing.
- Give up trying to be perfect—You are not perfect. I am not perfect. James Joyce was not perfect. Stephen King is not perfect. Your favorite authors are not perfect. Are you starting to see a pattern? Perfection is an idea, but not a reality. It is impossible to be perfect. Imperfection is what makes us human. So rather than trying to be perfect all the time, revel in being able to just be who you are. When you take on that mind-set and let your need to be perfect go out the window, something amazing happens. You fall in love with who you are and what makes you unique and different—flaws and all. (It’s also important to note that perfection is boring. No one wants to read about a perfect character with a perfect life and perfect job and perfect family…ugh! It’s so boring! The same goes for real life.)
- Stop beating yourself up—You are a good writer. You are learning as you go. You are becoming better every single day. So stop beating yourself up! And remember, “Nothing great is created suddenly,” (a quote from Epictetus).