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Do You Fear Failure?

By Jennifer Blanchard

Last week’s post discussed fear of success. Fear of success’ evil twin sister is fear of failure.

So what exactly is a fear of failure?

A fear of failure is often the most paralyzing of the four main things procrastinators fear. It causes people to avoid the things they want to do because they are afraid they will fail.

A procrastinator’s fear of failure can sometimes be so strong that they may even subconsciously undermine themselves so they don’t have to attempt something (or continue attempting it).

Oddly enough, by not attempting something (or attempting, but giving up quickly), you are essentially bringing about that which you’ve been fearing: failure.

So what causes procrastinators to fear failing?

“Often, this phobia is linked with early life causes, like demeaning parents or siblings, or traumatic events where a major embarrassment was the result of some minor failure,” according to the article, Fear of Failure, on way2hope.org.

Fear of failure can build up over a lifetime, getting progressively more paralyzing as the years go on–unless you do something about it.

Do You Fear Failure?
Although fear of failure may come from not having the skills or knowledge to do something, most of the time the fear is in your mind.

Here are some common signs that you fear failure:

  • You avoid doing something if you know you won’t be able to do it well immediately.
  • You don’t set goals; if you don’t set goals, you can’t fail.
  • You procrastinate on the things you really want to do because you don’t believe you can do it.
  • You live well below your potential (and know it).
  • You never step outside your comfort zone.
  • Your life is mediocre; it could be better, but why fix something that’s not broken?
  • You only attempt things you know you’ll be good at.
  • You sabotage yourself by procrastinating.
  • Any time you want to attempt something new, you first play the scenario out in your mind. If you see your attempt ending in failure, criticism or ridicule, you don’t attempt it.
  • You give up on things easily.
  • You worry about being judged for not being able to do something well/perfect.

For more information on the causes of fear of failure, read:

The idea of failing can be scary, there’s no doubt. But isn’t the idea of never reaching your writing dreams scarier?

Action Steps:

  • Accept Your Fear–This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Failure in life is inevitable. It’s not possible for you to be amazing at something immediately. It’s not possible for you to achieve everything you want to achieve immediately. It takes time. It takes work.Once you can finally accept that failure is just a part of life, you’ll be able to turn your failure into amazing writing opportunities.
  • Act–Since fear of failure immobilizes you, in order to overcome it, you need to take action. Go after your dreams; finally sit down and write that short story; finally submit your poem to a literary magazine; do something!Action gives you the ability to change the circumstances that hold you back.
  • Keep At It–Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you they didn’t succeed after their first attempt. Hell, they might not have succeeded after their hundredth attempt! The point is, if you give up, failure is inevitable. But if you keep on trying, you’ll eventually get there.Whenever you feel yourself letting your fear of failure get the best of you, just ask yourself, “What would I attempt if I knew I couldn’t fail?”
  • Treat Every Failure as a Learning Opportunity–Being successful in writing is all about learning what doesn’t work for you. Once you know what doesn’t work (from having failed a couple times), you can improve on the circumstance and eventually find what does work.
  • Keep Believing–This is one of the most important things you can do for your writing career: Believe in yourself! Know that you can do this. Know that you will do this. Know that there’s no one better for the job than you.And no matter what, don’t let rejection kill your confidence.

Do You Fear Success?

By Jennifer Blanchard

The Things Procrastinators Fear post from last week discussed the 4 main things procrastinating writers fear:

  • success
  • failure
  • rejection
  • not being good enough

So why do people fear success?

“Many people fear success because it tests their limits and makes them vulnerable to new situations,” says Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, in the article How Fear of Success Works. “Even worse, success can easily expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their flaws.”

Another major problem is the fact that success equals change.

“It [success] can be intimidating and hard to handle,” she says. “With success comes challenges and responsibilities–and that can be threatening.”

Other times, people fear success because they don’t want the recognition or honor. (This falls along the lines of people who don’t like receiving compliments. They are fearful of acknowledging they have good in them or that they look nice or that they did a great job because they often don’t feel that way about themselves.)

This is the same with writers. Writers often fear success because the think they might not be able to sustain the success or that they don’t want the recognition or spotlight that comes with being a successful writer.

Here are signs you fear success:

  • You procrastinate–You want to write, but you’re too busy. Or too tired. Or have too much work to do. Or need to make dinner. Or will write in five minutes when your favorite TV show is over. No matter how much you want to write, you just can’t seem to sit down and do it.
  • You have a negative outlook on your writing–Always talking badly about yourself regarding your writing (this sounds something like, “Why should I write? No one will ever publish it,” or “Writing is a waste of my time because there’s too much competition”). You don’t believe in yourself or your writing dreams. You don’t think you can do it.
  • You talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk–You’re always talking about your writing dreams and how you want to be a writer for a living. You tell people about all the stories you want to write, all the ideas for novels you have written in your notebook. But then you never write. You do everything BUT write.

If you see these signs in yourself, you may have a fear of success. For more information or to see other examples of what fear of success looks like, read:

Success can be overwhelming. It can cause things to change. But it can also be fun and joyful and your dreams coming true.

Remember what FEAR stands for–False Expectations Appearing Real. Writers fear success because it’s unknown. There’s no way to plan for it; no way to predict it; no way to know how things will end up.

That’s the beauty in it though.

When you learn to release the grasp that fear has on you and actually sit down and get some writing done, you’ll start to realize that being successful doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be pretty awesome.

Action Steps:

  • Believe in yourself and your writing. No matter what. Try coming up with a mantra or affirmation about your writing that you can say to yourself whenever you need a confidence boost. For example, an affirmation could be, “I am a great writer,” or “I am a successful writer.”
  • Know that you can continue to learn anything you need to know to keep being a successful writer. Education isn’t going anywhere. There will always be colleges, online courses, writing teachers, information websites and blogs dedicated to helping you stay current in the world of writing.

The Things Procrastinators Fear

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear, according to Dictionary.com, is: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”

Fear can be real OR imagined. When it comes to the things that procrastinating writers fear, it’s imagined.

In fact, someone once said FEAR stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real.

So why, if procrastinators’ fears are false, do they still hold them back?

Because procrastinators truly believe the fear is real.

Procrastinators fear many things, but there are 4 that really stand out as the main fears that feed all the rest:

Now you may have read the above and felt a little angered. You don’t procrastinate because you fear success (or failure or rejection or not being good enough)! You procrastinate because you “don’t have time to write” or because you “are so tired from working all day you just can’t write.”

I’m here to be a little in-your-face and say that those excuses (not having time, being too tired, etc) are just that–excuses. And behind those excuses is a little 4-letter word: Fear.

To better explain it, read this awesome Copyblogger post called, “The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You From Writing.”

The good news about all this is everyone has fear inside them; and there’s something you can do about it!

Over the next 4 Tuesdays, I’m going to bring you in-depth posts on fear–covering the 4 main things writers fears (mentioned above), and giving tips on how to write despite your fears.

For now, use the Copyblogger post as a way to begin gauging your fears. Next time you avoid writing, take a second to think about the real reason behind why you didn’t write–fear.

What are your writing fears? Which of the 4 main fears most stops you from getting your writing done?

How To Overcome Writing Rejection

By Jennifer Blanchard

Rejection is a part of life. And one place you’re almost guaranteed to run into rejection is when you’re trying to get your writing published.

Rejection.

Yes, I said it.

And if you’re planning on making a career in writing and publishing, you better plan on facing the facts: Your writing will be rejected (Note: I said your writing would be rejected, not you. You are fabulous!). Every writer experiences rejection. It’s the nature of the business.

Here’s how to overcome writing rejection:

  1. Retain Absolute Faith–Step one to putting your writing out there is you have to believe in yourself and your writing. (And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be putting your work out there until you do.) Believing is 90 percent of being successful.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts–You got rejected, that’s it. That doesn’t mean anything. You are still a good writer. Your writing is still worthy of being sent to magazines and publishers.
  • Act!–Keep trying. Keep sending your work out. Keep writing.

As Thomas Jefferson said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

So, Procrastinating Writers…how do you deal with writing rejection?