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Fear of Success/Fear of Failure? Repost from Blogger

There are very few blogs I read, mainly because it's another excuse to procrastinate, but Murder She Writes is one of them. The link is for a post written by guest blogger and reviewer Andrea Sisco, author of A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery. In her post Andrea writes:

"What if I'm an utter failure? Or, what if I'm a success and then people actually expect something from me and expect that something (a book) every year?"

This my friends is what we call a Fear of success/fear of failure.

After the life I've lived, not much scares me anymore, but that above is it in a nutshell. What if my work becomes a big hit? What if my work tanks and the reviews are so scathing I'll have to change my name and have plastic surgery? (okay, the plastic surgery could be a good thing)

I've written two books and a novella in the last six years, only the latter of which has sold (the novels are still on slush piles so to speak). For nearly four years I've been working on my third novel, House of Cards. Why is it taking me so long to write this book? Again...fear!

Way back when, my former agent read the first hundred pages and said, "Finish this! It's going to be your breakout novel!" (great....no pressure there) Immediately my subconscious kicked in said what if she's right? Now you're going to have to make the follow-up even better. You can't do it!

Needless to say I let that fear stop me and the book hit an iron wall covered in six inches of concrete. Yep, I wrote 1/3 of the book and it stopped. Dead in its tracks.

I told myself to just give up on the book that it ain't gonna happen (especially after my agent dumped me---so much for believing in me). But, try as I might, I can't give up on the book. Every time I do, new scenes pop into my head, which tells me the story wants to be told. But, am I the best person to tell it? (insecure much?)

Doubt comes second nature to a writer; we all feel it no matter how many books we publish.

I posed this question, the one about Am I the best person to tell the story--not the insecure question-- to another writer Robert Gregory Browne and his answer was "why not?" Okay, his answer was more detailed than that but I forget what it was.

The point he wanted to drive home (with a hammer no less cuz I'm a bit thick in the head) is, unless you're writing a non-fiction book, you don't need to be an expert in the subject you're writing...especially if you're writing about murder...that would be bad. heh Anyway, research is key in writing fiction and as long as you can Google or have a library card, you're going to find what you need to give your book the realism you're hoping for and give the reader that suspension of disbelief.

Is there a key to overcoming the doubts and fears that have you afraid to sit butt in chair and type? Not likely, but commiserating with other writers--either online or face to face helps at least quell some of the doubt so you can continue to write that breakout novel.

I'll let you know how that works out.

So, tell me, have you let fear stop you from reaching your goals/dreams? And what do you do to keep the fear from disabling you?

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my only fear

Thanks for your post! I'd say my only fear is actually not getting to finish something that I started. Unfinished work leaves me feeling unsatisfied and incomplete. It's like having half a baby crawling around your house and tripping you up every time you try and do something else. Finish what you start, always, and let the readers and critics decide for themselves whether it's good or bad. I don't try and write well, I just try and write. Every day. Until what I'm working on is finished. Sometimes, if I feel tired, I'll write something else to give me a break, or read a bit, or go for a walk in the park, or a swim, or... Whatever I do, the writing always comes first in my life!

Finish that break-out novel, not because it's good, but because you're good! Go for it!

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Thanks for your post,Terri. I don't know anybody who doesn't suffer to some degree from the fear you have described. Naming it and sharing it certainly seems like a first step, and you have done that. I have  discovered that moments of 'failure' in my life have actually been quite liberating, showing me that the "f word" is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. And the moments of success, well, they are fleeting, and then you have to just 'keep at it.' Are you the right person to tell the story? Absolutely. It's your story.

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Thank you for reading

Thank you for reading Quenntis and for the support. Yes, the fear of not finishing something holds me back as well, because, like you, I prefer to finish what I started and I have a need to be the best at it...hence why it's taking me forever to complete the book. ;-)

Best of luck to you.

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Hi Lisa, Thank you for

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for reading and sharing your insight. They say the first step is admittance. heh

One of the things I've heard often since I started writing is in order to be a writer you have to write. In head my that meant, you have to write a book, but in reality it means you just have to write whatever is in your head because then you're getting words on paper. (another wise tidbit from Robert). Writing this (and other) blogs helps keep my mind focused on words and keeps me plugging away at the story even if it isn't working. That, as you say, is very liberating. (and this is may be a blog for another day.)

Thanks again. Have a great week!