“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose
the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
— William Shakespeare
Procrastination is an obstacle writers must learn to overcome at some point along their writing journey. But what lies at the root of procrastination? Often it is fear–either fear of failing or fear of succeeding. Let’s talk first about the fear of failure.
As in any profession — even life in general — fear of failure can be detrimental, even paralyzing. Many people never achieve their dreams because they’re afraid to take the risks necessary to accomplish them.
If you’re a writer, you must approach the fear of failure practically, and ask yourself, “If I don’t succeed, what’s the worst that can happen?” Usually that answer will include retruning to your day-job full-time or finding another career, and only writing as a hobby. But…what if you do succeed?
The benefits of being successful will, no doubt, far outweigh the effort and risks involved. Keeping your “eye on the prize” should provide enough motivation to keep you writing.
But, if not, take the following steps:
1. Write down everything you can think of as to why you’re afraid of failing.
2. Now, think of ways you can minimize your risk involved for each thing you just wrote. What are some practical steps you can take to minimize your risks? This may involve tightening your budget or setting aside some extra money for those rainy days. Or, maybe you can minimize your risks by investing in your writing career with classes or by attending conferences.
3. Next, develop a step-by-step plan of action along with specific and measurable goals for your writing. Where do you want to be in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? And, how do you plan to get there?
Having a vision and a blueprint for developing your vision will go a long way to help you minimize your risks, and therefore, conquer your fears. Sometimes, the big picture is just too overwhelming to consider all at once. So break that picture up into smaller frames, tackling them a little at a time.
Take baby steps of faith, one day at a time. Before you know it, you will be well down the path to becoming a successful writer.
Next time, we’ll look at mastering the fear of success.