Reading the comments over the past few days, I realize that many writers share a common malady: fear of failure.
Lee Warren, D.D. writes ” The most powerful forces known to man are not nuclear weapons, nor nature’s awesome wonders, such as the might of an earthquake, the power of the sun, or mastery of a hurricane, but the thoughts and ideas of the mind. ”
If the thoughts of the mind are fear driven, the power of the thoughts can be negative. For example, professional sports teams pay psychological specialists to work with athletes who are choking in the game because of fear.
Performance anxiety is common across a multitude of professions. Singers and stage actors often describe “butterflies” before a performance. However, when the fear grows, it becomes stage fright. It can stop the presentation in its tracks.
Writers fear reader rejection or critical censure. Self-doubt stymies creative process. A manuscript collects dust because the author is afraid to finish it. Fear incapacitates.
Buckminster Fuller wrote, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience. Humans learn through mistakes.”
It is possible to move past fear. It helps to put fear in perspective. Try saying these positive statements out loud to yourself:
- I know that everyone feels fear of failing from time to time. I can learn to control my fear.
- Failing at something doesn’t make me a failure. I learn from my mistakes. Learning from mistakes is the sign of a successful person.
- I am courageous for expressing myself.
- I am entitled to my opinion.
- If what I tried the first time didn’t work, I can fix it. Or I can try something different.
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” –Robert Allen
Feedback is non-threatening. It helps us key in on how well we are communicating. It is the gauge of how we are doing in our growth process as writers.
When my daughter was a teenager, she talked about her career dreams. As is typical of a child’s mind, she believed she would start out at the CEO level of performance. I explained that life is a learning curve. We have to start somewhere and then work our way up through skill development, practice and perseverance. We have to pay our dues.
As authors, we have to start somewhere. We write. We let others read it. We listen to the feedback from critical readers. We take the information provided to hone our skills. We dare and extend ourselves to practice, practice, practice. We write something. We let others read it. And the circle goes round and round. Eventually, we get more positive feedback than we did before. We keep pushing forward, paying our dues.
That’s the way it gets done. One written page at a time.