The Fear of Success

Today during the summit I was reminded of a time when I was afraid to write.

I was afraid I wasn’t a real writer.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough, that folks would be bored by my ideas.

I was afraid that some stories that I had to tell would be too controversial and then folks would want to discuss the story and where it was inspired from and I did not feel ready for that kind of intrusive reflection on my creative process.

I was afraid my mother, like Rachel Lynde in Anne of Green Gables, would see herself as the star of any book I wrote.

(Naturally I would have to debate this and her demands for more favorable changes to “her character” while never believing “It’s not about YOU, mom!” would become the elephant in the room at all family gathering to come.)

Lastly, I was afraid that I would write something beautiful and enchanting and folks would love it. Then what?

(as I had hints on feed back that this could be the actual case, that I could when I put my mind and effort into it, hold my own on the page)

Why be afraid of this, you may wonder?

It’s simple, because what if I could never do it again.

What if I could not find the magical incantation for the perfect words in the right order to cast a spell of a good story told, over the reader a second time or third, etc?

What if I wasn’t afraid? What could I accomplish then? And where did all of this fear come from anyway?
I was no coward in life. This was beneath me and my general belief system and yet I was paralyzed by it.

I have heard the same is true of others and their struggles to write, too.

After great consideration I believe it comes from the desire to cut close to the bone in one’s depth of story telling.

To want to convey the raw emotion of each character as truthfully as fiction can be told.

I know that often comes from the most vulnerable of places within the author, drawing upon what has touched one’s own heart.

Creative writing is its own passion.
To be passionate is to be wide open to the experience. We want so much for it to be only a good one.

The prospect of these ideas taking on a life of their own is scary.

It is as scary as having watched your child grow and now they are moving out in to the world for the first time on their own. A place with out your control.

The fear is real, the world can be a cruel place to adapt to and flourish in.

Then I realized I was throwing away my dreams to nurse my fears, and I was miserable over it.

“ Your fear is 100% dependent on YOU for its survival. ”

  • Steve Maraboli

The change happened in small epiphanies and connections I had made about “where was all this doom and gloom coming from?”, but mostly it happened when I made the commitment to myself to write no matter what comes of it.

Good or bad, I would live the adventure.

I hope anyone else out there struggling with imposter syndrome or any kind of self doubt knows that you are only one commitment to yourself away from writing the story that only you can tell. Remember you are safe and among friends here.

Have you ever felt this way and how have you worked to solve it?

Does being a part of a positive writing community feel like part of that solution?

Have you never felt this way? If so what’s your secret to such peace of mind and confidence?

Y’all have any favorite quotes for writing inspiration that you could share here?


What a brilliant quote from Steve Maraboli - thank you for sharing it :blush:

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“Ceremonially burning your rejection letters is satisfyingly cathartic.”


I need to create a ceremony for having the courage to send my stuff to those who will surely send those letters of rejection! :fearful: :blush:

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Just remember J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury saw sense.


And you always look so positive and confident from the outside. It just goes to show that we all have self-doubt about our writing prowess, or “what’s the point, who will ever read it”-type feelings, no matter how we present ourselves. Thanks for sharing yours, making us feel ourselves to be in good company.

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Agreed, but I’m going the way of a water burial. I’m thinking to read them in the “smallest room” in my house, and then “put them all behind me” (flussshhh)

It’s such an interesting thing that we humans do, we have no doubts the kid-next-door’s dream to swim for the Olympics is valid and completely possible.

We have no doubts of said kid being able to accomplish this with simply dedicating to practice, finding good coaching/management and not giving up. Each step in its own time along the journey.

BUT, you put a writer in a room with paper and pen and suddenly they feel it’s impossible to measure up and that breaks my heart to see. Even in me

If I can accept on faith success of someone who’s putting in the effort, well than why not me. I’m someone else’s kid-next-door.

So that’s what helps me through. Logically I know this about writing and all creative endevours really, but it sure feels like “I’ll never make the cut” four sentances in to my writing every time :wink:

Somedays I am one self pep talk away from forgetting my dreams. Due to ridiculous doubts really, but they sure don’t feel any less real in the moment of onset.

I know most artists are very in tune and sensative souls. They have often been steered away from art of any kind in favor of “practical careers” by the parents/mentors in their lives.

Basically seeding the idea that there is no way said artistic soul is talented or intelligent enough to carve out a life they love to live, in their chosen discipline.

Like a pre-emptive strike against eminent failure is implied.

I know something of that sort has played into many artists not following their passion and burdened them with a life long, underlying sense of unworthiness.

Especially as it pertains to achieving one’s goals.

I was affected in life this way throughout my childhood. Tons of practical advice.

I call it the right advice in the wrong environment.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t malicious, it just didn’t apply.

So that is kind of where my positivity (and self doubt) stems from. I just choose to make the positive the loudest voice in my head, and share that with the world as best I can.

You are so right @Kas. We’re all battling some thing.


Actually DeAnna, I want to give your last post many “hearts”, but it only allows for the one.


Updated to add link for Part 3

Been meaning to sit down and reply to this for some time, so here we go. :smiley:

I started a blog (still grimacing at that word, btw :P) late last year about fanfiction and its relationship to the writing community as a whole as well as other constructive aspects of the medium. I did a mini-series on writing fears, and the 3rd installment just posted this morning. It addresses, Imposter Syndrome.

The first installment of the series discusses fear of the blank page. Part two discusses fear of a misstep. I’ll give a summary (okay, “summary” might be used pretty loosely here) of how fanfiction helped alleviate Imposter Syndrome for me:

  1. It made research fun.
  • Instead of dreading my lack of knowledge/experience regarding an element of my piece, I looked forward to finding out more because I was invested in the people involved.
  • With that foundational connection to the characters in place, Imposter Syndrome had no means of scaring me off, because I cared more about them than my own fear.
  1. It gave me someone to share the experience with.
  • We all like to do things with other people (at least once in a while), and going through things we’ve never experienced before is one instance where most of us want company. Fanfiction provided me with a host of characters with varied life experiences, beliefs, cultures, and geographical locations.
  • While writing any given fanfiction installment, when I wasn’t sure how experiencing something specific might feel or effect someone, chances were I already had a basis for comparison.
  • This sense of companionship has carried over to original fiction, and even when I’m writing about something I’ve never experienced before, I never feel alone, so Imposter Syndrome is too intimidated by my company to intrude.
  1. It gave me new perspective regarding others’ struggles
  • I’ve seen instances in fiction where serious topics are framed with such vulgarity it makes me sick. Fanfiction afforded me a starting point in my writing journey that wasn’t based on politics, or fantastic environments, or spectacular action scenes. It was based on people I’d come to care about.
  • Armed with empathy, I set out to portray others’ difficulties in a respectful light, not minimizing their experiences or the emotional/mental/spiritual impact they’d had on each individual involved, regardless of whether I agreed with their choices.
  • Because I seek out meaningful engagement with the characters involved, Imposter Syndrome has no power. No, I can’t understand exactly how someone with differing life experience feels about something I’ve never been through, but I can sit down and listen to what that person has to say.

So, what can Imposter Syndrome say to that?

Absolutely nothing.