This Writer's Life · Up Close & Personal · Writing

The Fear of Failure.

Before I begin with this post, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Here’s hoping it will turn out to be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all of us!

Recently I read a blog post by Kristen Lamb on the 5 Areas We Need Permission for Success. One of those was to allow ourselves the permission to fail. This is a big one as I believe that for me at least, this one area works like a domino affect as it creates all the others that she mentions.

Being the youngest of three daughters, I was labelled ‘different’ from an early age. I was imaginative, observant and a bit of a loner. The quiet one, or ‘shy’ as some would call it. My mother would call me ‘different’ as if it was a bad thing (yeah, still does). It’s as if there is something wrong with me. I always had the feeling that I didn’t quite fit in because I’d be compared to my sisters. When I started high school, teachers also started comparing me to my elder sisters, but it didn’t last long; I was ‘different’. There was always a level of high expectation. If I didn’t meet them, I was a ‘failure’, causing low self-esteem. I was afraid to try new things.

This fear of failure has resulted in being a perfectionist. I grew up with the belief that everything had to be perfect the first time around. It has become ingrained. During my University studies I would stall at starting any assignments which were all essays. The thought of writing something made me anxious, but I had a deadline to meet and once I began writing, I was fine. It’s the same these days when it comes to writing, only I don’t have any deadlines. Right now, I’m doing this for me. Perfectionism is the worst form of procrastination there is as I use different things to distract me; go on social media, play on the ipad, listen to podcasts, watch Netflix (yeah, I think you get the picture). I fail to try because I don’t want to fail.

The thing is though failure can be good for us. We learn what our strengths and weaknesses are. We learn through our mistakes and in order to make ourselves better, we work on them. We put in the hard yards until we are satisfied with the results. There can be times when mistakes can even take us down paths we never would have tried otherwise. Without making the effort to try, we’ll never know what we are capable of. We may live the rest of our lives with regrets.

I believe that I will be taking the path to self-publishing. That now is my biggest challenge. In all honesty just the very thought of it frightens the living daylights out of me. It is revealing myself to the world, revealing what has been private for so many years. Just writing this post is a frightening prospect, but this is why blogging has been such an enormous help. If I fail, then at least I know I’ve tried. And that’s all anyone can really ask for.

Are you afraid of failure? Has the thought of failure made you a perfectionist? Do you plan to step out of your comfort zone and do something different in 2018?

Side Note: Just a reminder that in 2018, I’ll be spending less time on social media and more time writing. I will continue to blog, although there may be times when my posts may become somewhat erratic, but it’s all in a good cause, so stick with me (pretty please). 😉

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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11 thoughts on “The Fear of Failure.

  1. I’ve been stalled for months on my book mostly for external reasons that I didn’t plan for (interviews taking a long time to arrange and come in, a near fiasco regarding who might own the rights to this project before I’d even written it, etc.) and now that those hurdles are all cleared, I’m trying to conquer one more: getting excited about writing this book again. I wrote 750 words today, which is okay, not great, but okay. I’ll get there. http://www.raimeygallant.com

    1. Hi Raimey. Well done on making progress with your novel! I’m in a similar situation. One of my novels requires extensive re-writes and today I’ve just completed the first chapter. Small progress is still progress, right? Best of luck with your novel. 🙂

  2. “The hardest part is just before you begin” or something like that — Stephen King wrote it in his memoir “On Writing”. Whenever I get stuck — usually my goblins insisting on perfection — I just remember that a first draft just needs to exist and that once I start writing, it will get easier. Breaking a project down into small parts also helps: “now this part is perfect!”. Good luck with your writing and publishing goals — I know you can do it 🙂

    1. Thanks for the good wishes Ronel! After a few efforts at doing NaNoWriMo, I know that I work better when I have a deadline to meet. Since then I tend to use a timer whenever I write something new as it really helps to force those words out. My problem now is when it comes to re-writing as it feels like pulling teeth. To start the new year off, I’m doing re-writes for one of my novels and today completed one chapter, so I agree that breaking a project down into small parts really helps. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great post. As a teacher, I am always trying to get my students to see the value in moments of failure. Thankfully, our administration is of the same mind. We all grow and develop from moments of failure. At least, we have the potential to do so. If we spend our lives worrying that we might fail, we’ll probably never succeed at much. In failure lie the seeds of discovery. Happy writing to you. Also, happy 2018! 🙂

    1. Hi Kathy and Happy New Year! It’s good to hear that you and your administration agree that in order to grow there needs to be an element of failure. There is a lot of emphasis on rewarding success, not that that is a bad thing, I just think there just needs to be some sort of balance. I’d like to see more kids being rewarded for trying as this would give them the confidence to keep persevering, which is far more satisfying. Thanks for stopping by and best wishes for 2018. 🙂

    1. Hi Anna and Happy New Year! Failure in submissions is unfortunately part of the process of being a creative, which is one of the reasons why writing is not for everyone. I’m glad you turn it into a positive though because as writers, we do this because we enjoy it. Even if we are rejected, as least we can say we have a finished product in our hands. 🙂

  4. I’m willing to bet that most of us writers were considered different. I know I was. *shrugs* But moving on, I used to be afraid to put down a wrong word, which really held me back from writing. Because, you know, the need to be perfect and everything. But someone told me to lower my standards. And it worked! You can’t edit a blank page, and editing is where the real perfection comes from.

    Happy Writing!

    1. Hi Gwen. I agree that the editing is where the real perfection comes from. It’s going to be quite a learning curve, but I’ll get there. After all, if we’re not learning, we’re not growing. 🙂

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