Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fear of Failure

Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Do you fear failure? Does it keep you up at night? Does it cause your brow to furrow furiously? Whoa, trying saying that five times fast!! Does it cause you to twitch at odd moments? Does your mouth get all dry? Do you fear your brilliance will never shine forth? That you'll never write an acceptable query? That you'll never find an agent, an editor, a publisher, your space on the shelves at Borders?

Aren't we all plagued by similar fears? Do we give in to these fears or do we . . .

Now that I've spent the night thinking about it, I think that Robert's advice to me about being a book publisher really applies to anyone who wants to work in the industry in any capacity--but perhaps especially to writers. To sustain a state of high tension and desperation--you know, the kind the whole submission process usually creates--is not only physically exhausting, it's creatively exhausting. It also makes us less likely to make wise decisions when we're presented with opportunities. Paychecks aside--and let's face it, even the best-paid among us would-be publishing/published peeps don't make THAT much money--I think we survive by letting go of a fear of failure. Our desperation makes us lose sight of what we got into this for--in many cases, to write. Writing is the joy, and if you are joyful you have not failed. We should be happy when good things come about, but not live in fear that they won't.

The above comes from Moonrat's blog post yesterday, which Janet Reid directed me to here.

I don't think truer words (well, other than I'm writing the most brilliant novel ever) have ever been spoken.

We cannot let fear of failure rule our lives. We must plod ever forward, writing, writing, writing, editing, editing, editing, on to the next project, on to the next project, on to the next project, query, wait, query, wait, query, wait, play some Bejeweled Blitz, write, write, write . . . and so on. Yeah, fear of failure lurks in the back of my mind. It happens. But . . .

. . . well, read the italicized section above, especially the last line that I'm about to happily copy and paste . . .

We should be happy when good things come about, but not live in fear that they won't.

S

14 comments:

beth said...

That post Moonrat did so resonated with me. I'm not afraid of the cliched things like spiders, but I certainly fear failure. I think I'm a bit like Hermoine in that.

Scott said...

Beth - keep the spiders away from me!! I think we all, to some degree, fear failure. It's how we handle the fear that really matters the most. I like Moonrat's philosophy on handling the fear.

Angie Ledbetter said...

At my age, fear of living with regrets is a much stronger force than fear of success.

Davin Malasarn said...

This post had a strange effect on me. I realize that I don't fear failure. I feel like I'm making progress every day, and that's all I want usually. That's probably also a pessimistic attitude because I never have expected any large sales or anything. The one thing I do fear is time, though. My dream is to publish a handful of books at least, and I worry that I'll die before that happens.

Rebecca Knight said...

I loved that Moonrat post, too! I love your last line, Scott :). I think that sums it up perfectly.

Scott said...

Angie - at your age??? Seriously? You're not that much older than I am . . . and we're still in the prime of our lives! Regrets are a dime a dozen and not worth wasting our time on. We just need to live our lives for today, doing what we love to do . . . because you never know when you might get run over by a donut truck! Sorry, an old boss of mine always used to tell me that. It seemed appropriate here!

Davin - gee, talk about cheering us all up! ; ) I think each of us out here in the blogsphere have already accomplished a heck of a lot. We are writing (posts count), technically being published (well, at least in my opinion), and in many ways, we're already semi famous because we have 'followers'. So, as I see it, life is pretty good!

Rebecca - the last line was Moonrat's, but I love it all the same!

Robyn Campbell said...

I fear PITCHES! There I said it. It's out. Sheesh!

Other fears... like Davin time. The Rolling Stones sang about it and I wonder if I'll live LONG enough to see my stuff published. We shouldn't waste time on what could've been unless THE AGENT DOESN'T ASK TO SEE MY FULL AND IF SHE DOES ASK TO SEE IT, BUT THEN DOESN'T WANT TO REPRESENT ME. THEN ROBYN CRAWLS UNDER THE BED AND CRIES AND CRIES AND CRIES! Gee thanks for the CHEERFUL post which made me think of my huge fear. :0)

ElanaJ said...

I love your pink words. They are very true. Work hard, and don't give up, and don't fear. That's important.

Scott said...

Robyn - I'm totally with you on that, though I'm trying to overcome my fear of pitches and query letters. It's a slow process, but I'm getting there, and so will you, my friend.

Elana - I just try to impress you with every post I do. Glad the pink words worked. Now I have to come up with something better for the next post. : )

Robyn Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.J. Anderson said...

Thank you SO MUCH! I try to remind myself of this, but sometimes the stress gets to me and I start freaking out about failing. It's always nice to be reminded that the world isn't going to end if things don't go as I'd planned.

Lady Glamis said...

I agree. This is what I was trying to get at in my Perspective post the other day. All of the sudden I realized I have a real live to life, and I shouldn't waste half of it worrying about publication!

Thanks for sharing this. :)

Scott said...

BJ - you're welcome. I really think, try as we might not to let the fear of failure rule our lives, it has a sneaky way of doing so . . . no matter our defensive efforts. So, we need blog posts that deal with doubt, fear, and all the other negative jazzy parts of life, so that we can gain better perspective and stomp at the fear as if it were a nasty, eight legged spider. : )

Lady Glamis - you're welcome. Life is about balance, and when we lose that balance (e.g. spend too much time writing verus living,etc.) then things get all screwy. No matter what, we can't stop living, enjoying the smell of fresh brewed coffee first thing in the morning, the sounds of the chickadees as they flock to the bird feeders, or the simple joy of seeing a baby rabbit nibbling at the clover in the back yard. Perspective = balance!

Cammie said...

It's funny, b/c when I took a novel writing class over a year ago, the first thing everyone wanted to talk about was their fear of failure, not their novel ideas! I guess the fear just comes with the territory, but like you (and our instructor) said, you have to rise above it and keep pressing forward ...