Fighting the fear of failure; or ‘stop titting about…….’

I have been a little quiet on this blog of late. I think a combination of life ‘stuff’ has meant my concentration levels are low, inspiration hard to find and that dreaded monster self-doubt whispers in my ear ‘you have nothing of interest to say…’

Alternatively you could say I have been , in the words my sister and daughter often use to describe me, ‘titting about’. Procrastinating. Finding a million and one reasons not to sit my bottom on the chair and WRITE.

Over the past week though, as I celebrated the first birthday of a new decade, I have been encouraged by people who seem to know about these things to look again at the structure (or rather lack of same) in my days and re-evaluate my ‘life plan’ (ugh..). I usually recoil at the mere suggestion that I should be other than a bohemian free-thinker that writes only as the muse strikes, but I suspect I cling to that ‘identity’ only to avoid the moment when a decision has to be taken. Is this good enough to pitch to publishers? Should I self-publish? What if nobody wants to read it? What if those who try ask for their money back in disgust? It is, purely and simply, fear. Fear of failure. Being exposed as some kind of fraud. How dare I consider myself a writer. What a bloody nerve!

I know there are so many people who follow my blog, even if only occasionally, who feel a similar terror at the idea of putting their work ‘out there’. One of my ‘most-read’ blogs of the past few weeks has been ‘When I have fears…’ – John Keats on self-doubt and comments highlighted how even the most famous writers still tremble as they make the final edits and hand the precious manuscript over for publication. I suppose it is the same physical and mental process that athletes or actors go through – it is only when you cease to feel nervous that you should worry. It means you don’t care enough anymore…..

So I am addressing these fears. One step at a time. I am looking back to 2010 and 2011 and noting that the number of articles I’ve had published each year has increased. The number of people reading my blog has gone up significantly and I have lots of wonderful followers on twitter. As you read this and empathise (perhaps) go back over your recent achievements and take heart. It is likely your body of work is greater, your word count larger or your poems sharper. It might be a slow process but we are getting there.

In the language of psychotherapy ‘validation’ and ‘affirmation’ are vital to shore up a writer’s fragile ego. Ironically very little of it is available to an author who won’t take risks and share their work for fear of criticism or failure. So I have made a resolution to replace all those I have broken in the first five weeks of 2012. It is an all-encompassing one with little room for get-out clauses.

I will take the opportunities, face my fears and risk failure.

(This does not apply to bungee jumping, abseiling,  pot-holing or the chance to run a marathon where my certain failure risks a fatality. Just thought I should mention that…)

So for all those out there who might just be reading this and thinking ‘hmmm I know what she means…’ I include the following, oft-quoted poem by the prolific ‘Author Unknown’.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool;
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental;
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feeling is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and your dreams
before the crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure.

But risk must be taken,
because the greatest hazard in life
is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing and is nothing;
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they simply cannot learn,
feel change, grow, love, Live
Chained by their certitude, they are a slave,
they have forfeited freedom;
Only the person who risks is free.

 Author Unknown 

It is true. In order to  learn/feel change, grow, love and then want to write about it we have to take a chance. Look at all those self-publishing on Kindle; some of it wouldn’t have got past a half decent editor but a lot of it is great storytelling or niche work that big publishers just don’t take a chance on anymore. What an opportunity!

So no more titting about. I don’t need to make that tea/clean the oven/pluck my eyebrows/have another game of Bejewelled Blitz. I have to practice, get it wrong, try again, and maybe get it right after the fourth or fifth attempt.

As A. Unknown says; I will  place my ideas and my dreams before the crowd and risk their loss. Wish me luck…

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8 Responses to Fighting the fear of failure; or ‘stop titting about…….’

  1. Rivenrod says:

    GO FOR IT! In capitals because I’m shouting. Here in my shed no-one can hear (except scary cats) but it makes the thought skim out of me much quicker and fly over the hills to Wellington.

    Stop pratting about and get on with it. Have a cup of tea first though, to steady the nerves, always best . . .

    RR

  2. ‘you have nothing of interest to say…’ You’re kidding me right? :-o

    Your blog is one of my favourites Suzie, you write with warmth, wit and the ability to lead the reader into the topic. I understand that as writers we all have small seeds of doubt from time to time but please banish any thoughts you have of not having anything of interest to say!

  3. Jane says:

    clean the oven ….lols!

  4. Viv says:

    Good luck. With you all the way, with any help or encouragement you might want, dear.
    xxx

  5. rinsimpson says:

    Fantastic, go for it! This is exactly why I set up The Steady Table (can I plug? Twitter: @TheSteadyTable – thank you!), because it means that every Tuesday night I HAVE to sit down and write creatively, whether I want to or not, whether it’s easy or not, whether I think what I’m doing is any good or not. And so far, in two weeks, I have produced a flash fiction piece I am very proud of (and submitted it to a competition) and am 1300 words into a short story which, although I’m agonising about it at the moment, is at the very least good practice and hopefully will lead to bigger and better things. Keep going Suzie, you’re getting there!

  6. Rebecca Emin says:

    “Titting around.” That’s the best laugh I’ve had so far today but I can relate.
    It’s really scary putting your work out there, but it’s part of the whole process.
    I’ve written that as much for myself as for you; we’re all in the same boat!

  7. Well I’ve just found you so I’ll come back and see if you have your mojo back!

  8. amanda says:

    Don’t forget the visuals.
    We also procrastinate who only paint and collage.

    I mean, I LOVE what I do – so how come I said to myself only yesterday morning what the ******* am I am doing doing out the kitchen cupboard for pete’s sake.

    And can we add in the female factor here too, the guilt trip about selfish self indulgence – I bet Keats didn’t suffer from that one.
    Wouldn’t mind betting Brawne knew all about it though.

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