For many writers, as their project gets closer to completion, fear starts to set in. Instead of getting excited or motivated, they become anxious and procrastinate. It is confusing! This novel or screenplay is your ambition, your dream even…so why all the negative feelings?
I call this vulnerable state the Fear of Writing Success because it gets stronger as you near your goal. It is filled with “what if” messages and negative self-talk.
Here are some common thoughts writers have when they feel the fear of writing success:
“I really don’t think this script/manuscript is ready. How do I know its ready?”
“I am the worst writer. My writing sucks.”
“No one wants another story about a young girl discovering who she really is at summer camp, I should stop now.”
If you are experiencing “monkey mind” and these thoughts are circling within your head and at the same time you STOP writing for a while – whether that’s a day, week or month – then you know you have a fear of success.
What to do about it when you are feeling the fear of writing success
First, stop the monkey mind right then. Just stop and breathe. Go out in nature, listen to some favorite music, watch a video – do something to readjust your crazy-way-of-thinking and then get back on track and focus on the reality of your writing.
Know that writers often do not know when their work is ready. That is why editors and professional critique services exist.
Every writer thinks their work sucks – you’re not alone it this, this is normal, so keep writing. And never think that your subject matter will not appeal to someone – it will.
The fear of writing success has killed many careers – don’t give in to it – keep writing, keep working towards getting your material out into the world.
This is the time when I remind myself that I am so thankful that Robert Pirsig continued to send out that giant manuscript (via mimeographed paper in the early 70s) to hundreds of publishers over and over again no matter how many times he questioned his writing or received rejections. If he hadn’t done that I would not have known one my most influential books that changed my life, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I am so happy Mr. Pirsig did not have fear of success!
We all have one. What favorite writer of yours are you so grateful didn’t give up?
Don’t have fear of success – think of all the readers who would be disappointed if you do not write what you need to write today!