5 Ways to Overcome Fear of Success for Writers

These tips for overcoming fear of success for writers are a follow up to my article called Signs of Self-Sabotage in the Writing Life. There, I describe what being afraid of succeeding looks like for some aspiring and established writers….and here I share ways to overcome fear of success.

“You just have to work with what God sends, and if God doesn’t seem to understand the concept of commercial success, then that’s your bad luck.” ~ H L Mencken.

That’s a great way to overcome your fears of writing and getting published! Work with what you have – whatever God or the Universe sends – and flow with whatever happens next. Put your fears, anxieties, and “what ifs” aside, and live it out.

Here’s a book that a fellow writer recommended, about overcoming fear of success The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

And, here are a few ways to cope with self-sabotage for writers and bloggers…

5 Ways to Overcome Fear of Success for Writers

Writers may never get over the fear of success or fear of failure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t progress towards our writing goals! These tips won’t make fears disappear…but they can help writers write and bloggers blog…and maybe even get happily published…

1. Accept your fear. Be scared. Are you afraid of sending article pitches to editors, asking agents to represent you, writing sample chapters that may never be read, or otherwise sharing your writing dreams? Don’t fight it, fellow scribes. Accept it. We’re all scared – even the most successful writers. Read Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers (one of my favorites!). Make that phrase your motto. Simply feeling the fear and forging ahead anyway can help you cope with fear of success.

2. Figure out why you’re sabotaging your writing goals. You don’t have to see a psychologist to figure out why you fear success (though I admit I’m a big fan of counseling!). To get to the bottom of it, talk to people you trust, write in your journal, and be as honest and objective as possible. What are you afraid to admit? What do you know, that you aren’t allowing yourself to know? What’s holding you back? You don’t even have to go further than that.

Just allowing your fears and anxieties to permeate your consciousness can free you to be more creative, more productive.

3. Accept failure as part of succeeding. “It’s a common assumption that if you really try your hardest to get something and don’t get it, you’ll be shattered – so it’s safer not to risk going out at all,” says Barbara Sher in Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want (another of my favorites books). “That is totally false. The exact opposite is true.”

If you try and fail to get published, you won’t feel as bad as you think. You’ll gain experience, education, contacts, and self-confidence as a writer. Failure makes you smarter, stronger, more savvy, and more likely to succeed (if, of course, you don’t give up).

4. View your writing and editing skills as changeable. Research from the University of Toronto shows that if you think your professional skills and abilities are fixed, then you’ll become anxious if you’re successful. These psychologists found that people who think their capabilities are fixed get disoriented when they succeed, and their performance then spirals downward. To overcome fear of success as a writer or blogger, remind yourself that you will be a better writer in a year or two (or ten!) and you will be able to handle your success and your fears.

Remember: your writing and blogging skills are constantly improving – they’re not set in stone.

5. Compete against yourself – not other writers or bloggers. “Competition in which one person must lose in order for us to win tends to undermine the best in most of us,” writes Robert K. Cooper in The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life (another great book!) “It makes us wary and distrustful of others, causes us to withhold and distort information, makes us intolerable of uncertainty and change, and it so narrows our focus that constructive creativity is practically shut down.”

To overcome fear of success as a writer, don’t compete with other freelancers, bloggers, novelists, screenwriters, etc. Instead, compare your achievements and goals to where you were a year ago. Focus on your own progress, and celebrate the progress of others. 

Is there a part of you that is afraid to pitch editors of magazines, ask literary agents to represent you, or send your book manuscript to publishers?

Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published
Writer's Market 2020: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published - Yes, you CAN get published! It's not impossible - but only if you're willing to do the work. Writer's Market 2020 offers thousands of opportunities for writers, including listings for book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards and literary agents — and even new playwriting and screenwriting sections.

Are you afraid of failing…or of succeeding? I welcome your thoughts below…


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