The Writer's Guide to Agony and Defeat, #3.

You Become Paralyzed By The Fear Of Failure

You have a great idea for a book and you make the time to start in on it – and then you start thinking about what it would be like to fail. There are a thousand ways to fail! 

You imagine spending hours every day sitting at your desk, writing, writing, writing – and never writing anything decent enough to show to anyone. 

You imagine telling all your friends you’re writing a book – and then having to tell them that, no, you’re not; you couldn’t hack it. 

You imagine sending your work out to agents or editors and getting back an impersonal, thoughtless rejection. “We’re sorry, but your work doesn’t fit into our publishing plans at this time….” 

You imagine giving up work, pay and productivity to get this book done – and never earning a dime for your efforts. 

You imagine that you publish the book – and no one cares. It doesn’t make a single ripple in the pond of the world. You end up with boxes of the book in your garage, where they yellow and mold along with your old tax returns.

You imagine that you publish the book – and it’s raked over the coals on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and no one ever speaks of it again, although the fact of it sits there like an elephant in every room you enter.

You imagine your mother reading your book – and saying, “It was very interesting, Dear.” 

These images of failure become so vivid that they you can’t see be-yond them. You become unable to write. You become unable to move forward. You quit.

THE WAY FORWARD: 

Everyone is scared of failure. We live our whole lives trying to avoid failure, but to what end? None whatsoever. Stop thinking of fear as the enemy. Stop waiting for the fear to go away. Fear is an essential part of the process. If you’re not scared, you’re not likely to produce anything worthwhile.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an in-dicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Re-member one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
 ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art