Thursday, March 28, 2013

Feel Like a Failure? Or just Afraid? This is For You...

Does the fear of failure have you in its grip?

- Do you sit at the keyboard (or page) determined to write, yet equally convinced your words are worth less than the empty coffeecup next to you?

- Have you finished a manuscript, yet find yourself paralyzed when it comes to querying?  "I'll just read it throught one more time..."

- Do you attend a writer's group and engage in passionate conversation about other people's books, but figure you'll let them read yours next week... or maybe next month....

- Do you read all the industry blogs, enamoured by other authors who are clearly more talented, more accomplished, more deserving than you and your little book? 

- When you tell someone you're a writer, does your heart sink when they asked you "So, what have you published?"

- Are you sitting on a great idea because you can't figure out how to deliver it - certain no agent is going to take you on anyway?

If so, I want to help you clear away the cobwebs: 

The very worst thing that could happen (in this equation) is that you could spend months or years polishing up a manuscript, send it to every agent in the known world, and end up with nothing to show for it except an inbox full of "Sorry, not for me."

What then?  You'd be left with a story you love that no one else cares about.

But if any of the statements above are true of you, then that's already happened.  You're already living your worst-case-scenario.  You already have a story no one else cares about you.  You already have a nothing.

You're living your worst nightmare.  Right now.

That means the only possibility from here is for things to stay the same (which you already know you can survive), or for things to get better.

So... go finish the story.  Gird your loins.  Let other writers tell you how to make it better.  Revise.  Polish (and maybe repeat all of that half a dozen times).  Then get advice on how to properly and effectively query an agent.  Then send your baby out into the big wide world.

Because the worst thing that could happen has already occurred.  But maybe it's time for the best thing you can imagine.

Your Turn: What's your greatest failure to date?  Are you letting that hold you back from succeeding now?

(Note: This post original appeared in June 2011)


  1. Gird your loins. My mother always told me that! It's the original "suck it up" phrase, lol! Great post and good advice!!

  2. Wow, I just days ago found your blog via twitter, yet you've already hit upon exactly what I'm dealing with lately...specifically points 1 and 4. (inadvertently, the graphic likewise hits upon another sensitive subject for me these days. How did you know?) ;).

    So thanks. Opening a fresh doc file right now.

  3. Well said.

    I am not afraid. Maybe I should be more afraid.

    Giving myself a break is the hard part.

    What is "gird your loins" anyway?

  4. I love this post so much.

    "Because the worst thing that could happen has already occurred. But maybe it's time for the best thing you can imagine."

    This is beautiful. Excellent, and wise, words.

  5. I blogged about my fear of failure last week. It's a constant struggle for me to convince myself that the failure is in the lack of trying.

  6. Just posted Denzel Washington's Commencement Speech on my blog on Falling Forward and succeeding through taking risk. Great minds on the same track. Wishing you awesome news from agent.

  7. I think you've been reading my mind! But it's nice to know I'm not alone in my thinking.