F is for Fear of Failure

Illustration by Ramiro Roman.
Illustration by Ramiro Roman.

How does that saying go?

Blog like you’ve never been flamed.

Write like you don’t need the money.

And, uh, dance like nobody’s watching.

You get the idea.

I recently wrote an article for Be a Freelance Blogger about writers with Impostor Syndrome.

It’s an epidemic, I tells ya!

However, as bad as Impostor Syndrome is, it’s not the worst thing I’ve seen crop up among my fellow writers.

Those who suffer from Impostor Syndrome dismiss their successes as “luck.” BUT–and this is a big “but”–at least they have successes to dismiss. They went out there and got the job done (even if they feel like frauds afterward).

Writers with a crippling fear of failure will often stop writing entirely.

They don’t just stop doing. They stop trying.

And they never succeed.

That is, unless they…

Get Over It!

Is it possible for a freelance writer to get over their fear of failure?


I get over it every time I sit down and write something.

That’s right. Even after all these years, I still feel the fear. And that’s fine. The trick is this:

Feel the fear–and write anyway

In the end, it’s all about how much you want it. If you want to succeed more than you’re afraid of potentially failing…you’re going to be just fine.

Perseverance is a HUGE part of freelancing successfully. If you can’t tough it out–if you can’t persevere even when fear has you in a headlock–then freelance writing might not be for you after all.

But if you’re willing to chase after your writing dreams, even when they absolutely terrify you… Then I salute you, fellow writer!

I only help those who are willing to help themselves.  So, without further ado:

4 tips to quash your writing fears:

1. Restructure your “what ifs” to be more positive.

Instead of asking yourself “What if I fail?” ask yourself “What if I succeed?” If you insist on delving into the realm of hypotheticals, at least make them positive!

Instead of imagining all the things that could possibly go wrong (“What if they don’t like it,” “What if I get flamed in the comments,” “What if they don’t pay me”), start imagining all the things that could go right (“What if they love it,” “What if my article gets featured,” “What if they become a steady client”). Instead of living in fear of potentially negative results, start imagining–and working towards–the potentially AWESOME results.

2. Focus on one thing at a time.

I feel the fear the most when I have too many things on my plate. It’s all-too-easy to get overwhelmed. Ironically, at the time I’m writing this, I’ve managed to overbook myself for the first time in ages(Whoops!).

Earlier, I started to feel that old panic come creeping back. The way I’m writing this now? I focused on one project at a time. Pick a project. Get it done. Move onto the next project. Get that done. Repeat.

3. Get support.

Talking with someone close to you or, better yet, someone in the same field as you, can do a world of good. Often, saying your fears aloud will make you realize just how silly they actually are.

Also: You might get a hug. And hugs are the best.

4. Stop being a perfectionist.

Your work doesn’t need to be perfect. Forget perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. It just needs to be good enough. Really.

Perfectionism is just another form of procrastination.

It’s just an excuse. The time you waste fearing that a project isn’t “perfect” is time that could be spent creating.

Feel the fear.

Write it anyway.

Trust me: It’s going to be fine.

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