The Fear of Failure

by | Feb 9, 2016 | writing

fearWe all have fears…fear of something happening to one of our kids, fear of death, fear of pain…I’m totally afraid of a minor outpatient surgical procedure I’ll be undergoing tomorrow morning. I would put forth that fear is a natural part of life. I would also like to propose that most of our adult fears are basically a fear of the unknown. My fear of spiders, however, doesn’t apply. That’s a known, very real danger. Watch out, people! They’re out to get us! (All joking aside, even I can appreciate what spiders do for our planet – bug population control.)

What about those of us who are artists? Who put ourselves out there through our work? Or who are preparing to do so? What about that fear?

That fear is real. I believe that just about every artist experiences some level of fear when putting their art out into the world. It’s so much a part of who we are. What if no one likes it? What if critics are harsh? What if it is rejected? It will be like they are rejecting us. Who we are at our very core.

That fear can get in the way.

“90% of people who have a one-on-one with an agent at a conference and are requested to send in their material, never do. There are many reasons for this, but the #1 barrier is fear.”
― Bob Mayer, Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author

That fear doesn’t give up. Let’s say you do submit to the agent. Let’s even say you publish. That fear becomes your companion. Maybe not constant and maybe not even at the forefront of your mind. But it’s there, lurking. Waiting for that negative review or that criticism to confirm for you what your worst fear tells you – that you don’t measure up.


teamHave your team. You need those people in your life who support you and can ground you. Both so your head doesn’t get up in the clouds and so that you don’t let a bad review or some off the wall comment about your work drag you down. My team is priceless. My friends and family make up this group of supporters, as well as my professional connections. My beta readers, critique group, and writing mentor are invaluable to me for so many reasons. Their support,

truthHave the truth. You need to know who you truly are and where your worth is found. As for me, my sense of value is founded in who God says I am. So, whatever happens on Amazon reviews does not affect that. I am doing what God has set before me to do. The truth is that I am learning my craft, doing the best I can, telling the story that is in me to tell. It is my art. And someone’s opinion is just that – their opinion.

Have the courage to stand up to the lie. The lie that fear wants to tell you is that you don’t measure up, that your work (and therefore you) have been rejected. The truth is that any negative thoughts are words coming forth are opinions. They don’t know you, or your heart, or the purpose of your story. If they are criticizing your art, it is possible they have totally missed the mark, or just don’t share your views. That’s all it means. This does not discount who you are as a person or as an artist.

believe in yourselfBelieve in yourself. You are your number one champion. Though you have your support group, you have to believe in yourself. You are the one who sets your goals, who accomplishes them. And the one who will choose to believe the truth and not the lies or the fear.


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Sara R. Turnquist