I know, it’s been a while since I posted on the blog! My last post was nearly ten weeks ago. I guess I’ve been busy. Between traveling to visit a friend in Atlanta for a publishing event, client work, and two hurricanes, it’s been a busy couple of months. I’m sorry for the delay!
But beyond being busy, I haven’t really known what to post. I read a lot, and lately I’ve been kind of scared to post on my own blog and on social media. Fear has been on my mind a lot lately. Fear of not doing enough, not being enough, not working hard enough.
Fear of failure.
I know many writers struggle with those same fears, as do most people who are putting themselves out there in the world. Sharing our projects with the world makes us vulnerable, and vulnerability is super uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable leads to those fears. It’s a vicious cycle.
I get it! I’ve been working on conquering my own fears over the last few weeks.
Starting December 1st, I’ll be hosting in-person workshops in Raleigh. (If you’re in the area, I hope you join me! It’s going to be really fun.) I’m really excited to do this because I’ve been wanting to since early 2018. Yes, it’s taken me a whole 10 months to get to the point of even booking space for an event.
And that’s all because of fear.
It’s not that I didn’t have content or ideas to share and teach–no, I’ve got TONS of that stuff! Truth be told, I’ve been scared about failing. I’ve been scared that I won’t sell any seats in the workshop, that the event space would be out of my budget, that people will laugh and think my workshop is stupid, and the list goes on.
Overcoming these fears has been a process, and I have to keep working through them daily. That’s all part of the process of breaking these negative thought patterns and fears. After all, that’s there to really be scared of?
Through trial and error, I’ve found four techniques that help me overcome my fears.
1. Acknowledge those fears without letting them take control.
Recognizing your fears isn’t the hard part, it’s not falling into a fear spiral that’s difficult. Don’t focus on the exaggerations the fears whisper to you, but instead, thank those fears for speaking up in the first place.
As Brené Brown said, “Numb the dark and you numb the light.” You can’t squash your fears and negative feelings without also missing out on all of the positives.
By giving your insecurities space to exist, you can begin to acknowledge them with curiosity rather than fear. Thank your fears for warning you of potential dangers and pitfalls, then move on. It takes practice, but it’s doable.
And if you feel that sitting with a professional will best serve you, please visit Psychology Today to find a trained professional near you. My client-turned-friend Samantha Heuwagen is a therapist in Atlanta, GA and she even made this handy video about how to find the right therapist for you. She has some great videos on her YouTube channel and articles on her website if you want to learn more about therapy, self-care, and self-love.
2. Be realistic about the worst case scenario.
Just like you should acknowledge your fears, you should also be realistic about what bad things could actually happen should those fears become reality.
Going back to my example about my workshop, here’s how I logically worked through the worst case scenarios.
- What if I don’t sell any seats? The deposit on the room is low, so if you really can’t drum up any interest, you are only losing a little bit of money. It’s within budget.
- What if someone doesn’t like the workshop? You can ask them what they didn’t like and what could be better. This will show them you care about making their elevating experience, and it will also help you improve for future workshops.
Truly, those are the worst things that can happen. And when I write them down and think through them logically, they’re not that bad. Nobody is going to get hurt, I might just have a bruised ego for a few days if things don’t go according to my plans.
There’s always a lesson to be learned in ‘failure.’ Whether it’s how to market your next book better, how to be smarter about your budget, or who you should work with as your next cover designer, mistakes are not the end of the world. Everything will work out in the end.
3. Say goodbye to perfectionism.
Oh, perfectionism. I have such a love-hate relationship with perfectionism. It’s one thing to hold yourself to a high standard, and it’s another to expect no errors.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Perfectionism is the enemy of progress.”
If you’re worried about your project being absolutely perfect, with no errors, and everyone loves it, you’re never going to get it out to your audience. Never! Because There will always be errors and not everyone will love what you produce. That’s life and being human.
Instead of focusing on getting things perfect, strive to do your best, to put your best foot forward. You can put out a high-quality project while still acknowledging that nothing is ever truly perfect. Besides, if you could do everything perfect, you would never grow, and growth is key to being an artist.
You’ll be surprised at how freeing it is to care about doing your best rather than being perfect. Give it a try.
4. Imagine the positive scenarios.
Much like working through the possible worst case scenarios should you “fail,” you should also imagine the positives.
While I was mulling over my workshop idea even more, I had this light bulb moment where I realized all of the great things that could come out of a workshop whether everyone LOVED it or not.
- Meeting local writers. I’ve only lived in Raleigh for about a year, and meeting some local folks in my industry would be great!
- Making new friends. See above. 🙂
- Making new business connections. You never know who you’ll meet and how you’ll be able to help each other. Business connections have helped me in the past.
- Finding potential new clients. People don’t know I exist unless I put myself out there.
- Growing my business. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and it’s a great chance to branch out and grow. I could even host two per month!
- Making some money. Unless NOBODY signs up, I will make some money. It’s worth a shot.
- Helping writers! This is why I started my business, and workshops will help me help a new audience!
By acknowledging all of the things that can go right, you may quell some of those “worst case” ideas and fears. If you’re feeling especially down or disillusioned, focus on all of the positives that will come out of going for your goals.
Easier Said than Done
At the end of the day, this is all easier said than done. If you truly want to work through your fears, you must be mindful and consistent. It can be an uncomfortable change to make, and you’ll probably have to be diligent about working through your doubts, but even changing your mindset a little bit each day will add up over time.
How do YOU beat your fears and work towards your goals? Let me know in the comments below, tell me on social media, or join my Facebook group.
If you’re in the Triangle area and are interested in my workshop, you can buy tickets here.
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferris?
This is similar to how he goes about fear setting, which he says is more important than goal setting. Write out the worst case scenarios and make plans to ensure they don’t happen. Then write about what you can do if the worst case scenarios do happen. Then write about what would happen if you don’t do that thing.
I do some journaling for that.
And of course, find a good community of writers, online/offline and hang out. That helped me. If I am in that looping headspace of anxiety, the perfect thing for me to do is ask people about their work.
Hi Mark! I’ve heard of Tim Ferris but admittedly haven’t read much of his stuff. It sounds like a great exercise, though! Thank you for sharing. 🙂