The Fear of Failure


I’ve had this site set up since Christmas. I spent ages choosing my layout, the exact shade of colour I wanted as my background, my header and tag line. The next six months I stared at a blank page and thought to myself “Ah, well I don’t have time this week. There’s that important paper I have to write… and that book I’ve been meaning to read… maybe next week.”

It’s quite scary getting your writing out on the big wide web, where it can be criticised and talked about. What if I’m not as good as I thought I was? What if it doesn’t get any views? What if I’m a failure? I think the fear of failure is one of the biggest challenges to over come, even overcoming the fear to start an introduction blog post to a community who probably won’t find it until I’m several, more confident, posts down the line. So I thought failure would be a good topic to start with discussing.

My Top Tips:

You probably think I am not the best person to be coming to for advice on over coming fear on publishing your writing. It took me six months after all. However, maybe it is someone like me you should be seeking advice from because, you are probably me six months ago. Scared? Nervous? Putting it off simply so you don’t have your confidence shattered? Yeah, I thought so. So here’s how I got over it:

  1. Just hit send: It sounds stupid, but if you don’t hit send now, how are you going to get anywhere? If you don’t send in your manuscript to a publishers how will you ever get published? You would say the same if your friend complained about not having a job but refused to apply to any, wouldn’t you? So perhaps my top tip, would be to just hit send. So what if it’s a bit rough around the edges if it’s your first post? At least you posted. If this means stuffing your face with chocolate or having a glass of wine to get your courage up to do so then that’s fine, you are doing better than I was for the past six months!
  2. You tumblr_loww8aUF4N1qhmhdfo1_500won’t succeed the first time. At the beginning of my third year of university, I thought I was going to fail my degree. I had had a few bad marks, and everyone’s confidence gets knocked when you really enjoyed writing a paper only to have your tutor tell you in truth you were awful. So I made myself a little sticky note that is pinned to my wall and says: Failure means FIRST ATTEMPT AT LEARNING. And it is something we forget. We’re not going to be awesome to begin with, we need to learn through our mistakes. And that is OK. Nobody is expecting you to wake up and write the next best-selling novel. It takes blood, sweat, tears and a lot of coffee. Telling yourself that the first draft is going to be bad, and that it is OK for it to be bad is the first step to overcoming your fear of failure.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: The only time failing is really a failure is if you don’t learn from what you have done wrong. If someone gives you some feedback don’t just discard it and convince yourself you know best: READ what they have said. If they are telling you you repeat a word too often, go through and think of other words you could use instead of ‘sigh’ or ‘said’. It is broadening your vocabulary, it is making it more interesting to read, developing your character! All these amazing things from one little piece of advice. Do take on board criticisms. They shouldn’t be viewed as bad things, rather little gifts of wisdom.
  4. It’s OK to feel upset: I think one of the biggest problems I have had is being annoyed with myself for feeling upset. I like to act very cool and confident, tell everyone I know I’m not going to get the role I applied for. For a while I can believe in the lie too, but when the rejection letter comes through I’mimage always surprised as to how upset I am about it. It is OK to feel upset! It sucks. You wanted that job, you could have probably done a better job than whoever they chose instead. The key to allowing yourself to be upset and letting those feelings getting in the way is the power you let it have over you. Yeah it sucks, but there’s a thousand other opportunities out there. Take a minute, process your annoyance by going for a walk or ranting to your mum, and then get back on that horse, soldier!
  5. Keep Writing: If you get rejected the first time, whether it’s from a job in publishing that you wanted, or whether your manuscript “Isn’t quite what they are looking for” for the love of God do not stop writing. Don’t let that friend with the steady job at John Lewis tell you a managerial scheme is better for you. This is your dream – are you going to let someone else tell you to give up on it? Failing is learning, and to get better you need to keep writing. Whenever I get a refusal from somewhere the first thing I like to do is one of my prompts to get the creative juices flowing again and remind myself why I am torturing myself so much. Because I love writing.


So here I am, following my top tips on failure, and am about to press send. It may have taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that failing is OK, and just another way to learn, but I got there. I hope you do too.

That’s all for now, happy writing Ink-slingers!


If you have any tips on over coming the fear of failure, or dealing with failure, please feel free to comment and share!



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