The most dreaded words in all existence by creatives.
Also known as creative bankruptcy, writer’s block is all about a single four-letter word. One that we rarely even want to mention.
It’s an “F word” that is frowned upon by people from all areas of life. And this word is keeping you from writing, editing, formatting, and publishing your next blog post.
Fear affects us all more than we care to admit, and it’s especially insidious when it comes to creative endeavors. Writing online is one of those activities where you’re really putting yourself out there, and the critics seem to be all too eager to tear you apart. But as we’ll see below, failure and mediocrity are not the only things we fear.
1. Fear of Failure
Countless psychological studies have shown that fear of failure is the number one barrier to success.
We fear failure because we often tie our ego to a certain desired outcome, and therefore we feel like we’re risking our sense of self-esteem with each blog post we attempt to write.
A strong enough dose of fear, and your mind goes blank.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Without freedom from the outcome, we are afraid of failing, and because we have chained our ego with the outcome, failure will mean that we, too, are failures.
How do you fix this?
Well, first of all, you should admit that you’re afraid. Acknowledge your fear of failure, understand that it’s human to be afraid, and then you should:
- realize that failure is the only way to ever become better.
- each failure brings you closer to success.
- failure is the best teacher you could ever have.
- the outcome is just an event, not who you are.
- focus on doing the work, not on your desired goal or outcome.
2. Fear of Success
Why would we fear success? That’s what we want, right?
It doesn’t make sense…
Well, yes, success is awesome, but we also know from experience that success also means change, and sometimes that change can be unexpected.
And we often fear that there might be some aspects of success that we can’t handle. Also, we might be afraid that our friends and family might become jealous of our newfound success, or we might feel a sense of dread when it comes to the responsibilities that we might have to take on.
As they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
This, our brain talks us out of doing the things we need to do in order to succeed, just so we can avoid the prospect of an unfamiliar situation, even if it’s something we’d consider to be heaven.
In other words, most times our mind prefers the hell it knows (failure, mediocrity) over a heaven it doesn’t quite understand (success, achievement).
Remember these things when fighting your fear of success:
- change comes whether you succeed or fail. Isn’t it better to succeed then?
- the unfamiliar is always a place of growth (or, at least, presents us with the opportunity to grow), so we should welcome the notion of unexpected change.
- we are adaptable by nature, and we can adapt to whatever changes our success will bring
- ultimately, when it comes to success, it all comes down to our ability to do the work, no matter what.
3. Fear of Rejection
Our fear of rejection is the most obvious and common negative influence that keeps us from punching those keys.
We fear that our work won’t be good enough, so why even start? Why bother publishing that article if people are going to hate it?
How do we avoid our fear of rejection?
Remember, you’ll never please everyone. You only have to find and please your audience.
Also, you should know that you can only control the work you do, but not the outcome of that work.
Once you publish your article, you have to let it go. It’s no longer yours, and your audience can do what they want with it. They can either love it or hate it, but your main concern should begin work on your next article.
4. Fear of Mediocrity
70 million blog posts get published every single month. No wonder we are afraid of publishing content that no one will bother to read.
Our fear of mediocrity manifests itself as perfectionism.
We keep writing, rewriting, and editing the same article, over and over again, never quite grasping this simple fact: nothing is ever perfect.
The truth is that we should understand this: our fear of outcome prevents us from ever becoming good enough to publish work we’re proud of.
It’s a vicious and paradoxical circle fueled by our fear.
If you want to become a better blogger, then you need to become free of outcome.
Is it really better to be safe than sorry? Sometimes, yes.
But in most cases, you will find out that not taking action because of fear means to fail by default, means to forfeit the game before you even arrive on the playing field.
Our brains work against us. We’re designed to embrace consistency, safety, and familiarity, but fortune favors the bold who venture into the center of their fears and let go of their desire for perfection, recognition, or an easy path towards success.
Ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen? Often, it’s not really all that bad.
Tell yourself: your job is to punch the damn keys. Your job is to do so armed with the skills and tools that are at your disposal.
Then, your job is to click on the publish button.
What happens after that is no longer your concern.
You have to let go.
Imagine a paper airplane. Imagine crafting it into perfection, spending the time to make sure it keeps on soaring through the room…
The moment you let it go, you no longer control it.
How could you?
Now, as you throw your paper airplane, it’s at the mercy of other factors. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
That’s what prolific bloggers do. They have let go of their desire for a particular outcome.
Yes, they have goals, they have a vision, but they are also free from outcome.
They do what they do, and they do their best, but then they click on the publish button, and that’s it.
Rather than be fueled by their fears, they are being guided by a strict system that allows them to create and publish content consistently.
Why is this important?
Because otherwise you will have to fight against some nasty symptoms of fear:
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It happened again, didn’t it?
Another week or month has passed, and you’ve made zero progress on your writing.
Deep down you know your writing is important, but it seems impossible to take consistent action.
What’s going on here?
The truth is, you don’t feel inspired.
You can’t help but marvel at other bloggers who seem to come up with one great idea after another.
How do you get there?
How do you find the inspiration you need in order to become the prolific, popular, and successful writer you have always dreamt of becoming?
Lucky you, this eBook contains 90 ways that will turbocharge your creativity and find much needed inspiration.
10,000 Hours of Procrastination
In his 2008 release, Outliers, journalist Malcolm Gladwell introduced the notion that one has to spend 10,000 hours working at their craft before they can become a true master.
Now, even though the idea is catchy, and it’s a valid one indeed, there’s a lot to be said about the kind of work one has to put in. It’s not just work-work, but it’s working towards mastery, a competitive and aggressive way of working towards bettering yourself day in and day out.
10,000 hours of that, and you’ll become so good they can’t ignore you.
Unfortunately, most people are too busy doing their 10,000 hours of procrastination to ever become world-class at a certain skill.
They spend 10,000 hours of fear and loathing in an ultra-competitive society that judges you harshly for any failed attempt.
10,000. Ten thousand.
Years of your life spent thinking about doing it, reading about doing it, making plans about doing it, daydreaming about the success you will enjoy as the result of you doing it.
That’s a lot. It’s a lot of time spent listening to the inner critic, to all those who tell you that you can’t do it.
You “invest” years of your life. A bad investment, indeed, but that’s how you learn. You learn that if you keep following the advice of those who tell you that you can’t, you will crawl through life.
The road to mastery is paved with countless moments of doubt and hesitation.
Like I said, procrastination is, indeed, a symptom of fear.
In most cases, you are afraid that you are going to waste your time by writing an article no one’s ever going to read.
It all comes down to time, which we’re subconsciously aware is the one resource on earth we’re never going to get back.
The 10,000 hours of procrastination are tricky. The hours you waste, because you’re afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid of what your parents might have to say.
That’s what makes people quit. That’s what makes their minds go, “Abort mission, abort mission!”
10,000 hours of procrastination. Nothing more, nothing less. 10,000 hours of wishing you’d have the time, the energy, the resources, the right friends, to do it.
10,000 hours of being afraid, day in and day out.
Doesn’t it sound exhausting?
Wouldn’t it make much more sense to feel the fear and just punch the damn keys anyways?
Wouldn’t it be better to just write the article, publish it, and see what happens? Wouldn’t it be better to be excited about the prospect of sharing your words, your ideas, and your experiences with others?
Let’s Make Perfectionism Great Again
Another symptom of fear is perfectionism. You are choosing to postpone clicking that publish button because you are afraid that no one is going to read your post, or that no one is going to comment, or that they will hate it.
You fear failure, success, and everything in between. You hate that you’d come to the realization that if only you’d worked harder on your post, it would have performed better.
Well, I am here to tell you that you are sabotaging your blog by being a perfectionist.
A perfectionist never finishes anything.
The number one rule of growing a blog is this: frequently and consistently publish new content.
If you cannot finish anything, what are you going to publish? Excuses? Reposts of stuff you wrote two years ago?
A perfectionist loathes the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. A perfectionist always wants to spend more time working on their article, more time refining the sentences, editing and proofreading, doing more research…
But the truth is this: nothing will ever be as beautiful as it is in your mind, and not finishing a blog post means that it remains perfect. Unblemished by the reality of real feedback from other people.
As they say, everything’s possible as long as you don’t do anything. Your post could become anything you want it to, as long as you keep writing, rewriting, editing, adding, and removing.
However, a finished blog post — even one that falls short of its potential — teaches you lessons that you will never learn otherwise.
In other words, a perfectionist is afraid to let go.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
And all successful bloggers figure this one out. And you must too.
There’s always something to add or edit or improve upon. That’s the nature of this craft. That’s the nature of the written word.
But you are sabotaging your blog by never letting your words go.
A simple cure for this is to let go of all expectations once you click the publish button. Simply put, your post is no longer yours. It belongs to your readers now, and they can do with it what they please: they can like it, share it, agree with it or not, act upon the advice you share, or tell all their friends how wrong you are.
There’s nothing you can do, so there’s no point in feeding your fear with all sorts of scenarios while you contemplate whether or not you should publish your post.
A perfectionist’s worst nightmare is the publish button.
Most bloggers out there struggle with the white reflection of a blank document.
But not the perfectionist. No. The perfectionist writes his first draft, rewrites it, reads it again, leaves it for a few days, then works on it a few more times.
The perfectionist is afraid to click on that publish button.
“What if they don’t like it?” the perfectionist keeps asking.
Well, what if they do?
Besides, how are you ever going to find out if your work is any good?
Failure and rejection teach you what great blogging looks and feels like. You will never know if your blog post is any good if you do not click on that publish button.
You mustn’t fear perfection, because you will never reach it.
Of course, you can edit your blog posts and go over them until you hate them. Until the thought of having to read them again makes your brain hurt.
That’s when you release your blog post. You let it go. You let others tell you if it’s good or not.
And while they are busy deciding if your post is any good, you work on writing and publishing new posts.
That’s how blogging works: you punch the damn keys, you edit, you publish, and then you go back to punching the keys.
It’s that simple. And that difficult.
And there’s no point in you making it more difficult than it has to be by trying to create perfection on the blank page of a document.
Impatience Ruins Everything
The third symptom of fear is impatience.
It sounds paradoxical, and it is, but the truth is that if you’re afraid you’re going to fail, you’re going to be rejected, your work is going to be mediocre, and even if you were to be successful, it’s still going to be difficult for you, why even bother?
Just write everything as fast as possible, and that’s it.
Of course, what happens is this: your article is, indeed, going to fail, going to be mediocre, and is going to be rejected.
By being low-energy about your efforts to write something worth reading, you are, in effect, becoming your own sort of prophet.
You don’t know the future, but you can surely write it into existence.
Let go of your fears, do the best you can, punch the damn keys, and click on the publish button.