"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Monday, August 8, 2011

Break Free From Archaic Fear and Persevere

The definition of archaic fear, according to Merriam-Webster, is to feel fear in oneself. This type of fear can be a writer’s worst enemy. I should know I persevere from it all the time. How about you?

It’s not easy for writers to admit from time to time they suffer from the fear of failure, fear of not being good enough or the worst form of archaic fear; fear of success. These three types of fear are what many times cause the clich├ęd term, “writer’s block, and if allowed free to grow and fester in a writer’s mind can lead to the difference between them becoming a writer and only dreaming of being a writer. 
Let’s explore: 


Often times, the fear of failure and perfectionism go hand in hand. It’s not to say perfectionism is a bad thing. For some it is the drive behind the pride in their work or the reason they never give up until the end. But it does become a bad thing for us writers when we allow it to hinder us from moving forward by stopping at every ;, ., :, “ “, !, ?. I bet that slowed you down in your tracks and made you say, “Huh?” 

That is what happens when we let perfectionism take over and stop us from allowing the story driving us crazy inside our head to come alive. By stopping at every sentence, paragraph or corner to self-edit before the work is even completed we stop the creative process dead in its tracks and suddenly we’re blaming, “writer’s block.”  Allow yourself to fail. There is plenty of time for perfectionism in the rewrite.


Ah, self-doubt, those mixed perceptions one has which only to the person having them are reality. Many writers can relate to being given the advice, “If you ever want to be a good writer, read, read and read great literature so you know what good writing is.” Not bad advice if you are a student in the history of literature, not so good if you have any desire to one day make your dream of being a writer come true. 

I’m by no means saying do not read great literature or the work of authors who are best-sellers. Like anything in learning doing so helps you set a compass to challenge yourself to become the best writer YOU can be. Think about a literary world in which everyone wrote the same way or produced the same stories. What a boring unimaginative world it would be. 

Read books that inspire you, books that get your creative juices flowing and books that educate you. Then, smash the images inside your head telling you you’re not good enough and write, write, write what you know, write what you like and write what you have to say!


To some, fear of success is an oxymoron. But for others, it can be likened to fiction and as any writer knows, a well written antagonist is a mirrored image of the protagonist. In other words, on one hand you have the possibility of success, perhaps a six figure deal, and on the other hand, you have the possibility of it changing you from an aspiring writer into a writer terrified of keeping the momentum.

I believe it important for a person to have a definition of what success looks and feels like before they can judge whether they have succeeded or not. Success comes in many different sized packages, and before that package can be opened I believe the single most important thing any writer can do is to define what their success is going to look like. 

For some, it may be to have a short story published; their novel turned into a blockbuster or to simply have a certain number of members join their blog. Therefore, in order to overcome fearing success, you must first know what your success looks like. Define it, strive for it and if at first you don’t succeed, redefine it and fine tune it until you do. Success is what you make it, not what it makes of you.

Knowing what you fear can help you overcome it and break free from its stronghold and persevere in whatever endeavor you undertake. The next time you fear putting words to page, step back, take a deep breath and confront what’s stopping you and write, write, write.

Until next time,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author