Maybe the title of this post has you scratching your heads. Who is afraid of success, after all? It may be surprising to consider that many people actually fear they will succeed at what they are doing. Freelance writing is no different. How do I know this? I know it because I've experienced it many times. I still do have a hard time accepting my accomplishments and reaping the rewards.
As much as hate to admit it, I feel afraid of success. The reasons for this may vary from day to day. Yet, I still have the same overall feeling about success as a writer. I've thought about this long and hard over the last four years. I'm aware it has something to do about how I rate myself as a person and how I evaluate my own skills as a writer. I readily admit that. So why am I afraid of success? What are some reasons for this attitude? Better yet, what are ways that I can overcome these feelings and embrace success?
Are you asking yourself similar questions? If you are, then let's take a closer look.
Why Writers Fear
It may be that when we become successful, we are now accountable to higher expectations. Confidence in the ability to write and confidence in conducting professional relationships with clients, editors, publishers, and readers both go out the window. Every time each of us writes something exceptional we are stretching ourselves creatively. We are moving beyond our comfort zones. Testing the limits of what we can do as writers can expose us and make us feel vulnerable.
Other times success can reveal our weaknesses as writers and demand our attention. We cannot ignore them and deal with our flaws when they are there right in front of us. When we have something published we are experiencing change on a certain level all the time. A successful writing project can lead us to more challenges and increase the load of responsibility we carry - both of which can be seriously intimidating!
How Do I Know I'm Afraid (How You Can Know It Too)
I've heard that there are some definite signs that may point to person being afraid of success. They are applicable no matter what field you are in. For this post, I'm using myself as an example. If these signs fit you, then let me know about it. Let us see if we can overcome them together.
Procrastination - Oh boy, this is the big one. I wrote about this in a previous post. This is the ultimate self-sabotage. I've done it many times in the past. It's one of those habits that I'm still learning to overcome. While I wasn't quick to connect it to a fear of success, I know that others in my life have made this connection. I just wasn't willing to see it then.
Giving in to pessimism and negative thinking - You may be at a point where you're thinking, "Why am I writing anyways? I will never get published. There isn't any money in freelance writing, so what am I doing?" Again, another self-sabotage tactic. If I believe that nothing good will come of my efforts, I will not try as hard to reach my goals of publication let alone get projects done on time and in perfect condition.
Writing more about writing than doing the actual work - "Be a doer of the word and not just a hearer only." A fear of success has often left me talking more about what I want to do and even writing about the sort of writing I want to do instead of putting in the time and effort to achieve these goals. The only way to get things done is to exert the self-discipline required. By not doing this, you may be nursing a fear of success.
How To Overcome It
1. Don't try to hide from the fear. Embrace it and accept that it is really happening. You might find that when you admit it, you will have an easier time moving forward with whatever writing you have to do.
2. Figure out why you're afraid of success. Dig down and get some answers. Ask those you know and trust. Let all of that anxiety and apprehension out so you can see what's causing it all. (In some case, you might seriously consider talking to a professional although that's not always required.)
3. Embrace failure as a necessary ingredient to future success. Some of that fear you have about success may be tied up in the possibility of subsequent failure. Don't get hung up on that. You have to realize that failure can be a valuable tool to help you achieve success at a later time.
4. Understand that your skills as a writer are always evolving. Nothing is set in stone. The levels you are working at right now will only improve as you continue to put in the effort time after time.
I wrote this little post not only for myself, but definitely for all of you who may be struggling in the same way. Friends and fellow writers, don't let a fear of success hinder you from reaching full potential. I certainly don't want it to cut things short for me.