Laughing at Fear (of Success)

Happy Halloween, BtO readers!

In honor of the day, I thought I'd spend a few moments reflecting on the fears that sometimes block our path. Not so much the legimate fears of the scary monsters of the writing business -- tough deadlines, fickle markets, and the ever-popular rejection -- but the subtle terrors that can take up residence in our subconscious and cause us to defeat ourselves.

I'm talking in particular about fear of success.

By it's very nature, Big Success is scary. It puts a writer out there in uncharted waters. It makes her visible in a way that modest, middle-of-the-pack achievement never can. It pushes her out of the safety of her current peer group and creates a profound shift in the way she will be viewed by friends and family.

It tempts the gods to smite us (you've read your mythology, right?) and inspires our internal editor (vicious harpies though they are) to shriek, "Who do you think you are?"

It also comes with larger risks, because no one makes as loud a belly flop as the highest divers when they enter the water at the wrong angle. And Big Success can't be achieved in the service of the status quo, can't be found in safety.

So just for today, try and root out any fear of success rooted in your psyche. Dress it up it a silly costume (like one of those so many insists on humiliating their poor pets with), and look at it for what it is. Then have yourself a good laugh, roll your eyes, and get yourself back to the kind of risk taking that this life (and sometimes Big Success) are all about.

In other words, get out of your own way and trust that this business will offer impediments enough.


What a great post, Colleen!! And just what I needed to hear today. Fear can definitely present itself as a roadblock to success.

Something I heard a few years ago: "Courage is contagious. So is fear. Fear can't hurt you--unless you surrender to it."

I often switch this saying around: "Fear is contagious. So is courage. Courage can't help you unless you allow it to." ;-)

Happy Halloween!

By the way, I love your "killer" pic! Lol

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
author of Lancelot's Lady
Thanks so much, Cheryl. I needed to hear it today, too. :) Love your thoughts on fear and courage!

Hope your day's filled with more treats than tricks!
Vicky said…
I don't know anything about huge achievements as Colleen wrote in her post, but for me, the 1st sale was huge. Naturally I was elated - so elated, I had trouble falling asleep. Suddenly, I jackknifed up in bed, gasping. "OMG, what have I done?" LOL - it was the old "they'll find out I'm a fraud" fear. Anyway, I thought I'd share my funny moment of terror.

Your title for the blog is spot-on, Colleen. Laughter is the best medicine ~ ensures we laugh at our foibles. Cheers!
A first sale IS a huge achievement, one that definitely thrusts writers out of their comfort zone. I had the exact same reaction, Vicky. Couldn't eat or sleep for days.
Jenni Bailey said…
This is pretty much the same thing my husband told me last night when I started whining about how nerve wracking the publishing industry can be. It really amounts to "just do what you feel like doing and find out for yourself." Worry and fear don't help and they definitely don't change the outcome. You can fret yourself into a coma but the end result will be whatever it will be.

Thank you for putting it into print for me. I might have to wander back to this post when I need a refresher. :)
Nancy J. Parra said…
Oh, great post!! and so true. thanks for sharing. Happy Halloween~
Thanks so much, Jenni and Nancy! Have a terrific weekend.

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