by Kassandra Lamb
We all have dreams, and we all believe that we want our dreams to come true.
So what stops us? Many people will say that life gets in the way. I can certainly relate to that. While I was busy making other dreams come true–marriage, raising a child, becoming a psychotherapist–my dream of being a writer simmered on the back burner for a very long time.
But other things can get in the way as well. The biggie is fear of failure.
The bigger the dream, the more we may fear that we won’t be able to achieve it, so why even try? The mild ache we feel when we think about our unfulfilled dream is nothing compared to the heartbreak we will experience if we try and fail.
I don’t have all the answers for overcoming this fear. But I think the most important step in that direction is realizing that a failure does not define who you are or your worth. To try and fail means you are brave. To not try…uh, not so brave.
Also, we’re not going to be great at everything we do. Your achievements do not define your worth; your inner self does. Are you kind, compassionate, hard-working, responsible? Then you are a worthy human being even if you’re not great at everything you try. (See my two posts on recovering from perfectionism for more on this.)
And if we don’t try, how will we ever know if we’re great at it or not?
The other fear that gets in people’s way, usually on a subconscious level, is fear of success.
Yes, you heard me right. Fear of Success. This is what that fear sounds like as it whispers in your ear:
So what if you do finish this first book and people like it? Then they’ll expect you to write another one, just as good or better. What if the first one’s a fluke? What if you only have one good book in you?
People can sometimes fear that they won’t be able to sustain success. And/or they may fear that others will develop certain expectations of them that they won’t be able to continue to fulfill.
This fear is more common when others have pushed us to pursue our dream. They may have inadvertently put undue pressure on us, made us feel that we would be letting them down if we don’t succeed.
Think about this for a moment. If you are successful at your first stab at something, how likely is it that you won’t be able to do it again? I get better at things with practice. Don’t you?
And even if you can only do it once. Isn’t that better than never pursuing your dream at all?
Yet another thing that can slow us down is not knowing the steps needed to get to our dream. We may have a vague idea of the first step or two, but after that it’s all a fog.
What I discovered with writing though is that the fog clears as you take the next step, and then the next. So you don’t have to see the whole path, just the next step or two in front of you.
My other dreams seemed obtainable so I pursued them, but the one about becoming a fiction writer–that always seemed out of reach. I absolutely hate having other people control my fate. I just couldn’t imagine myself making the rounds of agents and publishers, begging someone to give my literary baby a chance to live. So I never really tried. I wrote the beginnings of about five books over the years, but never got past chapter five or six in any of them.
Then I attended a workshop on e-publishing, and everything changed. I didn’t know all the steps but here was a path that would allow me to take control of my dream.
Whether or not it happened would depend on whether I could please my readers, not whether an agent or publisher thought my book was saleable. It’s taken six years to get here, but I now have eight books and three novellas published, with two more on the way. (To make the process easier for today’s new writers, I’ve spelled out the steps in the guidebook below.)
Whatever your dream is, don’t let fear stop you. Research what the first steps would be to make it happen. It might not be as hard as it looked, all foggy from the outside looking in. You may discover a path that you feel confident you can handle.
And as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
How about you? Do you have a dream you’ve never really pursued? Is this the year to make it happen?
If your dream has been to become a fiction writer, I now have a short, easy-to-read guidebook out for new writers. My goal is to show the path to making your dream come true, while helping you avoid the pain of some of the pitfalls and potholes I stumbled into during the last six years.
It’s just 99 cents for a limited time! (Goes up to $2.99 soon.)
Someday Is Here! by Kassandra Lamb
This easy-to-read, how-to guide is full of both practical advice and emotional support. Psychotherapist turned successful mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb takes novice writers by the hand and walks with them on their journey, pointing out pitfalls along the way, some of which she discovered through tumbled-head-first-into-them experience.
From the decisions to be made before setting pen to paper to whether to submit to agents or self-publish, from the basics of writing craft to the nuts and bolts of copyrighting and ISBNs, from promotion strategies to the perseverance needed to make your writing business a success, this overview of the writing and publishing process is a must-read for new authors who aren’t sure what they’re getting themselves into.
AVAILABLE NOW ON (just $0.99): AMAZON US AMAZON UK AMAZON CA APPLE KOBO B&N
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
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K.B. OwenJanuary 26, 2016 at 9:20 am
You’re absolutely right, Kass – fear of success is a formidable thing. Though it really is fear of failure in disguise, I think. We fear the failure will be even greater if we fall from the top. Good luck with your new guide! What a fab resource.
Kassandra LambJanuary 26, 2016 at 11:52 am
Thanks, Kathy!! And what a great way of phrasing that. Fear of success is really fear of failure in disguise…because a failing (falling) from the top would be more painful.
Vinnie HansenJanuary 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm
Thanks for another great post, Kass.
My dream is more a goal. I want to overcome my performance anxiety in my musical life. The anxiety is deeply rooted in a disastrous piano recital as a child and in the belief I “can’t sing.” Thanks to my wonderful music teacher I’ve already made the first step of not saying “I can’t sing” and instead saying, “I’m learning to sing.” Next step, to perform a little something for the group, maybe just a vocal warm-up.
Kassandra LambJanuary 26, 2016 at 5:51 pm
That’s a good approach, Vinnie. Baby steps!