Fear of failure is one of the hardest things to deal with as a writer.
We do our very best work, putting our heart and souls into our writing, and there is no guarantee whether it will fly or flop.
Thankfully, we are not alone.
Tons of other very successful writers have had to deal with this fear as well, and they’ve left behind some wisdom for us when it comes to fear of failure and dealing with failures in our writing.
Here are ten quotes on getting over and getting through that fear of failure from writers who have been there and made it to the other side:
Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure. — Paulo Coelho
We can’t let the fear of failure get in the way of pursuing our dreams.
The thing is, we are probably going to fail anyway here and there on our writing journey.
We are going to have things rejected.
We are going to have things get published and then flop.
But we have to remember all the time what we really want from life and not let that fear get in the way of starting and continuing when things go wrong.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
Go ahead and dream big.
Set your big goals and go for them.
What’s the worst that can happen if you shoot for the moon with your writing — spend a year on a manuscript, pitch your best work to a magazine, publish a book on your own…
Yeah, we might fail, but we will never know if we would have succeeded if we don’t try in the first place, so go ahead and try.
For writers, failure is never creating anything meaningful — and as a result, not making a difference with their words. — Jeff Goins
What Jeff here means is: write anyway.
Even if you are afraid of failure.
Even if you think your writing isn’t going to go anywhere, or be seen by enough eyes or the right eyes, write anyway.
We won’t have the chance of being seen or discovered if we don’t start creating our body of work and putting it out into the world, and if I’ve learned one thing about putting my personal writing into the world is that you never know when it’s going to have an impact on someone.
You can’t make an impact if you’re too afraid to write.
Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes. Who set the bar so high that most of our attempts to sail gracefully over it on the viewless wings of Poesy end in an undignified scramble or a nasty fall into the mud? Who told us we had to succeed at any cost? — Margaret Atwood
Failure is normal.
But we have to keep writing anyway even if that means lowering the bar a little bit and setting smaller goals if your big ones keep ending in failure.
No one told us we have to succeed at any cost, unless you’re like me and you’re telling yourself that, but if your goal seems to impossible to reach, there’s nothing wrong with breaking it down into smaller, more manageable goals and going from there.
Don’t set the bar so high that you get entirely discouraged and stop writing because of it.
“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” ― Jack Kerouac
It’s a good idea to set goals in your writing, because it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to do too many things at once, or too many things without a plan.
My failure to finish editing any novel to get it ready for publication has as much to do with my fear of it failing and not being worth it as it has to do with the fact that I feel like I have fifteen other projects up in the air.
Control your projects.
Try to stick to a few key things that will boost your writing career, and put the rest on the back burner.
“To ward off a feeling of failure, she joked that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejection slips, which she chose not to see as messages to stop, but rather as tickets to the game.” — Anita Shreve
Getting rejected is proof that you put yourself in the arena no matter how scary it was.
Getting rejected is something to have some pride over because at least you had the guts to try for something.
Don’t be ashamed of your failures.
Wallpaper your walls and your heart and remind yourself that you were brave enough to get to the point of getting rejected — not all writers even get that far.
Rejection refines us. Those who fall prey to its enervating soul-sucking tentacles are doomed. Those who persist past it are survivors. Best ask yourself the question: what kind of writer are you? The kind who survives? Or the kind who gets asphyxiated by the tentacles of woe?” — Chuck Wendig
If you get rejected, and you keep getting rejected, don’t let that get you down.
Eventually, your writing will find its place to belong.
The important thing, as Mr. Wendig says, is to persist past the rejection and keep writing anyway.
Are you the kind of person who gives up after being rejected, or are you the type who uses rejection to fuel their writing even more?
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”― Oscar Wilde
Sometimes failure or rejection can be a good thing.
You learn from both, for sure, but there’s something different about suffering through writing something and seeing it flop that really brings out the feels in me.
Failing, or just not doing as well as you thought you would, could be exactly the kick in the butt you need to step up your game and work even harder.
That’s not a bad thing.
We have to keep proving to ourselves, as well as others, that we are great writers.
If we have setbacks, and we’re strong, we’re going to come out stronger when we fail at something and still have that burning desire to win.
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” -Truman Capote
Think about it.
The wins feel that much better if they’re preceded by failures.
When we have a great win, we are going to look back at all those little failures and say ha. ha. ha.
I’ve done it!
And it’s going to feel great.
Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. — C. S. Lewis
There’s no avoiding failure on the road to success.
It’s all just part of the game, and we have to deal with failures any way we know how.
At least we know that there aren’t all downsides to failure, and as writers, we certainly aren’t struggling alone.