Fear of Success

Fear of Success

Blue Fear

In Dawn’s blog last week, I commented that I feared success, and I didn’t know why. This is something that I have believed about myself for some time. Admittedly, I’ve wondered why, but never too deeply. God no. That might mean I would discover the reason, and once I know the reason, well then, I might just have to do something about it. Gads!

There is another condition I suffer known as the FBS – Fluffy Butt Syndrome. In a nutshell, when confronted, I react like the proverbial ostrich and place my head in the sand, my fluffy butt in the air. In other words, I ignore the issue. An extremely useful condition, I assure you (in the most sarcastic terms).

So back to my fear of success . . . in the past I have, for the most part, ignored it. But if I ever want to publish, then using FBS as a crutch is no longer acceptable. Okay, so let’s break down this fear of mine. First, what might this success – for me, anyway – realistically looks like. After visualizing this success, do I still aspire to this level of success?

For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that I now have this picture in my mind, and after some soul searching, I still want this success, what then? So, I’m no psychoanalyst. Maybe I will never know the root cause of my irrational fear, but there are questions I might ask myself that could help overcome such a fear.

So what, exactly, do I fear?

Not being able to handle success. On some level, what we know is always more comfortable than the unknown. Achieving success means we are entering uncharted territory. Is it any wonder we might worry we are not up to the challenge. It’s easier not take the risk rather than expose ourselves to scrutiny, to criticism, and to new demands for more success.

Fear of Selling Out. Especially in the vibrant Indie world we now occupy, writers struggle with success. To succeed, will we sacrifice our artistic integrity? Will we write to the market? Will we adjust our plots to suit what is selling? Is that really the “success” we really want?

Fear of Becoming Someone Else. Makes sense. If you were satisfied with the status quo, why would we be working so hard to change? Will we be able to stand the light of scrutiny that success might shine on us if we were to achieve success?

So what to do about fear?

I wish I could say there was an easy fix. If there is, I haven’t found it. So for me – Soldier on. And constantly recall that most famous Franklin Roosevelt quote, “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”


Lorinda Peake

Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.

Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.

Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.

6 thoughts on “Fear of Success

  1. Hey Lorinda, Great Post. I want to address each of your three points.
    First, the fear of not being able to handle success – a few months ago, you were concerned about being a grandmother. Then you welcomed CJ and look what an awesome Grannie Annie you are. Success will fit just as seamlessly into your life – well, unless you became an overnight sensation, like JK Rowling – but that’s a different post.
    Second, your fear of selling out – my take on this is simple. If it means selling my books, hell yeah, I’ll sell. And I can sell what is popular without selling ‘out’. I’m certain you can, too. So, finish the damn book and let’s just see what happens.
    Third, Fear of Becoming Someone Else. Who exactly would that someone be? JK Rowling, maybe? Grannie Annie, perhaps? I know, you could become Dick Francis. Okay, all kidding aside – I promise you can count on your family and friends to keep your feet on the ground and your head out of the clouds.
    Here’s a challenge for you – publish your book and lets see how many of these fears become reality!

  2. Fear of success. I so get that. I’ve had the proof copy of my createsapce book for a solid week and not yet read it. I’m scared.
    As Ann said, though, I WILL soldier on.

  3. Amen, Terri!

    And Lorinda, I totally get this fear of success. For me, I think the root fear is a maintenance issue more than anything. Sure, I can do it once, but then people will EXPECT me to repeat my success. Holy crap, that’s scary!

    The thing is, we should turn our focus to PRIDE of success — a success that we alone get to define. Big picture-wise, there are only a handful of people whose opinion really matters, and those folks are going to be proud of our effort and our joy and our passion, not our sales rank or over-night fame.

    So, soldier on. We believe in you and we love you and we are proud of each word you put on page — even the crappy ones.

    Let’s fear less and become FEARLESS!!!

  4. For me, fear is always about some supposed future that I’m convinced will happen — OMG! I’m going to fail! OMG! I’m going to succeed!

    That’s reacting to something that isn’t real. There’s a reason most, if not all, spiritual traditions have a variant of, “Don’t fear tomorrow.” It’s because the only thing that exists right now is… Now. Everything tomorrow is illusory.

    My busy brain doesn’t want to hear that message, though, and goes haring off in all directions: What if no one buys my books? What if everyone buys my books? What if the 4 people who read the first book don’t like the second one? How big a bank account will I need when I start raking in the millions?

    All of those thoughts are my brain projecting into a future that doesn’t exist. So over the years I’ve learned to put my energy toward what does exist: The page in front of me. Setting the goal. Getting the word count up.

    This approach takes practice, but it works because this is all there actually is.

    My .02 (which may be about what it’s worth)

  5. So if I dig down a bit more, the question I ask myself is after so long pursuing this goal, what if my writing is only mediocre? In my brain, it all seems so perfect, but on the page . . . well. That’s why my mantra this year is to not worry about the quality (or lack thereof) of my 1st draft. It’s hard, but I’m trying

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