Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

The Fear of Failure – Writing Edition



Last June, I finished the first draft of my novel and set goals for timeframes on revisions, sending query letters, and self-publishing. A year later, I completely missed the mark. I do have my Zelda series coming out very soon, but I am not even close to querying or publishing my novel. When I ask myself why, the excuses pop into my mind: work, family, life, etc. But, when I am honest with myself, I realize the biggest reason why my novel isn’t ready is me. It’s my fear of people reading my work. What if nobody likes the story? What if it’s a disaster? What if I wasted all this time on a dead project?

Writing is a career where you put yourself out there. You become vulnerable. I don’t like being vulnerable like most people. Writing is also a career of uncertainty. I don’t know if the next project will be well received. I don’t know if one day I can make a living off writing. I can take positive steps and make smart decisions to help this process, but it may take a long time.

I am trying to live with this fear and uncertainty. Some days are better than others. When I get positive feedback, my writing productivity soars. When I feel stuck in a story, I find myself turning on the tv or reading a book instead of opening up Scrivener.

Recently, I find myself in many conversations with friends and family about my future. They ask reasonable questions:

– Where are you going to live? (Our lease is up on our house and we are getting kicked out in a few months.)

– What are you doing next?

– What do you want to do?

The truth is I don’t know where I will be one year from now or even six months from now. I don’t know the details of where I will be living or what I will be doing. I do know I will be working somewhere- maybe the same jobs I have lined up right now, or maybe something completely different. But, I do know I will be writing. 

I love writing. I love creating characters and discovering how they transform in the course of a story. I love the idea of my words help someone smile on a rough day. I love brainstorming new story ideas.

And so, I will keep writing on the good and bad days. If I sell 10, 100 or 1000 copies of my next story, I will keep on writing. It’s who I am.


4 thoughts on “The Fear of Failure – Writing Edition

  1. Hi Kristen, It is interesting that I popped over here on this post because I am feeling so many of these very things you described. I am reading a book called Art and Fear by David Bayles and it discusses the very things you have mentioned here such as uncertainty, failure, etc. One of the suggestions they give for avoiding quitting is to find a group where you have to share your art on a regular basis, so maybe we are on the right track :-). Good-luck with your writing!

  2. I blame cosmic rays. I’ve run across a lot of blogs in the past week in which the blogger confesses to not having done much writing lately, or being way behind on a project. i’m way behind on one project and haven’t touched the other in two months. I just feel burnt out lately.

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