Yesterday I felt fearful on the inside. You know. Those times you look at the future and wonder just how it can pan out positively. Not one real reason to be afraid but real as the nose on my face nevertheless.
It made me think about how we are so pressured to parade our online personality in a particular way – but behind the scenes we share a barrel load of anxieties that we rarely speak of. I say ‘we’, because I am 100% certain I am not alone in facing the writer and indie author’s six-headed nemesis.
All I know is that an enemy out in the open is stripped of power. In the light of day, the roaring lions purr a little quieter.
Here are seven fears and anxieties I struggle with as an online creator.
Fear of Being a Pretender
Anyone in the online content creation arena immediately sets themselves up for this accusation. Despite knowing we have something of real value to share there’s the nagging doubt that tries to convince us we re just pretending to be someone of something we are not. That we are merely ‘trying to be’ an author. The fact that we write and publish all the time on numerous platforms does not seem to diminish the feeling that we will be a writer ‘one day’.
Let me ask you. How many articles or books do you need to write before you become a writer? If you are not an author today, what will need to occur before you can call yourself one tomorrow?
Whatever we pursue in life, we don’t begin as experts. And our creative status is never complete if we follow a path of learning. I find the best antidote to Pretender Syndrome is to accept that I am on an unfinished journey, in unchartered territory, and that I have simply chosen to share that journey publicly with others. Despite my inner fears of not quite measuring up, I have to accept that the dream of becoming is far more satisfying than not dreaming at all.
Who knows? Maybe one day I will be a writer! Maybe, just maybe, someone might read my blog post. Hang on. You are reading this! One more step toward the mythical status I so vainly seek – all the while actually doing exactly what I fear I am pretending to do. Maybe you are not pretending after all.
Fear of Being an Imposter
Similar but not quite the same as Pretender Syndrome. Feeling like an imposter is a strange one. You are looked upon and accepted by others (at least some of them) as the genuine article. You frequent circles with other writers and content creators, and by all accounts look like the real thing. All the while you feel like an imposter. A cloaked villain in the game who will one day be exposed for the shockingly ordinary person you really are. Among the adults who do this thing for real, you are the kid in big shoes, talking loud and hoping no one checks your ID.
How do I attack this one? How do I invest in my identity in such a way that I can stand confidently alongside my peers without having to watch every word and movement that may expose me?
I get honest! I tell others how I feel, and how much I have to learn. I recognise the attributes I value and admire in others and look for ways to recognise and acknowledge them. I quit trying to be someone and just be who I am where I am and how I am and seek to be true to myself.
I am a writer because I write. An author because people read. Not because I have the right friends or hang out with the right people. Darn! Why do I waste my energies comparing myself to others when I could better throw that energy into another article or chapter, honing my craft rather than stroking my ego?
I’m an imposter only when I try to impose myself into circles and spheres I have not been invited to. Instead of chasing accolades, I want to learn to chase a dream only I can pursue. It will be different to yours for sure, with many similarities to boot, but it’s one that can only be carved by my own fair fingers on the keyboard.
And along the way, God will connect me with the people I need connection with. Just what’s needed for the next step.
House of Cards Syndrome
I really hate this one.
I find myself actually making strides forward. Really enjoying doing what I love. I feel the flow and producing great work. And then this uninvited anxiety creeps in. The fear that the business I am building, the legacy that’s under construction, will someday come crashing down around my ears. The awful sense that soon it will all come undone. My progress will unravel and I will be left marooned in my own pitiful sense of failure.
It’s a creeping dread that some unknown terror is waiting to pounce and make dust of the dream you are seeking to live.
The danger is that we stop in our tracks, or back off our course.
Perhaps even more dangerous, we begin to try harder, and strive to protect what we have already created. Instead of joyfully fulfilling destiny, we start hustling for more, thinking that stockpiling or thoughtlessly diversifying will somehow protect us from a frightening future disaster.
Joyce Meyer, a preacher I love to listen to, once defined FEAR in the following way. I think she hit the nail on the head. F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal.
Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Nothing is without risk or quarantined from circumstances beyond our control.
In the meantime let’s not be driven by a fear of what might be taken from us, and focus on what we can give.
If you must strive, let your striving be towards sowing to the future rather than swerving some unknown disaster than may or may not ever come.
Jesus spoke about a farmer.
“So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
(Mark 4:26–29 KJV)
The farmer knows that his only responsibility is to rightly sow the seed. All his fretting and fears of an unknown future harvest cannot cause the stalks to sprout and he jolly well knows it. While he sleeps his seeds go to work and God brings the increase. First the blade, then the ear until the harvest is fully ripe. Isn’t it good to know that God is at work on your behalf, even while you sleep?
Your words and daily disciplines are the same. They sow to your future. Every word laid down is one more passionate possibility of breakthrough. Every word unwritten is 100% guaranteed never to produce for you.
And if a storm come? So let it come. No life is without challenge and change.
But let’s feel our way forward with a heart of trust.
Jeremiah 29:11 is not just a verse to frame, they are faithful words that can frame your future with God’s goodness. Simple trust can go a long way to allay unreasonable fears.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Fear of Starting
My procrastination manifests a two end of the spectrum. The first is not so surprising. I avoid starting those things I DON’T like to do. I’m not a big fan of administrative tasks, answering emails, and I have an inexplicable anxiousness around diaries and dates. I will do almost anything rather than tackle tasks that centre on detail.
But the other end of my procrastination spectrum is harder to explain. I dance around the things I really DO WANT more than anything else in the world. Instead of writing I fiddle with the peripherals that may look like the life of a writer but are in fact just the fluff that we tickle our egos with.
Maybe it’s because the stakes seem so much higher when our heart is involved? Maybe it seems easier to be assured we cannot fail by not entering the arena in the first place?
But the slow death of a life unlived and a world unfurled is ultimately so much more painful than one lived in glorious terror! Take that trembling step and DO IT.
Reading a book or blog about writing is not writing. Tweaking your author page is not writing.
Whatever you do, start today. Continue tomorrow. And don’t stop the day after that.
Don’t set your self unattainable goals that petrify you in the starting blocks. If 200 words a day is all you can do, jolly well do them. Every day. Don’t fool yourself with nanonano promised of a novel by the end of the month if you can’t manage a hundred words today. Be real and ruthless and DO THE WORK of a writer. That is the only path to the end goal, and to get there you need to start right now.
The best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. The next best time? Right this minute!
Don’t waste another day fearing beginning. Get started, and don’t stop!
Fear of Finishing
Over the start line and right to the end. You have a product ready to fly. A book ready to publish. So what’s stopping you? I’m wrestling this one as we speak with a couple of projects. Instead of launching with imperfect simplicity I am endlessly creating funnels and frills thinking that somehow if I perfect them all before letting loose it will somehow make the magic happen. Now, I’m not advocating thoughtless half-baked launches – but if you are procrastinating, fearing what might happen (or not happen more to the point) when your book actually hits the shelves, you too may be caught in these finish line headlights.
How many books languish on your harddrive? How many products that could be spruced up a little and readily published, remain among the digital debris?
Sometimes the point of arrival has a signpost welcoming you, and on the signpost in large letters, good enough is good enough.
You don’t need one more edit. You don’t have to have a website, fan page, street team, blog, author page, radio show and podcast before you press publish. Seriously, and I am talking to myself, let the thing fly and if it fails try, try again.
But better to have flown and fallen than never fly at all.
The Comparison Trap
I have spoken about this man-trap in other articles. Certainly it is rooted in fear: the fear of not measuring up!
It is incredible to me that however well I do, whatever mountains I conquer, whoever I meet and wherever I roam, there is always someone better, bolder, further, higher, richer, smoother, more wonderfully awesome and stellar than I am. In my eyes. Always another finish line that moves when I reach it. Always another opportunity to stroke my ego, or berate myself for not being quite up to par.
Two sides of the same deceitful coin: Pride and False Humility. Bed partners in the war against contentment and a thankful life lived in fulness.
And the root I believe is that sense that we are somehow striving to be significant. A significance based on notoriety, audience, income, accomplishments or acquaintances. But our identity is not ultimately in these things. That is why they can NEVER deliver the significance you seek. You are God’s child, and His unconditional love is the atmosphere for identity to blossom.
Thing is, where I am now in my progress (in some areas of life at least) is the very place I dreamed of as the exotic destination of the ‘successful’ only a few short years ago. Yet, now I am here, I find myself wrestling the same demons telling me I’m not quite there yet. Not entirely complete until…
The goal posts keep changing with every step forward if we measure ourselves by others. There is a wild and original path that God has prepared for you to forge, following His footsteps.
I know I quoted this truth earlier, but let’s look at Ephesians 2:10 in the Amplified translation:
“For we are God’s (own) handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew) that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live) .”
Ephesians 2:10 AMP
Even this very day I was presented with a prime opportunity to feel slighted, less than and overlooked in respect to a particular project I hold close to my heart. What should I do when another is chosen over me? What if that other author gets the accolade?
Whatever your niche, opportunities to weigh yourself by somebody else’s call will be abundant.
I think the worm and hook is often thrown into the transient seas of social media, looking for a bite.
I have found two ways to bypass the plundering of my confidence and avoid the comparison trap.
Number 1, I mentioned above – know YOUR call. Don’t compare it to someone elses. Stay on path and on target. Take time to simmer down, switch off the noise, and centre yourself afresh in the sure knowledge of God’s unique plan for your life and business. It cannot be stolen by another, and cannot be diminished by someone else’s success.
In fact, in God’s economy, the success of another feeds your own success as you take courage that He is no respecter of persons, and has as much passionate interest in your prosperity as the next man or woman.
Secondly, instead of focussing on what others are doing, hone in on your own creative work and reclaim the time spent scrolling feeds and wandering the web, like a fish in the sea ready for another worm, and instead put all of that energy into creating something for someone else to scroll.
The creative process and resulting fruit is so satisfying compared to spitting at the wind.
What Writer’s Fears Are You Overcoming?
Part of my purpose in this confessional is to relieve you of any sense that you are unusual or ‘bad’ to wrestle with such fears. Even though we know it, we can still believe that the rest of the world has it all together and we are the only basket case on the block.
Most of us are like the rest of us!
We all face struggles, inward and out.
What are some of yours? And how are you facing and overcoming them? If you are bold enough to do so, share them in the comments. You may just help someone else who is facing a similar mountain.