Overcoming Fear of Creative Failure, Part 1: Managing Expectations

Here's a confession: the closer I inch to release dates for professional writing projects, the more I suffer from senseless eleventh-hour panic spirals.

Along with the more garden-variety worries (that I'll disappoint people by not living up to my last project or by not producing something "good enough" or by writing something that not everyone likes -- imagine!), one of my more persistent concerns is the irrational fear that I'll never have another good idea.

Now, this fear is silly for a number of reasons; and identifying its roots has helped me push past it.

First, I must bear in mind that no one has ever demanded that I produce anything. God gifted me with skill and desire, and I love developing my gifts; but if I quit writing today, the world would continue spinning. Let's face it: there's already an overwhelming avalanche of content available. No one will ever get to it all, even without me adding to the pile.

Second, I've never not had a new idea. Sometimes the ideas have come quickly, and other times slowly - but they've always come. As Stevenson reminds us, "The world is full of a number of things." As long as I'm alive and active in the world, something will eventually spark.

Third, my underlying trust in the sovereignty of God means that I don't rely on myself to keep the plates spinning. He is the ultimate source of every good and perfect thing - including good ideas. 

It's all grace.

Dorothy L. Sayers is excellent on these points, and if you haven't read her book The Mind of the MakerI commend it to you. It's worth picking up for her robust treatment of the creative process as an outworking of the Imago Dei alone; but specific to our discussion at hand, it's also in that book that she pens this heart-warming admission: "No one is more insecure than the creative artist; in daring to dedicate himself to his work, he takes his life in his hands."


She gets it.

Creativity is a risk.

Risks can engender fear.

Fear doesn't have to win.

* * * * *

Image Attribution:

By Tellmeimok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Just what I needed to read today. Thanks!

  2. Just what I needed to read today. Thanks!

  3. This is fabulous and so true. I deal with the same fears, Ruth. I think all writers do. You are not alone.

    1. That's why it's so encouraging to hear Dorothy L. Sayers voice similar concerns and to know that Tolkien was convinced no one would ever read The Lord of the Rings. If they suffered these thoughts, who am I to think I can avoid them?

  4. Such a great post! I echo what has been said already. Just wht I needed to read��

    1. I think we all need the reminder sometimes! <3

  5. GREAT Post, Ruth! And so true!!
    Good luck and God's blessings

  6. Been there. Thought I was the only one. Thanks, Ruth!

    1. I think we all tread these waters from time to time.


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