The Fear of Sucking (Not a Sex Thing….this time)

One more time: I’m writing a novel.  It’s going.  I don’t know how to rate the process because it’s my first time.  What do I know?  But just know, it’s going.

One of the things that I hear too often from artists of any stripe is this REALLY STUPID phrase:

I don’t artistic enterprise being engaged in for anyone but myself.

That sort of may or may not be true. (Not true not true!)  Regardless of what IS true, I don’t think that statement makes one lick of fracking sense.

Here’s why:

1.  If you only write for yourself, I should never hear you talk about it.  EVER!

I mean, if it’s just for you, shut the fuck up about it.  I don’t want to hear about things that are yours alone. In fact, why are you blabbing to me about it.

2.  Even if you do only write for yourself, you still have an audience: YOU.  And YOU don’t want to suck.

I record music.  Sometimes what I record is truly rancid.  It’s just a crime against humanity. And I quickly throw it away and pretend that nothing like that could ever come from my soul.  Music is a good analogy, because just because it comes from me doesn’t mean I don’t expect it to be truly great.  Nobody wants to hear nails on a chalkboard on the radio and think , “Yeah, that’s me. But I only did it for myself, so who cares if it’s not great.”  You’re lying to yourself to lower expectations.  Raise expectations and realize that you can do better.

3.  It doesn’t even mean anything.

Even if it’s true, it doesn’t help clarify anything.   Are you saying being good doesn’t matter?  I doubt it.  Are you saying that you don’t want to hear criticism? Maybe, but then we’re back to you shutting up if you’re engaging in the social act of putting something into the ether.  So what extends from that statement?  Not much from what I can see.  There is no real truth that comes from that.  It’s just deflection.


I’ve been worried that I may suck as a writer recently. In fact, I’m quite certain that may be true. So I’ve been trying to get better. I read things and see what works and what doesn’t for other people. I get annoyed when I see true talent.   And maybe that’s what’s the most important thing, to keep trying to be better, even if you’re no good.  Because you’ll at least be better than the sucking you once had.

But it’s always a fear with everything I do.  The fear of sucking.

How do you overcome that fear?  Please comment below.



Filed under Talent

8 responses to “The Fear of Sucking (Not a Sex Thing….this time)

  1. Do you suck at your day job? I’d think that was highly unlikely. As a matter of fact I would say your excellent at your day job. How did you get to that point? You worked at it, you kept working at it, you had training and input, you learned from those who did it before you and then you took all that information into that steel trap of a brain of yours and made it something GOOD…

    To me it’s the same basic principal as learning to walk. You didn’t know how once and now you do, as a matter of fact, it seems to me you had to kind of relearn this earlier this year, while you healed. You did it… repetition, your drive and everything else that you’ve accomplished came from where … ?

    Inside of you. Drive, motivation, stubbornness whatever you want to call it, it’s in there… so, to me you already have the drive, you simply have to be open (which I think you are) to learning a new skill. This takes time… and practice and re-writes and your friend is helping you edit it. Which is awesome… you learn about form and how things blend together and POOF before you know it, like when (as an example) you’ll have … lemme put this a bit differently.

    Because of what you know at your day job and the effort you’ve put in there, other than those lovely books that I read, I was always floored by how confident you came across and how well you said things. You write, very well … stories and things that entice the mind to keep reading etc., that can be learned too, I think.

    I write articles, I have bad grammar and people still want them and still ask me. They even edit them now and again for me and I certainly do not mind that. BUT … I think I write poorly … but I’m still asked 🙂 so… I write and they ask some more. Which is cool …

    Keep practicing … keep at it, you may suck. I think some of my stuff sucks. Do it anyway… s’totally true. Constructive critisism was something I used to struggle with because ego got in my way. Then I realized how great it was to have people who would give me the help I needed and I still think now and then I write sucky articles. LOL 🙂 Not so much the content but the delivery.

    Do it anyway … 🙂 Keep learning… keep doing. It’s what you’ve done all along with everything else no? Meh… it’s what I think. A writer may have a different perspective … failure is sooooo lame of a word.

    I bet you sucked at playing the guitar too when you first started out… ya following me here honey!? LOL…okay, this is officially overkill. later!

    • I think it’s just a natural fear. Maybe Mark Twain had it or Shakespeare had it. The point seems to be two fold: 1) don’t hold things back because they’re not perfect (i.e. don’t psyche yourself out until everything is just right), but 2) don’t think because nothing is every perfect that you don’t have to at least try to get better.

      Overall, I’m really talking about once you realize that you always have to get better and that your work may not be the greatest thing since hoolahoops, how do you keep that self-doubt from being paralyzing. I have no easy answer for this.

      • I agree with you completely… Do you remember that letter I wrote a while back in my other blog about pushing through something? (insert inquisitive expression, head slightly tilted to the left) It was last year… it’s the same feeling with anything new. You do your best to push through it, no matter what.

        Well, I don’t know what would work for you, however what works and has worked for me was to keep trying. When I’m all freaked out and can’t think straight, I vent (shocking), I talk to people, I watch what they do, I also pull from other experiences in my life where I was literally paralyzed and remind myself, “I did that”… then I find another one. It’s not like it makes “this new thing” less severe or easier, the fear is still there …

        We can go backwards on why, which comes up anyway, firm believer in that or we can go forward … it’s that middle part that sucks. 🙂

        Rule number one. Literally is to not compare yourself to someone else, but learn from them. If you’re comparing yourself to some guy whose published plah number of books or viewing it from some place like “who’d by this shit (because you’re hard on yourself) rule number two…

        Rule number two … if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And I mean repetition, I mean building your confidence by learning.

        oooh! In your job you have to “know” stuff. Right? And you’d better know it, or your screwed…. This is uncertainty for you … the unknown. And you “know” stuff at your job. These are unchartered waters… that IS scary… euw, who likes the unknown? Ptooey!

        Practice 🙂 Writing, if I have any grasp of it at all, is like music on a page. You have all those damned confusing dots, the bar thingy connecting them together, those… what are they called? signs and all that shit on a page that I really could never quite retain… but it’s the same principle here… once you understand it, beautiful things come out … 🙂 You just play… and there it is.

        You are good enough to do this. You just need some practice and a guitar pick. I just woke up? And imagine if this wasn’t the abbreviated version. LOL 🙂

        Maybe your writing for the wrong reasons… Whose to say? 🙂 I dunno… You do though.

        • And then… No, really… and then, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen if say your first try doesn’t get published? What is the worst thing that could happen if you publish it and it’s not bought?

          Does this define you all across the board? Does it minimize ANYTHING at all about you, AT ALL… No. It doesn’t, it’s about what’s in your head, which I”m sure was put there at some point and time by someone else.

          Which one are you doing…

          Emotions cloud judgement all the time and so do those voices in our heads. Logic is nice, the only way it’s going to pass and you’ll push through those fears is to keep at it.

          Because… you’re special right? No one can take this away from. And SO WHAT if you suck at writing in the end? You’re being too hard on yourself, I’ve neeeever done that at all! You really, really, have to keep countering all that fear with things you’ve already done, because there’s lots of things that you’ve already done. It’s a reminder of what you’re capable of. I think I’m done… Maybe.

          • Okay. One more… ROFL! Do you remember that sociopath guy you blogged about who worked in your office last year? I do… he was icky. Barf! Anyway… you hadda line in there, while you were talking about him where you said, “He’s almost as good as me”…. Almost… huh… so, obviously your GOOD at something right now, and AGAIN (because I love over kill LOL) You’re good at it because you do it all the time, you know it, you breath it… you live it Mr. Hyper focused on what you’re doing…

            This whole thing here, is, unnerving… I understand completely. Yet it’s the same principal. TA DA!

            Breeeath… iiin and ouuuut. Then go have a cookie or something. Okay, I am, now, officially finished. Thank you. LOL hahaha!

  2. By the way… I call “bullshit” because you got this. Okay… I feel better now. 😉 don’t you? LOL 🙂

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