Some Say I’m Not “Good” Enough—They’re Right! By Carol Malone

Join us today as authorpreneur, ghostwriter, book and creative coach-in-training, Carol Malone, maneuvers through the world of differing fears. She gives advice through her own experiences of dealing with debilitating uncertainties. Enjoy!

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I know that’s a shocking statement to say we’re not good enough, but folks, it’s absolutely the truth.

“Why,” you might say, “would you say such a thing? It’s hurtful. It doesn’t help me. You’re just plain mean.”

Some authors might’ve been blessed with the skills to be brilliant from our mother’s womb. I don’t know many writers who were born with a silver typewriter in their mouths. Do you?

However, some of us are not so lucky and aren’t good enough to be writers (yet). Therefore, we must study and learn the art of writing, develop skills, and techniques, and continue to learn and hone these skills.

Yes, some have natural ability—they see and talk in story. Their English—written and spoken—is perfect. But what they wrote in the beginning wasn’t Pulitzer Prize winning stuff.

They needed to hone their craft, tighten their exposition, and perfect their writing skills. Then they had to write over and over again.

It’s not a one and done proposition. Writers constantly need to refresh their abilities and upgrade their skills and master new techniques for writing stunning literature.

If we’re not learning and growing, we really aren’t going to become good enough to finish all those books we dream of publishing.

What’s holding us back from being “good” enough?

Fear.

It all boils down to fear.

I’ve recently engaged in a lesson on fear and how it affects us.

We fear not being good enough, like I said above.

We’re not good enough.

We need help to succeed.

Fear can immobilize us, stop us from moving forward. Fear can overwhelm us, discourage us, cause us to feel like we can’t function.

Fear keeps us focused on us—“poor me,” “nobody loves me,” “I’m no good,” “everyone is out to get me,” etc.

I know you’ve said this stuff to yourself. So have I.

Fear can rob us of joy and keeps us stuck in a fog.

But one facet I heard from this discussion that surprised me. Fear makes us angry. I know, right? Weird. Fear makes us angry?

Why does fear/anger keep us from being “good” enough?

I’d never thought of fear leading to anger. I was shocked to equate anger with being afraid. So I did some research on the subject.

From an article titled “Anger Vs. Fear” in Mentalhelp.net, by Harry Mills, Ph.D., Harry said, “In large part, it is our psychological interpretation of arousal feelings that determines whether we will feel fear, anger, or a combination of both.

“Think about your own experiences with fear and anger. What does it mean when you experience that sinking feeling in your stomach, sweat on your brow and nervous palpitation of your heart? These physiological symptoms can be signs that you are afraid, angry, or both.

In fact, it can be difficult to tell anger apart from fear if you discount the presence of anger-triggering thoughts. In order to determine what specific emotion you are feeling, you need to examine the contents of your thoughts. What you are thinking is the surest way to figure out whether you are primarily angry or afraid.”

It’s the old adage, “Flight or Fight.”

I have some problems with my Emotional Tool Box.

It’s not as complete as I would like.

For some reason, I put fear very high on my tool shelf.

When I open my email and see literally hundreds of emails from “Writing Experts,” and go on Facebook and count just as many coming at me from all directions, feelings of being overwhelmed rush up to greet me.

Basically, I panic.

Where’s my Cymbalta, my Valium, my Prozac?

There’s so much information out there, so many Facebook posts, Tweets, emails, etc., about writing, publishing, advertising, and selling books, that overwhelm ratchets up my anxiety to fear, to down-right dread that I’m failing at being good enough.

A while back, I was in a critique group with four other romance writers. We were are various stages in our writers’ journey. I held my own. I thought we were doing well together.

Then in July of 2017, all four other critique partners quit the group on the same day.

My fear: what I did do to tick them off or offend them enough for them to quit—at the same time and on the same day?

I wasn’t good enough to hold together a critique group.

Well, these writers started their own group on Facebook. They now have a following of about 6,000 writers. They’re holding their own conference and have their own YouTube channel where they teach writing principles. They’re selling upward of $10,000 of eBooks per month.

My fear told me: “What happened to me? Why didn’t I hit the authorpreneur gravy-train as did my four former critique partners? I failed.”

So, I stayed stuck, filled with fear and … anger, that I didn’t succeed, or had been given the opportunity to succeed as they had done.

So, I wallowed in my fear, my anger because “…simply put, they [anger/fear] allow us [me] to escape upsetting, shameful, or anxiety-laden feelings we [I] may not have developed the emotional resources—or ego strength—to successfully cope with.”

— Comments by Leon F. Sheltzer, Ph.D., from his article “Anger—How We Transfer Feelings of Guilt, Hurt, and Fear,” Psychology Today.

How does one “develop the ego strength and emotional resources” to deal with the fear of others’ success?

Good question, right?

A meme from simplereminders.com resonated with me and the sentiment gives me courage.

“You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

I’m all over the map.

Sometimes, I just let it destroy my progress for the day and I plop into my comfy recliner and veg out all day on Hallmark moves—yes, even the ones I’ve seen four or five times already.

Then there are days when I turn that anxiety around and count myself blessed for having gone through the discouragement, the panic, and muscle out on the other side.

Believe me, I’m not always successful. But I’m getting better. When I immerse myself in my writing, editing, or help other writers, I am better, stronger, and fearless. So, voilà, no anger because someone did better.

Look, if writing were easy, everyone would do it.

So true.

I have some talent where storytelling is concerned, but getting those fantastic stories from my head through my arms and out my fingers to the keyboard, sometimes words and feelings get lost along the nerves and cells.

I’ve found me a couple more critique groups, put myself out there, stretched, grown, slipped back, gained another foothold, and like the venerable tortoise, kept plodding along.

I’ve found I don’t need to wallow in my fear and anger. It doesn’t do me any good.

Sometimes, I’m only crawling on my belly over sharp rocks, but I’m moving forward.

But what if we fear our own success?

I fear my own success, because then I’ll actually have to do something, achieve something, and keep it going.

I’ve become my own roadblock to success. No one really stands in my way of gaining writerly success except little ‘ole me. Me and my pesky excuses as to why I didn’t get this or that accomplished, why I didn’t finish writing that one prize-winning book, or finish editing those twenty prize-winning books still trapped on my hard drive.

There’s me telling myself, “I’m just mediocre and that it’s good enough for who I am.”

I’ve created my “fake” list of excuses and stand in my own way. Do you do that?

How can I make myself realize I was meant to make a huge difference? How can you?

“We are doing what we are meant to do, what we were created to do, and why we were placed here on earth.”

Well to figure that out, I found some questions for us to ask ourselves in an article by Melanie Spring, “How to Overcome the Fear of Success,” on Entrepreneur.com.

Are you with me? Okay, here we go.

  1. Why am I standing in my own way? What do you need to let go of?
  2. What does success look like to me? Getting clear on your goals is key to knowing what success looks like.
  3. What happens when I am successful? What will having that do for you? (Phrase courtesy of Beth Barany.) Will you celebrate? Will you find a new direction? Will you quit?

Get out of your own way and quit with the excuses.

Can we do that?

Can we replace fear with faith in ourselves and the process and the knowledge we’ve sought after, and inch our way forward?

Can we stay focused, dream big, move toward our goals?

Keep on truckin’.

Nothing works unless you do. Keep calm and carry on.

Will you? Will I? There’s no place to go but up. (Don’t you just love clichés?)

What will you attempt today when your fear screams “you can’t do it?” Please leave a comment and let me know if you screamed back.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award winning author, Carol Malone, writes humorous tales of romance, suspense, and adventure to challenge women to triumph over their doubts and fears. When not hammering out new adventures, Carol is reading suspenseful romance and switching between a Dodger game and a Hallmark movie on TV. Carol’s husband of 37 years and sci-fi writer, is amazed she can read and watch TV at the same time. Her 36-year-old son has launched, but she keeps hoping for grandchildren. To chat with Carol or get the latest dish on the Dodgers or why she writes pulp-fiction, race on over to her website: http://carolmalone.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolmaloneauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarolAnneMalone

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4 Responses

  1. Hugh Tipping says:

    Carol, a brilliant blog post that speaks to all of us who can stand in our own way and who can be afraid of not living up to some sort of impossible archetype of a writer. This can be applied to so many parts of life. What a thorough addressing of the underlying mechanisms of fear and an illustration of how we have control over how much it controls us. Brilliant.

  2. Carol Malone says:

    Thank you so much, Hugh. It’s me in a nutshell. Filled with fear that I allow to overwhelm me. It’s a daily struggle to see beyond the fear and anger and shove it to the side or stumble through it. I’m certain the stumbling through will reap the greater reward of battle scars, and not only that, but a victory of strength where once we were weak. We move forward at our own pace and hopefully, we’ll meet our fears on the battlefield, and conquer with the sword of faith.

  3. Hugh Tipping says:

    Frequently we see ourselves across the battlefield from us. That may be the toughest battle of all.

  4. Carol Malone says:

    Hugh, I absolutely see me when looking across the battlefield of life. We can be our biggest enemy, but we can become our biggest supporter, if we realize we can’t do it all alone and while holding on to the angst of the past. We need our own character arc. Here’s to finding our own. Blessings to you, Hugh.

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