Anyone who is familiar with Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune will recognize something in the title of this post. Okay, I’ll admit I’ve perverted it somewhat for my own ends as you can see below. But fear of blogging really is the mind-killer.
Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.Source: Dune by Frank Herbert
I wouldn’t say I’m a huge sci-fi buff… but a few books and movies in this genre have had a big impact on me. Frank Herbert’s Dune novels are once such example.
The events of Dune take place in an imagined distant future, where life, depends upon a spice called Melange. The spice is only found on a planet called Arrakis.
Arrakis is a desert planet, the Dune of the novel. The spice Melange is actually a drug, which enables navigators to travel between star systems. Some users of Melange are also able to predict possible futures.
Dune follows the quest of Paul Atreides, the heir to the Dukedom of the powerful House Atreides. Paul sets out to avenge his father’s politically motivated assassination by the villanous Baron Harkonnen. Along the way he learns the secrets of the planet Arrakis and fulfils his prophesied destiny.
I’ll put thoughts of Dune to one side for a moment and come back to it in my summary. Believe it or not there’s a reason why I’ve referenced it here.
For now though I’ll get back on track with the main discussion point of this post: fear of blogging.
Blogging Fear & How to Manage It
At some time or another we all experience fears that impact our confidence about blogging or our ability to blog in the way we’d like.
The following points are fears I’ve experienced… and still do from time to time if I’m honest. I’ll summarize each and then provide approaches for how to manage them.
1. Fear of Starting a Blog
An obvious one to begin. It’s normal to feel excited about starting something new but we can be conflicted and feel fearful at the same time.
The fear of starting new things is a recognized phobia… it’s called neophobia!
We might experience thoughts like:
- Will I look stupid?
- Am I going to get any visitors?
- Will I be wasting my time?
It’s normal to worry about such things when thinking about starting a blog. Some of these worries are rational and some irrational. While many might not apply to everyone, fear of the unknown is a common experience for most of us.
Not knowing how things will play out is unsettling and that’s one of the characteristics of risk. Some of us are more averse to risk than others so probably suffer more at times where perceived risk surfaces.
When you start a blog you do take a risk. You have to invest time with no guarantee your blog will work out the way you want it to. This is a valid reason to worry.
Overcoming Fear of Starting a Blog
- Remember that neophobia is normal. It’s something that’s come from our primeval past: it helped to keep us alive where doing something new might pose a genuine threat to survival.
- It’s also useful to remember that starting a blog is only a new thing when your start it! Over time the sense of newness will fade and your fear of starting will simply stop!
- Starting a blog is absolutely a leap of faith. No-one ever really knows how any new blog will turn out. However you won’t ever know unless you start.
2. Fear of Blogging Failure
I suffer from fear of failure enormously. Atychiphobia as it’s scientifically known, has prevented me from attempting some things, which in retrospect I would really have liked to do. But it’s not specific to me.
Fear of failure is a widespread phobia. A study from 2015 by the goal based social network Linkagoal, surveyed 1,083 people about their biggest fear. It found that top of the list at 31% was fear of failure!
Fear of blogging failure can kill your desire to start a blog or affect your ability to work on your blog to the best of your ability.
If you’re frightened of failure you might be uncomfortable trying new things or adopting new ideas. You might struggle to follow through with commitments or convince yourself you’re not good enough. Furthermore you might find it hard to commit yourself to things if a positive outcome seems unlikely.
Overcoming Fear of Blogging Failure
- Make a list of all potential positive and negative outcomes.
- Identify the worst-case scenarios on the list and assign the likelihood of them occurring and the impact if they do.
- Devise plans for each worst-case that you activate if they occur.
- Practise techniques to think positively.
3. Fear of Blogging Success
It may seem counter-intuitive to some, but achievemephobia (fear of success) is something real.
For some people the feelings of excitement associated with success can feel similar to the feelings of experiencing something traumatic. People who feel this way this will try to avoid these feelings because they find them unsettling. This can lead to a fear of achieving success itself.
Others are afraid of what might happen if their blog becomes successful. They might worry their life will change in a way they can’t yet comprehend. Or perhaps they’ll feel that the attitudes of people they know might change towards them in some way.
In blogging terms, a fear of success creates an avoidance mentality, where the act promoting their blog increases the likelihood it will succeed. You might hold yourself back from working as hard as you can to give your blog the best chance.
Overcoming Fear of Blogging Success
- Your fear of success is not unique and many successful people suffer from it. Seek advice from someone you know who has achieved success in any field and ask them about their experience.
- Acknowledge that your fear of success can be connected to your fear of failure. If you want to become successful at something you have to take risks. If you take risks, you risk failure.
- Make a list of your success fears and look at each of them objectively on paper. How likely is it that the by-products of success will surface? Ask yourself what you can do if they do occur.
4. Fear of Commitment
No relationship ideas here I’m afraid… I’m talking worry about committing to your blog rather than committing to a person!
Fear of commitment has a relationship with fear of the unknown. Committing to something we don’t fully understand is rightly concerning. How can we not be concerned if we don’t know how much time something will take, how difficult it will be or whether or not we’ll be successful?
As with many commitment concerns, it’s really the thought of committing yourself to something that’s often the problem. Once you make the decision to throw yourself in, the fear goes away as you’re focused upon the delivering what you commit to. Once we’ve chosen to commit we remove the ability to make excuses to opt out.
Overcoming Fear of Blogging Commitment
- I agonize over certain decisions requiring me to commit. I overanalyze, weigh up the pros and cons and look for possible failure points. Even for things I’d like to do! What worked for me with the SideGains blog was making the decision to start regardless of the pros and cons.
- Committing first before weighing up the pros and cons means you won’t be held back by unnecessary overanalysis.
5. Fear of What People Think
Definitely one of my bugbears. The fear of what people arises from the sense of embarrassment or shame we imagine we’ll feel if we transgress an expected standard.
We imagine people will think the worst of us if we do something we feel is stupid. As a result we’ll feel ashamed.
This idea for me is rooted is the assumption that people might be waiting for me to foul up! However, many studies show that we tend to overestimate the extent to which people monitor our shortcomings and how severely they think about us when we make mistakes.
When we allow this fear to affect our blogging, we no longer write from a true place since we’ll write according to how we feel we might be perceived. If we don’t write as ourselves, we lose the one thing unique to us… our voice.
Overcoming Fear of What People Think
- Try to remember that most people AREN’T actually paying attention to you and waiting for you to make a mistake!
- Seek constructive opinions about your blogging from people who really matter to you.
- Remember that you can’t please everyone so don’t expect that everyone will like what you do and say.
- There is no right or wrong when it comes to opinion. You’ve got yours and others have theirs… but remember that opinions change!
- Focus on your goals and and how to achieve them rather than focussing on the minutiae of the part you play in achieving them.
6. Fear of Your Niche
It can certainly be daunting to look at the big hitters in your niche. Of course it’s easy to imagine they’re better than you, they know more about the niche than you do or that your words are minnows compared to theirs!
You might be frightened to tackle a particular niche if you’re about to start blogging or you might hold yourself back from promoting your blog if you’ve already begun.
Part of fearing your niche might have some relationship with a fear of what other bloggers might think (see above). You might also feel daunted by your niche if it’s very broad and you don’t know where to begin or where to focus.
This is normal. I often have days where I feel very small and overawed by the niches I’ve chosen. They’re very competitive and many of the established blogs within them have been around for a lot longer than mine.
So what can you do about it if your niche intimidates you?
Overcoming Fear of Your Niche
- Remember that all the ultra-bloggers in your niche were all in your position at one time.
- Your niche may be overwhelmingly large so try to focus upon and become an expert in one aspect of it. You can begin to branch out form there over time to cover other areas.
- Remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day!
- Try to build relationships with other people in your niche and make an effort to get to know them. You may discover you have a lot in common even though you might be competitors.
- If you’re worried about your knowledge gaps, make learning a priority.
7. Fear of Approaching People
A strong connection with fear of what people think but perhaps more acute. We can consider phobias such as social anxiety as playing a big part in this and we know from studies it affect a very large group of society.
Approximately 15 million American adults, or 7.1 percent of the adult population, and 5.5 percent of the teenage population are affected.Source: Verywell Mind
It’s a widespread problem and one that will terrify you if you’re a blogger suffering from it while trying to get it off the ground.
A redeeming thought for bloggers who struggle to approach people with confidence, is that you rarely need to do so in person. In my experience being online makes it a lot easier.
The truth is that promoting your blog requires you to build relationships with other bloggers. You’ll want people to build links to your blog and share your posts to increase your reach. This helps your blog to attract visitors.
For bloggers with extreme social anxiety, even the relative anonymity of electronic correspondence can still be enormously challenging. But it’s important to try to find ways to overcome it.
Overcoming Fear of Approaching People
- Read self-help books on managing anxiety.
- Research Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
- Practise mindfulness through a mobile app.
- Build relationships with people in your niche in small steps. Share their content, comment on their posts and social media activity and over time you’ll begin to trust one another.
- Create a list of objectives and identify those causing you the most anxiety. Work your way from the least stressful and gently expose yourself upwards to the ones you consider most dangerous.
- Your fears can definitely hold back your blogging. But no matter how real they are to you, fears are just feelings.
- Blogging does involve risk. When we publish something we put ourselves out there and people may judge us for what we say but…
- We are not responsible for how others think or feel about what we do or say as bloggers. It’s impossible to write in a way to try to satisfy everyone.
- There are techniques we can use to help us overcome our blogging fears.
- Sometimes the best approach to blogging is not to think too much about it. This is as true for starting a blog as it is for promoting our blog posts.
But What About the Dune Connection?
At this point I’ll come back to Dune… even though I don’t want to say too much more about it to avoid spoilers*.
*A new movie of Dune will be released soon!
Within the Dune universe, there is a powerful, quasi-religious female order called the Bene Gesserit. Members of the Bene Gesserit, develop magical powers through years of training.
An important part of their training helps them to combat fear, the mind-killer from the quote in the introduction. The training involves a mantra called the Litany Against Fear, which they recite in their training.
I will face my fear.Source: Dune by Frank Herbert
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
As someone who suffers from anxiety this has stayed with me since the first time I read it. I’ve always seen it as useful mantra… and I use it myself. Perhaps it can help your blogging fears if you’re like me?
Thanks for reading.
I’ve you’ve experienced anything I’ve talked about I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Why not leave me a comment about your fear of blogging and what you did to overcome it?