Writer’s Blog

Creativity Is Making Mistakes

How to get over the fear of failing and start writing.

Beth van der Pol
Nov 2 · 4 min read

The fear of failure is an emotion that sings to writers in their sleep. It haunts them as they dream up worlds. It follows them to their computer, invading their blank page and whispering in their ears, “What if you’re not good enough?”

Fear of failure is terrifying. It’s the reason that a lot of aspiring authors never reach their goals!

Sometimes the ideas that we dream up in our heads seem far too complicated and intricate to put to paper. How do you make sure that your story is perfect when you think your writing is inadequate?

Generating good ideas.

First thing’s first, if you don’t already have a story in mind, you need to start developing one. Open up an excel file, grab a bunch of sticky notes or a designated notebook for ideas and sit down at a desk or table.

You can sit on a couch if you work best when comfy, but I find I need a work setting to actually get to work. Otherwise, I keep playing with twitter, not ideal.

So get to a place where you can put in the work and start thinking. Put on your favorite music. I opt for lyricless because other words get in the way of my writing! Now comes the fun part, you’re going to start pumping out ideas.

The first thing you need to do is stop doubting. You can toss away, delete or cross out any ideas that aren’t good enough but you aren’t allowed to do that just yet. Don’t let self-doubt ruin this part of the process!

Compose a list of things that come to mind. We are talking title ideas, character names, character traits, bad habits, villains, heroes, or even items. Write down anything that seems interesting to you, write down as much as you can. You won’t use most of these ideas, so go nuts!

Once you’ve got a list, I want you to examine each idea individually, hold it up, stare at it and imagine what kind of story it belongs to. If it belongs to a story, you want to write, put it in a ‘yes’ pile, if not add it to a ‘no’ one!


Now that we have our ideas compiled, pick two or three of them, this can be at random, or you can get more specific. You’re going to sit down and free-write now.

Freewriting is a stream of consciousness writing without deleting or stopping. We are doing what is called a focused free-write. So choose a perspective and start writing. You want to make sure that you’re including as many of the ideas as you can.

You’re trying to craft a story around the items that you’ve chosen. If they don’t all go, don’t panic too much, just set aside the cards you don’t use for another time!

I want you to write anywhere from 500–1500 words using the topics you chose.

Once you’ve finished writing, if you feel like it and you’re enjoying this process you can, of course, pull a few more topics and keep going. If not, we’re ready to move onto the next step.


Grab a highlighter and read through your work. You can make corrections now if you think it will help you view your work more positively but don’t get too caught up, this short story isn’t your final version.

I want you to go through the text and highlight any parts that you loved! Have a look at your work and consider what could be refined. What could you reuse?

Do you want to continue with this story? Great, start plotting!

Do you want to use the good parts of your work somewhere else? Great, find a story where these pieces will fit!

Keep Pushing.

Not every idea will work out first try, some need to be discarded others need some polishing. Ultimately you have to decide how far you are willing to go! Put in the work, put in the practice, generate ideas, play with concepts and have fun!

Ultimately you are writing for yourself, and if you don’t like your story, it’s probably not working. Have fun with your writing, because that’s what books are all about, going on adventures and having fun!

If you’re not enjoying your story, it’s unlikely anyone else will. So make sure you’re writing something you love! As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!

The Startup

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Beth van der Pol

Written by

Author, writer and general young unprofessional!

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +524K people. Follow to join our community.

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