Fear is the mind-killer

Sarah ruminates:

I like the idea of writing reviews. I changed my mind about it, though. How can I possibly write a decent review in the face of everyone else who goes to Vox Popoli. I can’t compete with that. I won’t even try. It’ll probably suck. And what if I give a positive review on something, somebody reads it, and then they say that the book sucked! What if it’s not just one person but a whole bunch of people. I can’t deal with that sense of failure.

First, it will be a little while before Digital Cowboy and I get the CGI forms going and work out the HTML design for people to contribute book reviews to voxday.net. But what Sarah needs to understand is that one cannot improve without doing. Sure, her first reviews might well be unintentionally amusing – if they weren’t at least half about her instead of the book, I’d be shocked – but she will learn from both the rightful and the unreasonable scorn.

Sarah, consider how your ability to articulate an argument has been refined since you first started posting here. Now, it’s not important for you to write book reviews – it’s certainly not a way to make a living – but it’s important for you to learn how to face down your fear. Fear of failure is not only unreasonable, it’s pernicious since it guarantees failure without learning. It’s much better to try and fail 100 times than to never try and always fail, because each failure provides information that may increase the odds of success the next time around.

So, write a review or two on your blog. If you use the model I used in reviewing The Atrocity Archive, you’ll at least have a structure and ensure that you address all the significant points, which will put you ahead of 85 percent of all book reviews ever written right there.

Frank Herbert was right. Fear is a mind-killer. So, instead of seeing fear as something to be avoided, look at it as a test. Do it precisely because you’re afraid of it.