How do you deal with crippling fear?


I’ve been thinking of creating a course/book, but find it hard to get started. I was going to create a marketing page, but am scared of looking like a fraud.

And I don’t mean Imposter Syndrome - a term I hate because everyone uses it and it has now become a cliche… I mean “He knows so little, and yet here he is trying to teach us.” When I look at other people/blogs on the web, they know a lot more than me, and I feel dishonest about trying to compete with them. So I spend all my time reading blogs, visiting humorous websites; anything to avoid starting my actual project.

Has anyone else faced this crippling fear? How do you deal with it?


I find 2 approaches to be helpful.

  1. Writing about the scary stuff and elaborating it in a journal. You’ll be surprised at the insights you can get by writing vs just thinking about something.
  2. Imagine a younger person (child/sibling) has approached you with the same scenario. Would you advise them to keep on learning/postponing? Or do you think they’ll stretch their comfort zone and grow by executing the idea. Just follow the advice you would give them.

I’d recommend trying to launch something small and making a small amount of money or getting some users to use it.

I spent some time on a stupid little lead generation app and had a lot of people interested in it. Made $100. Decided it wasn’t worth it and shut the app down but somehow that totally erased any of the fears I had.

Then may be the fear is justified. If you really do not know enough to teach, it is too early to teach.

On the other hand, for 100 people who know more than you, there are 1000 who knows less. You just need to visualize a target person - who they are, what is their background, what they do for living, what’s their pain now - and teach them stuff they do not know (and you already do).

After all, “X for Dummies” is one of the most popular series.

Start by teaching people here - or on other forums, or Twitter. Are they finding your advice helpful? Then you have useful advice.

I got started in writing (via traditional publishing) that way, I was just helping people out in forums, writing articles and posts on my own site explaining things, I was the contacted by a publisher. Self publishing works in the same way. Don’t start on the book right away, start by writing some helpful posts - perhaps addressing things that you see people asking about here or on Twitter. That approach will work in two ways - it will help build up a following for you, but should also help to show that your advice is useful for people.

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I’ll just note that some of the popular niche programming books, about meteor, dart, etc. were written by programmers that didn’t know the technologies in question but decided to learn by writing a book. Sometimes you don’t have to be expert beforehand, if you do the proper research :slight_smile:

@avivby, very true. These books are better than the ones written by “experts”, as they don’t start with a lot of assumptions.

Get out of my brain!

In all seriousness though, it’s easy to understand that even someone who’s not the world’s foremost expert on a topic might still have a great deal to offer to a beginner or novice. I think the greatest fear I have and which is probably shared by many others is the fear of publishing something that’s demonstrably wrong - both because of the potential of leading those vulnerable beginners and novices astray, and more selfishly, because of the fear of being corrected in public and being found out as the fraud I always feared myself to be.

Amy Hoy wrote something awesome about mistakes in a recent email:

This is the murky fear of being judged by a powerful, faceless other.

Who doesn’t exist.

I’m not in middle school any more. Even if several people wrote me angry emails, what would that do to my launch? Absolutely nothing. They have no power to stop me, no power to shut me down, no power to derail my class. All they can do is write emails, and not buy. No individual customer (or even small group of customers) – or especially potential customer – holds that power over me… or you.

In short, what’s the worst that could really happen?

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Thanks Chris, that was very helpful. If this was SO, I would vote this as the best answer.