Peer Fear is the Mind-Killer!


The fear of failure stops many people creating. But there are ways to still their trembling hand and better yet they may already be doing lots of creative things without realising. So, how can you help a potential artist over the final few hurdles to sharing their work?

This story starts in a conversation with a writer friend of mine. We were talking about his currently stalled book, and then drifted onto my own novel. This is a novel I’ve been writing for five years. A novel of which I have written four hundred words. Right now I’m not even sure where those four hundred words are.

Why such a poor effort? Well, truth be told I don’t want to write a bad book. What I should do is sit and write and for better or worse get it out of my system so I can move onto the next, better novel. What I do instead is distract myself with drawings or graphics design and perpetually postpone the work of writing. 

I would love to recount a pivotal preschool story that neatly sums up where this fear comes from, but I can’t remember anything specific. Suffice to say we all gain pleasure form the recognition of our peers and therefore dislike an absence of recognition or even worse derision. At some point we realise that pastime X does not evoke the same lovely praise as pastime Y, so we simply cut back on and eventually stop X. This feedback loop is active throughout our lives, narrowing what we try and altering what we feel capable of. We all draw and sing and take part in plays as kids but very few continue once we have left school. In fact I suspect many of us have our horizons so narrowed that we spend much our time wondering what exactly we are good at. Drinking or watching HBO box sets tends to be a common answer.


So. What can developers do to encourage people to overcome peer-fear. What can they do to lower the essentially self-imposed barriers people place around themselves, and encourage them to share their creative side? 

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