Fear of Ridicule

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Tom Evans

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Drama and comedyI am sure you can imagine that the fear of being ridiculed is something we can pick up at school.

For example, there was once a seven year old boy who was given the part of Jesus in the school nativity play, just because he was top of the class academically.

When it was clear his acting abilities weren’t up to it, he was demoted to the role of an innkeeper. He was not even able to get his one line right of, “There’s no room at the inn”.

As a result, he ended up on the back row of the chorus, as an angel without any wings.

Fear of Public Speaking

This type of experience might sound comical but it can lead later in life to a fear of public speaking. Nobody wants to be made a fool or, or receive a bad review, so we avoid sticking our head above the parapet. The best and simplest way by far to avoid being ridiculed is not to perform in the first place.

Signs that this fear is in operation is when we find ourselves procrastinating and being a ‘busy fool’. If you have a pile of half finished manuscripts, that’s a sign the fear of being made a fool of is lurking somewhere.

If we can clearly associate our fears with childhood instances, we can rationalise and come to terms with them. For more acute cases, one or two therapeutic regression sessions will alleviate the issue.

Adopt a Nom de Plume

In these wired days, one simple way around this fear is to adopt a ’nom de plume’. There are many reasons a writer might justifiably want to protect their identity. They they might be writing erotica. They might be writing about trauma or abuse and want to protect themselves or other protagonists who might still be alive. They might have a career (or other brand) to protect.

If you harbour this fear and want to get over it, the Internet is a great place to flex your creative muscles and gather feedback for your work.

By publishing our work as e-books, blogs, podcasts or videos, we can gain confidence and gather a following at the same time. Slowly we can discover a world which is not out to get us but actually celebrates and welcomes our output. Sites like Goodreads are awash with keen readers and organisations like the Alliance of Independent Authors are full of mutually supportive writers.

Eventually we may wake up one day, perhaps after having received enough four or five star reviews, and we find confidence in our voice.

If any residual fear of ridicule does linger, it can be actually beneficial. It pays dividends to check any new work with sample readers before sharing it with the world. Many of the chapters of my books start as short stories, poems or blogs where I am exploring a new theme or meme. If people like it or comment on it, this is a sign that it merits expansion.

So the best way to deal with this fear is to take baby steps and put your head slowly above that parapet. Keep writing, keep sharing, keep testing and one day we will find ourselves able to stand proudly and shout from the rooftops.

P.S. have you guessed who that 7 year old boy is?

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