The Fear Gang

From an excellent article by Merlin Mann on procrastination and blocks to creativity.


Think about something you’ve been really excited to make or do.3 Maybe something you’ve been thinking about starting for weeks, months, or even years. Dance lessons? Short story? Web comic? MAME cabinet? Tree house? Doomsday laser? Excel spreadsheet?4 What stops you?

Remember now, we’re not talking about finishing a project or even making something that you know will be the greatest thing ever made. Just starting. What’s the barrier for you?

Well, at least in my experience, if you’re honest enough to push past those sensible, well-worn consolations of generalized procrastination and unrelenting “busy-ness,” you’ll discover how many hang-ups trace back to some dumb, shameful fear. Yeah, I know. Crazy hippie talk, right? Still.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Fear of Apathy. “I can’t start this until I’m positive the work will never become dull or difficult.”5

  • Fear of Ambiguity. “I can’t start this until I know exactly how it will turn out (as well as the precise method by which I’ll do it).”

  • Fear of Disconnection. “I can’t start this until I’m totally up-to-date and current on everything.”

  • Fear of Imperfection. “I can’t start this until I know the end product will be flawless.”

  • Fear of Incompletion. “I can’t start this until I’m already done with it.”

  • Fear of Isolation. “I can’t start this until I know making it will never be lonely.”

  • Fear of Sucking. “I can’t start this until I’m already awesome at it (and know that even horrible people whom I dislike will hail me as a genius).”

  • Fear of Fear itself. “I can’t start this until I’m guaranteed that making it will never be scary.”


The whole article.

1 thought on “The Fear Gang”

  1. Many thanks for this great article Norman. I encounter all of those fears every single day I sit down at the computer to work. Somehow you have get the door as shut as you can on these ravening hordes.I find it hard to block them out entirely though.

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