In my experience, there are five stages of anxiety with regard to how you feel about any particular task you’ve taken on.
1) Complete Newb: Can I even do this at all?
2) Novice: OK, I can do this, but will I ever be any good at it?
3) Journeyman: I’m pretty good at it, I think, but will I ever get to the stage where I’m not worrying about how good I am?
4) Professional: How good is my project?
5) Master: How do I keep from being a dick?
I can’t say I’ve ever reached Master status at anything, so I’m only guessing about the Master’s anxiety. I have, however, become a professional programmer, and I plan to become a professional writer.
I went through the first three stages while I was learning to program and trying to become a professional. Those stages were horrid. I hated them. You feel like a child, to some degree, all the way through.
Once I became a professional, once I proved to myself I could produce and produce well, the fears that dominate the first three stages fell away. Oh, you still wonder on occasion if you’re a fraud. You still have to learn and get better, but it’s no longer your primary fear during the day. Your primary concern morphs from yourself to concern about your current project, and you just sit down and do the job.
I’m going through the same progression as a writer, and I hate it. But this time, since I know what I went through to become a programmer, I can look back and compare the two and see the progression. I know what’s coming, even if I’m not sure when. I can tell myself to stop worrying and just work, that at some point, after I’ve sold enough of my writing, that the fear of being an utter failure will fall away, to be replaced only by concerns of the current project.
I can’t wait until I get there, because no matter how often I tell myself to stop worrying and just work on it, I still worry.