Words on a Page Writings about writing

On the fear of pressing the Publish button

WordPress Publish button

Over the last few months, I’ve been talking to and informally coaching a number of writers and bloggers. Which means I get asked a lot of questions.

One question that keeps coming up is How do you handle fear of publishing your writing online? My answer surprises them every time.

That answer? I don’t have that fear. At least, I don’t any longer. After 25+ years of writing professionally, that fear has been burned out of me.

You shouldn’t have that fear, either. You need to overcome it.

These days, everyone seems to believe that whatever they produce — whether it’s writing, code, art, whatever — must to be perfect before presenting it to the world. That what they produce perfectly shaped, polished, faceted, presented before sharing it with others.

That belief slows them down. That belief keeps a lot of people from sharing some good work with the world.

Most of what fuels that perfectionism paralysis (as someone once described it) is fear. Fear of criticism. Fear of rejection. Fear of popular opinion and negativity.

Guess what, kids? Not everything you produce will be great. It might not even be really good. It might just be OK. And you know what? That’s fine.

No matter what you do, you’re going to run into criticism (some of which will be valid). You’re going to run into snark. You might even be the target of some venom. You need to learn to ignore it.

Not everything you write will appeal to everyone. Not everyone will agree with it. Someone will trash what you write, regardless of how good or bad it is.

You’ve got to learn to ignore the majority of your critics. If you don’t, your words will be locked away. They’ll be of no use to anyone. You won’t improve as a writer.

Instead of stressing about whether or not your work is good enough, ask yourself a question: What’s the worst that can happen? Your family and friends won’t shun you. Your career won’t be ruined. You won’t be pelted with rotting vegetables whenever you’re walking to the local shops. Kids won’t stop in front of your house and laugh at you.

If what you publish isn’t your best work, look at why that is. Learn from the experience. Apply what you’ve learned to what you’re writing next. Make more mistakes. Rinse and repeat.

Hiding what you’ve written from the world won’t make you a better writer or blogger. Putting your work out there will. It’ll take time for you to conquer your fear and to improve, but the effort will be worth it.

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