How many people have that spark of inspiration but smother it before they even put the first word on paper? How many more work almost all the way to the finish line only to hold back at the last minute?
Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. Maybe even fear of success. So many fears creep up when we’re about to put our writing out there into the world.
Thankfully, there are ways to conquer these fear. Well, “conquer” might be too strong a word. Let’s say “manage.” Many successful writers have developed skills that help them manage their anxieties around publishing.
Leo Babauta, in an article called “How to Put Your Writing in Public,” has written about his process for moving through these common fears.
Check out the full article for all the details and context. But I’ll summarize below:
1. Write for one person. There’s no use writing with an imaginary audience of thousands in mind. That’d get confusing pretty quickly. Instead, write as if you’re having a conversation with a single person (a friend, a family member, a specific reader, etc.).
2. Start with a small audience. This advice is particularly helpful if you’re blogging or publishing new content regularly. If you start with a small readership, you’ll be more comfortable and can build your skills quietly. As your audience grows, so will your confidence.
3. Forget about perfection. There’s no such thing as perfect. One man’s trash is another man’s masterpiece. As Leo says, “if you accept that there will be some things you do that are good, and others that are less than good, and that’s part of being a human … you can embrace a wider range of possibilities. You don’t have to hit a home run with every swing.”
4. Be motivated by learning. Be prepared to make mistakes. Then learn from them. Improve. Repeat.
5. Be motivated by helping. If you know that what you have to say can help someone, it’s riskier NOT to publish. Your writing is needed out there in the world.
Leo summarizes his advice with this:
Writing is transformative. It changes you, and the reader. You get feedback from the reader and learn from them. You get accountability and you have to reflect on what you’re learning. You become greater from the attempt to overcome the fear.
How have you overcome your fear of publishing? Is there a mindset, a trick, or challenge that works for you? Let us know in the comments below.
[Fish and boat picture from Shutterstock.]