6 Practical Tips to Help You Overcome Publishing Anxiety
Many writers share a similar goal to express their ideas, inspire people, and get recognized. If you’re starting your career as a writer, you probably have dreamed of getting requests from publishers and companies wanting your work. Only one small detail is holding you back - hitting that publish button.
Putting your work out there is challenging, it feels like exposing your raw naked soul to the world. No one enjoys being exposed to criticism, mocking, and judgment. Many great writers decide to keep their work for themselves, and we never get a chance to enjoy their creative achievements.
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Most common fears that might be holding you back:
I don’t have enough experience;
I wonder what others will think;
I’m afraid of criticism;
I’m afraid of ruining my name;
This language isn’t my mother tongue.
Most, if not all, fears are in your head. But regardless of your worries, publishing is the only way to share your creativity and get the results you’ve been dreaming of. Doubt comes from the way we see writing and our work. We put too much pressure on it to bring results, and if it doesn’t, we feel personally attacked or failed.
It’s normal to be afraid, but fear shouldn’t hold you back from attaining your goals and dreams. I’ve been there, trust me, and I want to share a few tips on what helped me to overcome my fears and get out of my head.
How to hit the publish button
Have a reasonable goal
Whether you’re a content writer, aspiring author, or copywriter, it’s essential to show your work to the world to get attention. Too often, the main thing to lead your way is the one thing that hinders your progress. Yes, it’s a goal. It’s common among creatives to set unreasonable goals that put too much pressure on the whole creative process.
Many writers want to be recognized and discovered from the moment they hit the publish button. Their goal is to get famous and earn tons of money, but the reality isn’t always positive. When you immediately don’t get the results you were looking for, you might get discouraged from continuing your work. That’s why it’s important to set smart goals, the ones that would bring value to the process and not to some far-away result.
In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about how many writers quit their work because of the pressure they put on themselves. Aspiring and already establish creators think that writing has to come through pain and self-destruction, and if that effort doesn’t pay off, they feel like they’ve failed.
But what she says is that as a writer, your goal shouldn’t be to become famous for writing, it’s to enjoy writing even though you never get recognized or paid for it. In other words, if you don’t do it for the sake of doing it, then you won’t succeed or at least won’t get as much satisfaction from the process itself.
Your first published work doesn’t have to be a 500-page novel. It can be as small as a social media post, an article, or a blog post on your own website. The most important part is to start and show yourself that you can. The good thing about starting small is that you aren’t risking anything. Who cares if someone didn’t like your blog post or it didn’t get enough likes? It’s just to break the ice and show yourself that you can hit that button.
Separate wheat from the chaff
If you’re looking seriously into the whole publishing and exposing your work thing, you should be prepared to receive some criticism and rejection. Whether it’s your ideas, style, or silly mistakes, people like to point things out. The important thing is to recognize valuable feedback from personal opinion.
If your clients, editors, or colleagues point out some mistakes and suggest improvements, it’s great free advice you can use to refine your work. But if you’re going to get upset over every “expert” out there, stop. People are entitled to their opinions and free speech. While you can’t stop them from expressing their thoughts, you can choose not to pay attention to them. Let them talk, but see it as their opinion, and opinions are just that.
Learn to learn from your mistakes
We talked about constructive and valuable criticism, now, let’s see how to use it for your own good. It’s challenging to see criticism as a chance to improve. It comes from me - a defensive person who can’t handle criticism. I know that about myself, and I try to control this feature not to lose my professionalism and learning opportunities.
If I get my article back from the editor full of red remarks, I give the information time to settle in. I try to answer a few simple questions to get the perspective: is it personal? is it better the way the editor says? how can I learn and improve?
Because you see, getting all defensive looks childish, and you block your mind from absorbing valuable information. My advice is to find your coping mechanism and learn to learn from criticism, and use it to your benefit.
Diversify your publishing
Like anything else, hitting the publish button can become your comfort zone. For a long time, I was afraid to publish my articles on Medium. I was terrified of the idea that my work might make me look stupid or that people would laugh at it. Nothing like that happened, and after I published my first article, the whole process became like a game.
I would write and couldn’t wait to hit publish. After some time, I’ve noticed that I needed to advertise my work to reach more readers. And my fear crept back in. I was, again, hesitant to publish my work on social media. Back then, I didn’t even have Instagram, so that you can imagine my social anxiety.
But I dared to create an account and publish my work. Even though the first attempts were amateur, I’ve grown with each post and found my way around social media. If you are anything like me in this situation, try to analyze your publishing comfort zone and find your next challenge. Publishing on different platforms and writing in multiple formats makes you a more versatile writer and helps you get comfortable with adverse situations.
Keep writing to keep improving
I’m not the first to say it, but clichés are clichés for a reason. The more you write and expose your work to constructive criticism, the more you learn and improve. It builds your style, diversifies your work, and forms strong language and communication skills. The same rule goes for publishing - the more you do it, the more comfortable you get around it.
Love your work and creativity to stick with it, and trust me, it will love you back. And maybe after some time, you will start seeing those goals you set in the first place.