Hitting Publish Is Not As Scary As You Think

So what’s stopping you from publishing your work?

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Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I have always loved writing. When I was a child, I enjoyed writing stories, songs and poems.

I loved writing that much I even decided to write up all the capital cities of the world into a notebook for future reference, despite the fact I already had a book with them all in!

If there was an excuse to write I found it.

Somewhere along the way, I misplaced my passion for writing. Maybe it was when my Dad bought me and my brother a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, I’m not sure.

All I know is that until I started studying to go to university, writing was not one of my passions or priorities. It wasn’t even a thought.

What rekindled my desire for writing was not what you might think. It wasn’t reading a book, although that did help, it was writing essays in school.

During my last two years of school, I wrote a lot of essays. A lot of my classmates saw this as a chore, one found it so boring he bought his essays on the internet instead of writing them himself!

Despite the negative opinions towards writing I enjoyed. I loved writing essays about historical subjects. I loved the research that came with it, and I loved receiving feedback on how I could improve my writing.

Of course, as a 16-year-old, it was not cool to admit I enjoyed writing. Egos are fragile at this age and mine was the same. Instead of potentially being mocked, I nodded my head in unison with my classmates about the mundanity of writing essays.

When I started writing online in 2015, these feelings reappeared. I enjoyed writing on my travel blog, but I was worried about what people might think.

I was worried I would suffer ridicule at the hands of my friends. I was scared they would think what I was writing about was pointless and stupid. Most of all, I was worried they would think my writing was rubbish.

Thankfully, I overcame this fear, published my work and embraced my love of writing. Hitting publish felt scary at the time, but it was the best thing I ever did.

Fear of Publishing

One of the biggest impediments to writing online is fear. This fear comes in many forms. Fear of rejection, fear of others mocking your work and fear of failure.

When I was starting, I suffered a combination of all three of these fears. I was afraid no one would read my work, I was afraid if my friends found my writing they would mock it, and I was afraid I might give up my rediscovered passion for writing.

None of my fears came to pass. People did read my work, even if it took a while for it to gain traction. Instead of mocking my writing, my friends praised me for it.

Fear is scary, most of us don’t being afraid. When we are faced with fear, it’s commonplace to give into it and not go through with our plans. However, we need to step back and ask we are afraid in the first place.

Fear always has a reason. It does come on randomly. We place ourselves in situations, and when it comes to the crunch on a difficult decision, fear rises inside us.

I felt this a lot when I started writing. The process of writing was enjoyable and fulfilling, but once that was done, I was left facing the publish button. It was akin to a Mexican standoff.

I stared at the button, it stared straight back at me.

Thoughts were racing through my mind. Should I publish this? What if my friends see it? I don’t know whether it’s any good or not!

The publish button wasn’t going to press itself. It just stared back at me, unblinking and stoic. I began to question why I was afraid, why am I feeling this way now?

It was because this was something I wanted to do, but I was worried about what others would think of it. Yet, I was too afraid to find out what they actually thought of my work by refusing to publish it.

I was letting fear hold me captive. Eventually, I came to the realisation that I had to go through with it. People may like my work, they may not, but that is no excuse not to publish it.

Fear is a sign that you should go ahead and take the plunge. We are all afraid when we are on the precipice of big decisions. They are big and a break from the norm. They represent change, and we don’t know whether that change will be good or not.

Better to remain the warm embrace of familiarity than to seek out unfamiliar territory.

However, that is not where I want to be. I want to stride outside my comfort zone and face don my fears and overcome them.

Writing is not writing if you can’t bring yourself to publish.

The Takeaway

Writing online can be a daunting prospect. You have no way of knowing whether your work will take off, will be ridiculed, or read at all.

You can pour your heart and soul into a piece but get next to no views. This is demoralising, I’m not going to a lie. But publishing your work is not as scary as you might think.

Once you get over the fear of publishing, you’ll realise most of your fears or expectations were unfounded. The simple fact is we have no way of knowing what the response to our work will be.

I never thought an article I wrote about observing the way I and others speak would receive over 48,000 views, but it has. I wrote it with minimal expectations and it has exceeded all of them.

Our fears are projections of a reality that is imagined and may not even come to pass. They are forecasts of a worst-case scenario, they are not guarantees of what the future holds.

I still those pangs of fear when I write a certain piece. It’s natural, I’m only human. Even after writing hundreds of articles, I’m still afraid to bare my soul and thoughts to a larger audience.

The difference is that now I realise is that none of it matters. I love writing, I don’t want to stop anytime soon. I don’t want to give in to negative thoughts and let them win.

I don’t know what will happen when I hit publish and instead of being afraid of this, it’s best to embrace it. Yes, it’s scary, but it can also be liberating.

Maybe someone will hate the article, but there is also the chance that someone will love it. Maybe, someone will love it so much, it impacts their life. Maybe, my work will get recognised by an authority or a large number of people.

These are possibilities are as possible as negative outcomes. If I don’t publish, I don’t know. I don’t test myself and if I don’t test myself I don’t improve.

Fear is a powerful force, it can overcome you, it can hinder you, but if you tame the beast, it can be a powerful ally.

Publishing is scary, but that’s why you must do it.

Written by

I like to write. I like to travel. https://www.thetravellingtom.com Join my email list -> https://tomstevenson.substack.com/

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