How to Get Over the Fear of Writing and Publishing
“The brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them—glory and danger alike—and, notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”
—Leopold (Hugh Jackman), Kate and Leopold
It takes a certain amount of bravery to be a professional writer or book author. It isn’t the act of writing itself that feels dangerous. You can write in your journal all day and end up feeling refreshed and lighter for having been so honest with yourself. The security of knowing no one will ever read those words liberates your fingers to fly.
Danger isn’t inherent with the penning, but the publishing.
“How do you get over the fear of putting yourself out there?” I’ve lost count of the times clients and fellow writers have asked me this question.
The truth is, you don’t get over the fear. Ever. You push past it, use it and ignore its nagging voice. As Susan Jeffers wrote in her famous and very helpful book, you Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
Pushing Past Fear
You’re sitting at your computer, waiting for words to drop into your brain and run down through your fingertips and onto the page. But Fear crouches, watching for those words to appear. A thought comes to mind and, just as your fingers start to twitch, Fear jumps up, snatches hold of the idea and whispers, “Nah, that’s not good enough.”
“Yeah,” you think, “You’re right. Everyone’s already read that.”
So you wait until the next idea begins to bubble up. Fear poises to steal this one, too.
But you have a choice: You can let fear move in, or you can just start typing. Typing, even if the words are imperfect, is akin to muscling your way past the defense toward the goal line. It’s the only way to get the words on paper. Don’t allow fear to stall your progress. Remember, there’s no danger in the penning… or typing. Push past fear and let the words flow. You can always perfect them later.
I recently finished a manuscript for a ghostwriting project. It has been an exciting project—and one that’s tested every ounce of my courage. As I pushed past Fear, it said things like:
“That’s old news.”
“You need a more original idea.”
“Do you really think you know enough to write about that?”
“Right. I’ll find some new research on that topic.”
“Yep. I’ll craft a more interesting intro for that section.”
“No, I don’t know enough… but I can learn more. Plus, I’m not writing a doctoral thesis. I don’t need to know everything about this particular subject to help people with my words.”
Using Fear’s negative comments, I worked to craft a better book. You can do the same with your writing. If Fear pops up and says, “Everyone’s heard that before,” respond by:
• Drawing on your personal experience and knowledge to address the topic.
• Bringing a new perspective to the issue.
• Integrating current news or little-known stories from history to illustrate a point.
Use Fear to improve your content. Then, keep typing.
After I’d all but exhausted myself (Writing is hard work!), I faced the final, most difficult challenge: Sending my carefully crafted words to my client. Every few days or so, I submitted a completed chapter for feedback. You, I’m sure, can imagine some of the lines Fear served up then.
“They’re going to hate it.”
“They’ll say it’s not good/substantial/important enough.”
“They’ll going to tell me it’s crap.”
You’d think after getting positive feedback on the first few chapters, it would have gotten easier and those doubts would have subsided. They didn’t. Every single time I hit “send” with a chapter attached, Fear laughed at me. So, I did the only thing I knew to do: Ignore Fear and submit the work.
What else can you do? If you want to be a published author or want to make a difference with your words through your blog, sooner or later you have to hit “send” or “publish.”
Despite what Fear may be telling you, the world needs your voice, your words, your expertise. It’s okay to acknowledge Fear. Just don’t let it stop you.
What fears have kept you from sharing your writing? How are you pushing past or using those fears? Leave a comment below!
Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net