Even When You Don’t Think It’s Good Enough
I’m a wuss. There, I said it. I don’t publish nearly as much as I write. I suffer from imposter syndrome and publisher block. Nobody is going to want to read my stuff, I tell myself. Who do I even think I am, anyway? Right?
If you want to succeed at being a writer, you absolutely must publish. No joke. Here’s what you miss out on if you don’t.
“But ‘why then publish?’ There are no rewards
Of fame or profit when the world grows weary.
I ask in turn why do you play at cards?
Why drink? Why read? To make some hour less dreary.
It occupies me to turn back regards
On what I’ve seen or pondered, sad or cheery,
And what I write I cast upon the stream
To swim or sink. I have had at least my dream.”
― Lord Byron, Don Juan
If you deny your audience your work, you deny yourself essential feedback. How do you ever hope to improve your writing without feedback? How will you know what your readers react best to and what they would like to read from you if not for their comments?
Perhaps your work has received no feedback yet and you are feeling disheartened. Add a call-to-action to your article next time you post. Involve your reader. Ask them direct questions. Ask for input, additions to your words. Be brave: ask for your readers’ approval, their opinions. They are invaluable to your writing progression.
Practice makes perfect, it is said, and for good reason. Holding on to your words, editing the soul out of them, will not help you. Don’t overthink your work — it’s not rocket science. Are you satisfied with what you wrote? Have you read your work out loud? Have you copy-pasted it into a good spelling- and grammar checker like Grammarly of ProWritingAid (personally, I can’t do without the latter anymore)? Have you laid it to rest and read it again the next day with fresh eyes?
Then, by all means, set it free! Release your work into your readers’ world (and hope for the best).
Repeating this process repeatedly will improve your writing.
Accomplished authors have said it many times: write regularly — daily if you can.
I have the following addition: you don’t have to write volumes. Don’t restrict yourself to a certain word quota. In my opinion, even if you have only managed one sentence, you have been writing that day. Your contribution of the day could just as well be a little gem of a haiku as a long read, a fictional story, or a journal entry. I say, it matters not. Just as long as you’re writing.
If you do feel you need more words, you might try a writing exercise like Morning Pages, which is a great way to get rid of excess baggage from your head. Reading what you wrote may uncover some hidden pearls you can (re)use later.
Gather a following
There is something deeply satisfying and a little exhilarating about clicking that publish button and seeing your work appear online — YOUR work! Right there, for everybody to read and comment on. Yes, that’s a scary thought. I’ll be the first to admit that. And you will at some point receive comments you may not like. People may not understand you at first. But just as long as you keep writing and putting your work out there, you will gather a following. Readers will understand you better when you dare to share more with them. They will provide you with invaluable feedback you need to grow as a writer — which, ultimately, is what it is all about: becoming the best writer you can be.
If imposter syndrome is what ails you, the only cure is… publishing more! Publishing regularly confirms that you are a writer. Your body of work is growing with every post. At some point, you can even link them together, so your readers may discover more easily exactly what is the common thread that ties your work together. Having found that, they may be more inclined to share your work and your following will grow. Before long, more readers will subscribe to you — now there’s a confidence booster! Keep at it and at some point your readers will even start looking forward to your latest posts.
“What you’re actually doing is advertising. You’re reaching more people, you’re raising awareness. Understanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and of what the web was doing. Because the biggest thing the web is doing is allowing people to hear things. Allowing people to read things. Allowing people to see things that they would never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.”
― Neil Gaiman
Get over that hump, hit publish — and surprise yourself.
This post was originally published on Medium in my publication Hearts in the Write Place on April 22, 2022.