The irrationality of writers

Why I’m scared of publishing my thoughts

I follow a bunch of writers online and I love reading the interesting essays and posts that pour into my RSS reader every day. I respect these people and often find myself a little in awe of them. This has led me to want to write. I regularly have ideas for interesting posts but invariably I hesitate: What if I’m completely and utterly wrong? What if I embarrass myself? And I stop in my tracks…

I don’t think I’m alone here.

This is completely irrational for a number of reasons, and I’m publishing this both as a note that I can go back to and hopefully one which will serve others.

Won’t I be judged?

Yes. Yes you will. But asking that question shows that you care about the quality of your writing.That’s good.

I often fall into the trap of thinking that if I write something that isn’t particularly insightful, my (non-existant) reader base will add me to their mental list of idiotic writers. The truth is, that only happens to a select few Daily Mail columnists, everyone else gets forgotten.

The point is that for people like (you? and) me who are only just starting out writing online, you don’t have an audience, and you don’t have a reputation.So if the first few posts aren’t good but aren’t deeply offensive, that probably won’t harm you.If they are anywhere near good, that will probably work in your favour.

What if I’m wrong?

My opinion is that in most things we do, being wrong is okay on the following conditions:

  1. You start out trying to be right, and you devote enough rational thought and energy to at least convince yourself.
  2. You are open to criticism and willing to change your position in the light of new information.

Under these conditions, expressing your unique view on a particular matter is useful to the community as a whole. As I saw @dunn say recently, “The dialectic is where people learn”.

This really is the most wonderful thing about the internet. It is an open forum for discussion. With the right attitude, all participants gain.

I just need to make a few more tweaks…

As I’m writing this I keep thinking about how I might make this post a little better. Is there a better sentence construction? Should I structure the whole thing in a different way?

Really, all of that is marginal. The most important thing is the message.

If it’s 80% there, run with it, get feedback (which is easy online) and learn from it.

I’m hitting publish now, for the first time in a long time. And I’m looking forward to being judged…

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