How To Get Over The Crippling Fear Of Putting Your Work Out There
I came to a realization the other day.
I have absolutely no fear of putting my words out there for everybody to see.
However, that’s not what people from my course tell me.
The people who take my course are scared. They’re terrified, actually, of showing anybody ANYTHING they wrote.
They have no problem writing words like Shakespeare — it’s just the publishing part that’s crippling.
It’s not everybody, but it’s a good portion.
I have to admit, writing about this feels funny. I feel no fear to publish anymore. I haven’t felt FOP (fear of publishing) for a while.
But I can remember when I did. Back before I had 10 followers, much less a thousand. Ahh, those were the days.
Here’s how to get over the crippling fear of putting your work out there..
Nobody Cares What You’re Writing (Yet)
Sheesh, what a way to start out.
But this is the truth.
Nobody cares about what you’re writing, except for the VERY few people that do. I can only guess you’re scared of the haters, right?
You don’t want someone blowing you up like the Facebook trolls do. That’s the LAST thing you need after mortgage payments, a full-time job, and other responsibilities bearing down on you.
But here’s the thing: People don’t care half as much as you think they do.
What you do is unknown to them.
Humans have an insane capacity to overestimate how much attention we really get. Just how much, you might ask?
Here’s an excerpt from an article on Psychology Today that outlines something crazy called the “Spotlight Effect”..
In their first two studies, they had participants put on a shirt with a big picture of someone’s face on it and then walk briefly into a room filled with students sitting at a table facing the door.
After each participant left the room, he or she was asked to estimate how many people in the room would be able to remember who was on their t-shirt, while the observers in the room were asked if they could remember who had been on the shirt. This was all done under the guise of it being a “study on memory.”
What did they find? In the first study participants drastically overestimated how many people would remember that Barry Manilow (a face they were embarrassed to wear) had been prominently featured on their shirt.
And guys, this is true for pretty much everything in life.
The internet just doesn’t care yet. Publishing your article is NOT like the beginning of Lion King where every animal in the land flocked to pride rock to see the unveiling of Simba.
You’ll get a few people that’ll turn their heads and take a look, but for the most part, nobody cares.
To put it in even MORE perspective, the hater-to-fan ratio on your articles is VERY small. For every 100 fans or so, you’re bound to get maybe 1 hater.
And when you’re just starting out, good luck getting 100 fans on an article. It’s tough. I didn’t see haters for months.
This small realization should make hitting the publish button easier.
0 Views Does Not Mean You’re A Bad Writer
I think 90% of FOP actually comes down to fear of FAILURE, not publishing.
We are such delicate creatures. Again, the last thing we need in a world of abundant stress is to feel like our thoughts don’t matter.
That’s like a UFC fighter hitting somebody after they’ve already been knocked out.
We don’t need that. Nobody needs that, right?
Wrong. We do need it. But the thing is, 0 views doesn’t mean what you think it does.
Say it with me: “0 views does NOT mean I’m a bad writer.”
I’ve written this before and I’ll write it again..
30 views on your article is a miracle. Medium makes it so easy to accomplish this feat. In the meantime, let’s stop expecting so much from our words. This ties directly into the first point, too.
We overestimate how much damage our words can actually do — good AND bad.
Guys, you’re not going to go viral after you publish your first post.
Not even after your 10th post.
This doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, though. So much of success in the content game boils down to headlines, sub-headlines, luck, platforms, and emotion.
When you have a perfect storm of all that, then you start really succeeding.
But when you’re first starting out you have no platform to speak of. You have to build it. And in order to build it, you have to write a lot of GREAT pieces that get hardly any attention at all.
Just because your article got 0 views does not mean it’s bad. Give yourself permission to publish 0 view articles. It’s okay. You have to get through them to get to the 1,000 view articles.
Vulnerability Is A Strength, Not A Weakness
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami
Ahh, here’s (probably) the biggest reason most of us don’t hit publish..
We’re afraid of showing vulnerability to people.
Let me tell you a quick story.
Back in December of 2015 I was so scared to publish a certain story. I can’t really remember what it was about, but I know I felt crippling fear because I was being vulnerable.
It’s not socially acceptable yet for men to be SUPER open about their emotions — at least not where I live.
Every man I know from here never really talks about stuff they’re afraid of, sad about, etc.
We just talk about football.
So for me to publish a story where I was extra vulnerable felt weird. But I did it anyway. Somewhere inside I knew it was the right thing to do.
That night I received a message from a girl I had only talked with a handful of times in high school. She said she read my post, loved it, and that she LOVED reading my articles in general.
“WHAT?” I thought.
I never even knew ANYBODY was reading at that point.
But they were. Just because they’re not TELLING you they’re reading doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Think about it, how many bloggers/websites do you read? How often have you told the owners of those sites you loved reading? Probably not too often!
I learned that day that vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
Writers have this amazing gift. We say what everybody else is afraid to say.
You’re not weird for being vulnerable, or conveying emotion, because deep down we all feel these things.
Even the men here in Bel Air, MD who only talk about football feel emotions and fear.
The difference is you’re choosing to put that in words. You’ve now become a voice for those who don’t have the strength to be vulnerable themselves.
And they will love you for it.
Being vulnerable is hard. I understand it’s difficult — and I’m not knocking anybody who can’t muster the strength to be more vulnerable right now.
BUT, think of all the people who may be able to relate if you choose to be more vulnerable. Think of how they’ll feel less lonely in this big, strange world.
Think of all the good that’ll do.
The truth is you are doing something incredible and courageous when publishing your vulnerabilities. There’s not much that’s more courageous, actually.
It’s not just another article. It’s a message that’s bound to dramatically impact someone who feels the same in a positive way.
Not many people think about writing this way, but they should.
And when they do, I imagine it’ll be so much easier to hit the publish button in the first place.
Cheers to you all, and Happy New Year!
Want to get started writing online? I actually have a free 5-day email course called “Your First 1,000 Medium Followers” that will teach you how to build an audience here on Medium! Sign up for it right here. I’d love to teach you a couple things.