Getting over the fact that people aren’t going to read your stuff
Everyone should read everything that I write and publish.
Have you ever had a similar thought? I know I have (and still do at times). The feeling that putting in the effort means the world owes you the recognition.
Unfortunately this just isn’t true. A long string of failed attempts have showed me, quite clearly, that putting something into the ether does not guarantee praise. I’ve started multiple blogs and newsletters in the past with dreams of running a successful publication that people flocked to by the thousands. They all failed.
It took me along time to really understand why my expectations of publication success weren’t being met. First, I blamed the readers, who clearly just didn’t understand and don’t get me. Then I blamed myself for being a terrible writer and storyteller. Finally, I blamed the idea itself for being a bad one. So I stopped creating new blogs and newsletters and focused on my other passion, marketing small businesses and helping them grow. I left the publication dreams to the “real writers” while my past pieces sat in digital exile, waiting for domain or hosting payments to expire, never to be renewed.
As it frequently is, the blame was misplaced. What was really keeping my writing projects and dreams on the sideline was fear. I was worried that I wasn’t good enough fear of failing turned my worries into reality. I really wasn’t good enough. Not because my writing or marketing or web design was so horrible that no one would ever enjoy them, I wasn’t good enough because I always stopped too early. I gave up. I made excuses instead of writing more and working through the kinks.
I was afraid of failing and let the lack of attention I thought the world owed me, keep me from getting any better.
Moving on from a project that wasn’t successful as quickly as I imagined it would be was safer and easier than putting in the extra work to get past the barrier. Quotes from famous investors of “knowing when to cut your losses” became reasons why it was okay to quit.
However, every time I used these excuses to let a project fail, there was a part of me that knew I wanted to create. That one day I would have to break free from the self inflicted oppression of writing and publish the thoughts and ideas that I wanted to share. If I was going to create things for others to see though, I knew I had to understand the fear behind the worry and look at ways to overcome it.
How to stop worrying about your writing
Once you’ve identified the real problem of why you stop pressing the publish button you can start moving past it.
First, you have to accept that the world doesn’t owe you anything. You know that you worked really hard on a piece but most people who are reading it are only seeing the end product. And as a consumer of media, they have every right to reject what you put out there. Worrying about how your piece is going to be received will always keep you afraid.
Then, you need to listen to this quote by Ira Glass. Your taste and your skillset are likely at different stages and only by putting in the work is your skillset ever going to catch up with your taste. It’s okay if your first hundred blogs don’t get the kind of attention you expected. As long as you keep going, you will start to get better.
Finally, you need to put in the work and learn to love the journey. You need to live through the low reader counts, and the posts with no claps, likes, or shares. You need to watch and not get frustrated when people write things that garner huge amounts of praise. Let that jealously fuel your next post. There are hundreds of thousands of written pieces being published every hour of every day, but that can’t stop you from creating.
A couple weeks ago, I finally started publishing again. The first blog got almost zero attention. And neither did the second. The third post actually made a blip but was quickly followed with two more duds. All of these posts were something I felt like I put all my effort into. They were topics of interest to me and I believe what I was writing was good. Alas, they didn’t really resonate with people. The normal worry and fear started creeping up again, but this time, I reminded myself why I was putting myself through the rigmarole of the creative process:
There is a desire in me to create. A desire, I believe, is inherit to all people. We are indirectly taught over the years that creating things which are not universally adored is wasted time. But writing and creating is enjoyable and an emotionally positive experience for me so I’m going to do it anyways.
There’s no telling whether or not my newest plight will succeed. The difference this time is that I’m not worried about it. The process of writing has become the journey and the destination. If people like what I write, there will of course be a dopamine injection that fuels a flurry of writing and ignites a desire to keep going.
But even if no one makes a fuss about this or any other particular post, the pieces will continue to be published because I no longer worry about the outcome and neither should you.