How I Got Over My Fear of Writing and Publishing on the Internet
It may strike you as silly that I am writing this piece at all. I do not have millions of followers and I have never written a best selling novel. I can not even report that I am as successful at writing as I hope to be someday. But I have learned a few things that I wish I had known at the beginning that is worth sharing. Sans the fancy and stupidly expensive courses with fun, perky, wildly successful travel bloggers.
Keep a notebook with you at all times.
I have a traditional, spiral-bound notebook for leaving at home and a smaller one that I leave in the car and drop into my bag.
I know it’s an “old-school” tip, even for my millennial self. But, if you have a creative and slightly over-active brain like me, the physical act of writing down your ideas can help you commit them to memory and have a notebook(s) full of content ideas.
This works for both writing and helping me get over the fear of publishing by allowing me to jot down ideas as they come and then let them sit in the notebook. That way I have time to think and build out each piece without sitting in front of my computer for hours, only to get up later feeling defeated.
Write for yourself.
There are times to tailor pieces to suit a niche but most often, writing is only sustainable if you are doing it for the express purpose of you. As in, you love writing, language, etc.
Writing for yourself ensures several pivotal things. The best pieces come from personal experience and are laced with passion. Two: having passionate personal experience makes writing less of a chore. Three: passionate personal experience means you have first-hand knowledge of what you are writing, therefore making it much easier to stand by whatever you are writing when the internet critics come. And they will come for you.
Why does that matter? Because internet trolls are everywhere and sometimes they can get in your head. Make you feel like you should quit, that you aren’t enough in some way. Trust me when I say that skipping out on this part is absolutely in your best interest. So, write for you and nobody else.
Try publishing under a penname.
I did not do this but looking back at the beginning, I probably should have. At least to a degree.
In the beginning, I just launched a hobby blog in the aftermath of the death of my newborn son. Aided by ultra numbing antidepressant meds, I really went for it. Sharing poetry and extremely personal emotions. I don’t regret it now, but I didn’t start that project with the intention of ending up here: in my thirties and completely starting over career-wise. Though I have learned to roll with that, plus the following I built in the process, there was many, many weeks that I doubted myself, deeply. Internet trolls definitely came for me as I spouted my very non-conventional feelings and thoughts on grief, loss, religion, and everything in between.
Because of that, I had a crash course in getting over the fear of publishing on the internet. Turns out, letting go of your life long faith publicly (and for infant and child loss magazines, no less), really brings out the criticism. Eventually, it became much easier for me to disconnect from the criticism but it took time.
I highly doubt any of that is your experience so I suggest, using a pen name first. Dip your toes in the water. See how it goes and how you feel about it, first.
Start a social media account specifically for writing.
Mine started out as a blog Facebook page and eventually transitioned, as did my blog, to an author platform. I also did this on Instagram. Beginner levels of services like Linktree for a solidified platform for links to all of your writings and Canva for basic graphic creation are free.
Schedule writing time for yourself.
This will likely come as a no surprise tip, especially considering that many famous authors like Stephen King do this.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical of this one. Believing that creativity will strike when it will strike. That is true in a lot of cases. The reality is though that like any good skill, it must be crafted and cultivated.
Even if you do not publish everything, set a word count goal, and pick a time during your daily routine that works best. Then go for it. Play around with these variables until you can fully hammer out a system that works best for you.
Cultivate your space.
As with all the articles that have come out in 2020 for how important it is to have a dedicated work from home space, the same is true for writing as well.
For me, my “office space” is downstairs and shares the living room. I have soft lighting and often keep the TV playing in the background. It works for me. Find what works best for you here.
The more comfortable you are in your dedicated space, the more trained your brain will become to associate this space, this dedicated time to writing. That’s how all habits are built and maintained.
Despite what many a Google search will tell you about the courses you need to sign up for, you don’t have to do that. Trial and error are still the most useful tools for learning regardless of how “outdated” they may seem. Sure, there are tons of other articles about utilizing Trello, SEO courses, etc. And they are all valid and useful courses of action. But, I think there’s a lot to be gleaned from going back to the basics, too.
Utilizing all of these tips are what helped me get over my fear of pursuing writing and especially of publishing. The common theme here is to build your confidence by building a routine and space. Write for yourself and do it often.