I write a lot. Between client work and my content, I tend to write around 15,000 words per week, sometimes more. But no matter how many articles I write, there’s still always a twinge of fear that comes right before I hit send or publish and put that content out into the world.
Faking confidence has become a way of life for me. Sometimes it works, and other times, I can hear myself telling the lies to make myself feel better. I try to stay positive about everything that I write and to maintain that I’m trying my best. So why is it that even when I KNOW, I’m trying my best, I always feel like it could be better.
I know the reason. It’s confidence.
The confidence is missing. Often, it’s nowhere to be found. When I write an article, as deep and meaningful or thoughtless and shallow it might be, a sense of dread always accompanies it. That dread gets stronger, the closer I get to the end of the article. The dread turns to fear, which turns to avoidance which manifests itself as me taking a few more hours (sometimes days) to re-read the content and “mull it over” to see if I can make it better.
I tell myself I’ll sleep on it and reread it tomorrow and see how I feel.
When I’m working on a client deadline, I’m able to get past the dread, because missing a deadline is more terrifying than turning in work that isn’t my best. But when it comes to publishing my work, on my platforms, tomorrow turns in to next week and then even more content remains unpublished. It’s an exhausting cycle but a process I’m working through one article at a time.
Fear #1: No one reads it
The title isn’t optimized. The content is too niche. The content is too broad. I could have used more keywords. For whatever reason, there are some articles that no just no one reads. They miss the mark. Maybe it’s a busy news day, or perhaps it’s just because it doesn’t stand out enough among the mass of other articles, but some articles just don’t get read.
When this happens, it’s kind of embarrassing. I feel shame that I can’t write something that even ONE person doesn’t want to read. I question why I chose the topic. I wonder if I’m not as relatable as I think I am. It feels like I’m just taking up space or that I showed up uninvited. Like I’m being ignored, and no one wants me here.
Fear #2: No one cares.
What’s worse than pouring your heart and soul into a piece of writing and having no one read it? People read and go, “meh.” It’s weird when you see engagement on an article but get no social proof or validation.
When I care about a topic a lot, and other people don’t care I as much I as do, it stings a little. I start to think that maybe it’s silly to care about something as much as I care about this one thing. I make me question my priorities and if I might not be as relatable as I think I am.
Sometimes when I write something for a client and I hear nothing, it’s almost worse than getting any feedback. On the one hand, I would like to know what I’m doing wrong. On the other hand, people are just busy and might not have the time or feel like reacting to it. There is a way more content on the internet than people can respond to, but it still leaves a void when I get zero validation from something I put out there.
Fear #3: People will use my words against me
Vulnerability is relatable. People love hearing things that went wrong for other people or how people are dealing with hard times because it makes them feel better about their situations. It makes them seem less alone in the world. But sometimes, people want to make you feel worse about your situation bu offering up unwarranted advice or straight up telling you you’re wrong. Like when I wrote an article about getting ghosted by a client and then one delightful woman commented on my article that I probably deserved it because I didn’t get my punctuation right.
I know trolls are just sad and are projecting their insecurities, but it’s not easy having your biggest fears thrown in your face like that and having someone tell you that it was a direct result of not being good enough that landed you in a particular situation.
What if a potential client sees this and thinks I’m weak or doesn’t agree with my opinion? Would I even want to work with them if they believe that? Am I too entitled by thinking I have the luxury of being that selective? What if I reveal a weakness and people capitalize on it?What if I say something wrong and offend someone?
Fear #4: I’m not a good writer
What if I’ve been fooling everyone this whole time. What if I’ve just skirted by tricking everyone into thinking I’m a real writer when I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe no one is reacting to my content because I’m not even a real writer and I’m just another entitled millennial babbling on the internet about how I’m scared and sad.
There’s always a fear that my straightforward and pragmatic style is just elementary. I’m afraid I’m writing too casually and not using enough metaphors or comparisons. My title is exactly describing the article, but I like the title. Will I be called out for not following AP Style or other arbitrary rules that only “real writers” would know? Can I be a “real” writer if I don’t write in a specific style? Have I been writing wrong my entire life?
What if something is misspelled even though I’ve run a spellcheck 15 times? What if I missed a comma and a prominent editor sees it and my credibility as a writer is ruined forever.
When the fear surfaces, you have a few options:
a) Give up, or b) Shake it off and keep writing.
Personally, giving up always seems like the more attractive option at the time. I could just pretend like I don’t even care about writing and that it was just some fun thing that I wanted to try to see how it went.
I could go through and delete all of the content that didn’t perform the way I wanted it too, and pretend as I’ve only ever published winners. I can act like I don’t even care about the numbers and that writing for the sake of writing is my true passion. But that would all be a lie. I would be lying if I said that metrics and stats don’t make me feel good when their high, and bad when they’re low. I would be lying if I said I didn’t need external validation to justify showing up every day and writing.
But even through all of the fear, I still do show up. I swallow my pride and need for validation and power through.
Because the fear eventually subsides, and you move on and create more.
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