I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that they know they ‘should’ start a blog / build a website / write a book, but they don’t have time / don’t know what to write / need to do some research first.
Dig a little deeper, and what almost always comes out is fear.
Fear that what they write won’t be perfect.
Fear that what they write will be dull.
Fear that what they write won’t be as funny / insightful / poetic / wise as X’s.
Fear of making themselves ‘public’ and therefore vulnerable.
Fear that they will be ‘discovered’ as a ‘fraud’.
These fears often lead to procrastination, excuse making and staring desperately at a blank screen.
Yet without exception, these people have something to say. They have something to share with the world about their knowledge, their experiences, or their heart-led business. They are authentic, enthusiastic and driven. These people can talk with passion on their chosen subject for hours, if given the opportunity. But the thought of writing about it has them closing up like an anemone.
Here’s my 7-point prescription for the pain:
1. To borrow from Nike, ‘Just Do It’. Write, and write regularly. Don’t wait for the urge to write – it won’t come unless you get into the discipline of having a regular deadline or dedicated writing time. I needed this medicine myself, having been an erratic writer for several years. Having a weekly deadline for my newspaper column spurs me into action every Friday, so I decided to set myself a deadline for my blog too. My posts now come out every Thursday. Hold me to it! Set yourself a similar regular deadline, and make yourself accountable (you can commit in the comments if you’d like to). See what happens and let me know.
2. Don’t spend more time talking about writing or reading about writing than you spend actually writing. This feeds the inner perfectionist, which makes the procrastination even worse.
3. Think of your blog, website or book as your love letter to the world. You are sharing your passion with readers who will be inspired, helped or informed by what you write. So don’t hold back this gift to them. Your experiences and thoughts, shared from the heart, are what make you and your writing unique.
4. If you are worried about feeling exposed to millions on the internet, console yourself with the fact that there are many, many marketing gurus out there who make their money out of helping people to get their message noticed online. There’s a reason for this – the web is a huge place with a lot of voices to listen to. Yes, your words will be available to all, but you will probably find that not that many people read them at first. This may be frustrating to you soon enough, but for now, see it as an opportunity to get comfortable with the potential exposure and to hone your writing skills and confidence.
5. You may have a favourite writer whose work you admire hugely (my current writer crushes are Alexandra Franzen and Viv Groskop) and it’s very common to feel envious of their style, humour or wisdom. But you are you. You are not doing karaoke. You sing your own song, even if it is influenced by others, so belt it out like a diva.
6. There are writers who spend whole days to craft a single sentence. That’s fabulous if you’re writing great literature, but for the average blog writer with a business to run and a family to feed, it’s unrealistic. Your writing won’t be perfect – get over it. It is better to send a beautiful message imperfectly written into the world than to have it sitting on your desktop, fussed over and unable to inspire others. Writing regularly will improve your skills quickly, make the whole process a lot easier, and get you closer to perfect with each post.
7. My motto is Check It; Check In With It; Send It. Checking it means proofreading, reading your work out loud, getting someone else (a trusted friend or colleague, or me) to read it, and editing where necessary. Checking in with it means making sure that it really reflects your values and voice – does it feel right? Ideally, then leave it a day before checking it and checking in with it again. Then take a deep breath and press the ‘publish’ button. If your perfectionist gremlin is still grumbling, remember that, in the case of blog posts and websites, things are easily and instantly changed if you do find a mistake later on.
In short, just write, write and write some more. I feel your pain. But it gets much easier – I promise.
Still scared? Let’s chat. I’d like to help.