Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

Five Things that Stop You from Sharing Your Work (and the dead-simple solutions to all of them)

Note: This is a guest post by Christine Niles. She likes to make up stories before the crack of dawn, and she works with authors to publish and launch books by the light of day. Christine helps determined writers take their next step at www.writersnextstep.com. Follow her on Twitter @croyseniles.

You’ve felt it, haven’t you?

It starts as a tremble in your fingers. Maybe you feel a funny little flutter below your stomach. But then as you hover over the Publish button, you just can’t click.

Fear of finishing.

fear-of-finishing

You’re not alone — we all feel it.

I talked with a bestselling author recently who was still fearful of calling his latest book done. He wanted to waffle and tweak. To get more opinions. To keep editing.

Even the most veteran writers (at least the honest ones) admit a twinge of fear each time they hit “Send” on a new piece.

It’s normal.

And really, if you’re not a little afraid, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. (We’ll get back to that in a little bit)

But fear isn’t the only thing that stops us. Here are four more things that get in every writer’s way from time to time, and the practical tricks to kick all of them to the curb.

1. Money

Budget is a real issue for a lot of people. If investing in your writing will cause your kids (or you) to go hungry, then please…buy groceries.

That said, writing is one of the least expensive endeavors you could choose. It’s never been cheaper to share your work with an infinite number of potential readers.

You can set up a self-hosted blog for less than the cost of one latte a month, and you can start an email list for free. You can find thousands of professional-quality, royalty-free images. You can even create your own eBooks and print books — free.

Sure, you get to choose between investing time or investing money, but don’t let a tight budget stop you.

And if perspective helps, consider the cost of golf equipment, photography gear, or even a gym membership and running shoes. All of a sudden, writing is one of the least expensive, most rewarding activities you can invest your time in.

2. Technology (hint: don’t overthink it)

Learning everything the “gurus” say you need to know is probably making your head spin.

I get it. I really do.

The internet is changing fast and it’s natural to be overwhelmed by all the different tools and terms and tricks. And each one of them has its place.

But here’s the real secret: You don’t need to do everything at once.

If you take it one step at a time, I promise you can nail it.

Keep your site simple

It’s not reasonable to expect the average writer to create her own super-pro web site with a 5-image slider and shopping cart integration in two days. (But you could do it if you had enough time and patience!!)

The good news is, you don’t need all that.

Use a simple, free theme, like WordPress’s 2016 theme. It’s nice and clean, and you can get started with practically no hassle.

Not only will it get you up and running quickly, your readers will thank you, too! Simple for you to create also means simple for them to navigate and find what they need!

You can always upgrade your theme (the look and feel of your blog/site) once you’ve been at it for a while.

ProTip: IF you can swing it, start out on a “self-hosted” site (also sometimes referred to as wordpress.org). This costs a few bucks a month, but it sets you up for long-term growth.

When you’re starting out, this is the #1 thing worth spending just a little bit of bank on.

Start an email list

Every guru says it, and this time, they’re right.

Social media platforms can change what users see on a whim, but nearly everyone still checks their email. Getting the email addresses of the people who want to read what you’re writing? Super-important.

Mailchimp is the best option for starting up. It’s FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers, and there’s almost nothing you could be doing as a new writer that would make you need the paid version.

ProTip: Keep this simple, too. Readers prefer simple, plain emails with NO fancy formatting over branded, pretty emails with headers and matching colors and crap. And if you keep it simple, you can be up and running in under an hour.

You can download a free tutorial video and cheat sheet at my site, Writer’s Next Step.)

Seriously, that’s it.

There’s a lot more you can do. And you may have even heard that you HAVE to do all this other stuff. You don’t.

If you’re not sharing your work because you’re overwhelmed by all the technical crap? Stop it.

Keep it simple and get your writing in front of your readers.

3. Writing Tools

New writers ask veteran writers all the time: What do you use to write?

Now, if it’s pure curiosity about other people’s processes, that’s cool. But I suspect most often this comes from a desire to find a magic bullet — a tool to make your words miraculously appear.

It’s easy to hold back on writing because you’re looking for the perfect tool.

News flash: that tool doesn’t exist.

Write on a napkin or a top-of-the-line MacBook. Use GoogleDocs or Microsoft Office.

Just write.

ProTip: The second thing worth a couple bucks (and it’s only $45 max…one time….ever) is the writing application Scrivener. It’s like a 3-ring binder where you can keep all your various writing organized.

But be forewarned, it’s different from anything you’ve ever used. So if tech overwhelms you, take a pass on it for a while. Your time is better spent writing than learning software.

4. Time

As a global society, we worship at the altar of busy. You scream. I scream. We all scream for more time.

But that’s a waste of energy. You have the same amount of time in your day as Taylor Swift does.

I’ve studied and re-engineered how people use their time (like, professionally). And one thing I found across the board was that how people think they spend their time is not how they actually spend their time.

Do the hustle…or not

Advocates of “hustle” (which I was for years) will tell you to cut back on TV and cut back on sleep. I’ve done both. And I can’t say I regret it….to a point.

But here’s the thing. You can only cut back on so much sleep. I, for one, really need a solid 8-9 hours a night to be at my best. I can function on less for a while, but it’s not sustainable. No one wants to be around me after even a couple weeks of no sleep.

You also can’t go for long without down-time. Relaxation and play are important to your creative engine. And TV (good, scripted TV) provides exposure to great storytelling. Whether you realize it or not, you’re learning.

Now, I’m not telling you to make a career out of watching Netflix, but I’m also telling you there’s another way to recapture a bit of time.

Choose writing

The better way to find more time isn’t to find more time. It’s to waste less of it.

I bet you’re doing a lot of stuff that’s related to writing, but isn’t really writing. Things like taking online courses and doing assignments, jumping into the latest blogging challenge, and promoting your blog posts on 9 different social media platforms…

Evaluate the return-on-investment of everything you do.

Take a look at each activity, whether it takes a minute or an hour, and ask yourself “to what end?”

Consider how likely each activity is to generate results. Ask yourself how long it will take to get those results. And then make smart choices.

Keep the activities that are critical to accomplish what you need to do next. Then kill off the things least likely to take you where you need to go, and use that time to actually write.

Because promotion does you no good if you haven’t written anything to promote. (Tweet that!)

And my final word on finding time? If you want something bad enough, you’ll make the time for it, even if it’s just a little bit each day.

5. Fear

I said we’d get back to it, and I meant it. Bryan talks a lot about how fear can stop us from writing and from sharing our work. I won’t repeat him here, other than to say he’s right.

Here’s my big thing about fear.

Being a little afraid means I care about what I’m putting out there. And that’s a good thing. But being too afraid to release a piece? That’s not OK.

We’re harder on ourselves (at least I am) than any reader ever will be. And chances are, even if your piece is imperfect, it’s likely to connect with someone else, who’s also imperfect, and who needs to hear what you’ve got to say, typos and all.

So what are you waiting for? Get your writing on, and post a link in the comments to something you’ve done that you’re especially proud of (or scared to share)!

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

Did you like this article?

Get future articles delivered directly to your inbox and you’ll also receive an extremely popular eBook included with signing up, all for free. More free stuff to come for subscribers only, so don’t miss out. Enter your email address:

Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
endofpostW Audacity-banner-G610
  • You’re right that an email list is a great way to keep in touch with your readers. Keeping it simple is essential because of the massive variety of browsers and email clients too.

    • Christine Niles

      Great point, Bridget!! Simple = Better!

  • Ken Hughes

    Excellent tips. But to clarify one thing, by

    “start out on a “self-hosted” site (also sometimes referred to as wordpress.org).”

    you mean to pay for your own domain name and hosting space (eg through Bluehost or Godaddy) and use wordpress software on it, rather than the free wordpress.com space. With the free space not only would you not have a clean MyNameHere-dot-com type address, you risk the wordpress or (blogspot) community having a misunderstanding and throwing you all your readers off your blog, forever. But a self-hosted site, like an email list, is always yours.

    • Christine Niles

      Yep, Ken….good clarification. While you *can* pay a little extra to get the MyNameHere-dot-com domain name for a free wordpress.com site, you are still at their mercy. They can change the rules on you, and you’re already REALLY limited on what you can do (especially with regard to subscriptions). It’s easy to move your content, but every person I know who’s tried to move from a free site to a self-hosted site has lost follower/subscribers.

      • Rebecca Rayfield

        Hi Christine…thank you for this post! I’m feeling a bit nervous though. When I first started out, I didn’t realize the difference between WordPress.com and .org, and ended up with WordPress.com. Regarding my email list, I use Mailchimp. My questions is how would I loose any subscribers on my (still so tiny) email list if I switch to WordPress.org? I have so much to learn still…

        • Christine Niles

          Rebecca, you won’t lose anyone in your Mailchimp-that’s what makes it so awesome.

          Where people have issues are with their followers and subscribers through WordPress.com. For email subscribers you can see the addresses and add them manually to mailchimp, but there’s no way to move the people who are just “following” you.

          • Rebecca Rayfield

            Thank you, Christine. That’s a relief. Based on what you state in this post and what others have said, it looks like I’ll need to transition to wordpress.org eventually. I’ve joined your list, so I’m looking forward to receiving your tips for writers…have a great afternoon!

  • I just read an article this morning about being well-read. Lately, I’ve taken a break from my blog to dive into a couple of books. One revealed my utter ineptitude as a writer with its beautiful, masterful use of words; the other encouraged me as a writer that I have something to offer with my current project. I believe that shutting ourselves out from the influence of other artists (writers, filmmakers, painters, poets) limits our own creativity and writing ability. This is a great list, Christine- thanks!

    • Christine Niles

      There are many different ways to express beauty with language. You do you!!! 🙂

  • Bill Cook

    Great advice and tips, Christine. I’ll have to reread this piece, make some
    notes and get back to you later. Thanks

    • Christine Niles

      Thanks so much, Bill! I’d love to answer any questions it brings up for you.

  • Lauren R. Tharp

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a while. Great job!

    • Christine Niles

      Thanks, Lauren!!!

  • Photog58

    Ok, I get the fear part Bryan, but besides the aspects you mentioned, what about fear of theft. I understand that in the U.S. copyright attaches as soon as the work is created. But without registering it, there is no way to tangibly “prove” that the work is your own and not someone else’s.
    So my question is, is it wise or prudent to copyright register a “draft” prior to sending it out for review by anyone from friends to professional editors, proof readers or the like? Or is my “fear” just baseless paranoia? My manuscript, which I have been working on for almost a year is over 125,000 words and the last thing I want is to see all of that work and what I believe is an original premise, come out with someone else’s name on it.
    Thanks

    • Christine Niles

      Good question…I’m not a lawyer, but the ones I’ve talked to have said to me that the copyright code is pretty simple, and doesn’t actually require registration for your work to be yours, although I think they’ve said it’s somewhat easier to defend in court if it’s registered with the copyright office. That said, not very many situations ever end up in court.

      From my perspective (which is just mine, and not legal advice), your fear isn’t “baseless paranoia,” but I also wouldn’t let it stop you from sharing early versions with people you trust. Professional editors, proofreaders, etc who come with recommendations are usually pretty trustworthy–in addition, you can add non-disclosure language into your agreement if you’re feeling uneasy…although I’d suggest that if you’re feeling uneasy about any of the people you’re choosing to work with on your book, you might want to look until you find someone you do trust.

      I completely agree with you that you don’t want to see your work turning up with someone else’s name on it. But I’d encourage you to weigh the likelihood of that happening vs. the likelihood of no one ever seeing your work because that fear stopped you from finishing/publishing it.

  • Matthew Williams

    Great post! Some good advice that I will follow here, I need to look into being self-hosted and I’ll check out scrivener. Here’s something I wrote on perfectionism and fear: https://lovelaughtertruthblog.com/2016/05/02/i-know-i-am-a-fck-up-just-the-same-as-you/

    • Christine Niles

      I can totally relate to the perfectionism, and you’re absolutely right….life is way too short to let it stop us. Thanks for sharing this!

      • Matthew Williams

        You’re welcome and thank you!