Dear Fellow Warrior,
Over the past few years, I have found myself in the same position over and over again.
You could call it the “definition of insanity.” I don’t mind.
Sounds more fancy and smart to quote Albert Einstein.
But maybe you can relate.
Time and time again, I hold onto a piece of writing for a long period, because I want it to be perfect, or it wasn’t the right moment, or I just couldn’t get myself to polish it to my liking, and ready for submission.
And even if I planned to self-publish the piece on my own blogs or websites.
I can’t tell you how many opportunities I lost as a potential guest writer, receiving the invitation to write a blog piece, and missing out due to my “perfectionism paralysis” over the past 5-7 years. There were actually many other reasons beyond the perfectionism paralysis for some of those pieces (including having to concentrate on Fieldwork or getting my dissertation done), but perfectionism was indeed one of them.
I know that my writing portfolio, including scholarly publications as well as other mediums, would have been stronger at this point.
Sometimes what stops us from putting our work out to the world is thinking that someone will actually read it. Even when that is the resulting outcome we hope for.
So when we do get the courage to put something out there, we have this expectation.
And nobody reads, we feel hurt and disheartened, dispirited, and even more of the writing paralysis.
It can be deeply painful.
It is a challenge for the prolific writer to understand that nobody every really cared and nobody cares about your writing.
Perhaps at least when you first start.
And definitely not your friends and family. You might be able to adopt a few friends as fans, but it won’t be consistent.
And it is a challenge to brush off that feeling and keep writing.
It is hard, but we really have to try not to resent the people in our lives for not reading our words, no matter how many times we give them the benefit of the doubt or know they are watching you.
I read a piece on Medium, and I cannot locate it now, but it is about writing like crazy until people cannot ignore or dismiss you. I was really happy to see that piece.
It is human to care about what other humans will think. It is a natural phenomenon. So for those who say they don’t, they are most likely lying.
In the end, people are so fixated in their own lives. We all are. And we have no control over other people’s thoughts, actions, and behaviors.
As writers, we worry that we have to make the writing perfect, knowing that no one will read, because we wonder, what if someone reads? So we take the chance. We take the risk. Or we wait until we can get it out.
I notice this with every piece. I tried to use this blog to help defeat that cycle, break that vicious cycle, but it clearly has been a slow process.
I believe that is part of showing up. As Dr. Brene Brown suggests. With every blog piece.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
I like this one too from Dr. Brown:
“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.“
I am reading this short book, “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle,” by Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl. It is a short book so worth not procrastinating on. 🙂 But I am at the moment.
I am not sure if I will ever solve this problem, but it is surely connected to perfectionism and fears. It may never go away but it may at least get better with intentional effort and stop us from wasting our time and our lives with these fears. It is worth making the extra effort to break this cycle.
With every piece, I am reminded that no one cares and nobody cared about the previous piece. So why does it hurt that they don’t care about this one? It is not a good feeling as a writer.
But I remember when I started this blog that if one person would read it, if it is could help just one person, I would be happy. After 7 years and 150+ articles, you would hope for a bigger impact.
But I have to remember that some of my pieces did make an impact on a handful of people in the past and my writing has improved significantly since then.
Now that algorithms are harder to break with online writing, you need more resilience.
Most people in your social networks don’t care and may never even take a second to click on anything you share online. Or maybe some do, but they don’t care about it as much as you think they would.
We can also look at it on the bright positive side: take it as an opportunity, especially if you are still building your craft, to work on improving your writing skills, and reflect on that message you want to share, and the conversation you want to have with the world.
And build up the courage with time to submit to a mainstream outlet that will reach a wider audience.
And once you have let go of a piece you have worked on for a long time, held onto, wow, it is liberating. You can breathe. You want that liberating feeling every time you hit submit. That’s why you blog.
That is precisely what I felt after “pressing submit” for my dissertation, and for my book proposal based on the dissertation recently after working on it and holding on it for two years.
Nobody reads, but the benefit to you pressing submit for something that, is FREEDOM.
Freedom to work on a new blog piece or art project. Start from a blank page, the blank canvas. And truly, that is the best feeling.
Nobody cared, nobody cares, so you should not either.
We need to let go of the idea of having everything perfect in our lives. We have to focus on just doing the best we can, trust the evolutionary process, trust that there will be an impact over time.
Thank you for reading!
Peace, Warmth, Blessings, and Solidarity,
Your Sister, Dr. Elsa
“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus
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