You know you’re a reasonably good writer, right? Maybe even a great writer.
You can effectively, even interestingly, string words together to form cohesive thoughts.
Your grasp of proper grammar and language usage is superb.
Why, then, when it comes time to hit that publish button, does your finger hover there while questions and doubts fill your head?
Is Your Article Ready For Public Consumption?
Is your article or post ready for prime time?
Did you miss anything?
Oh, gosh, you just know you missed something, misspelled a word or several words, missed an awkward phrase.
Will you look stupid?
You’re Not Alone
If you do any content writing at all, these are common worries. Most of us, most of the time, can get past them and hit publish.
But the question always remains — was it ready? Should I have read it one more — or a dozen more — times before I published?
A nice spot on the beach, minus laptop, seems pretty inviting right about now.
Every Writer Has a Love/Hate Relationship With The Publish Button
Don’t think for a moment you’re the only one who feels this way. Every content writer struggles with this, to one degree or another.
The trick is to learn to trust your judgement, recognize when you’ve done your best, and believe that your article is ready.
It’s almost like raising kids — you do your best, give it everything you’ve got, cover all your bases, and you finally just have to let it go.
It’s hard, often scary.
Okay. Maybe that’s a tad melodramatic. But for writers, the comparison is not that big a stretch.
When we write, we put ourselves on the line. Our thoughts, our opinions, our ideas are exposed to scrutiny. Even ridicule and criticism.
We take risks whenever we put ourselves out there.
Our content is a part of us, of who we are, of what makes us tick.
That makes us feel vulnerable.
So we write, we proofread, we edit.
Sometimes we trash the whole thing and start again.
And miracle of miracles, we do eventually hit publish.
It Only Looks Easy
To anyone unfamiliar with the process, it may look easy. Writers know it’s anything but.
And the more we strive for perfection, the harder it is to let it go.
But let it go we must. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Some Ideas To Make Publishing Easier
There are a few tricks and tips I use that help me hit that publish button with a bit less angst. See if any of them help you.
1. Have a plan
Knowing what you want to write about and what you want to say is half the battle. And often it does feel like a battle. How many times have you thought, I need to write something. I have to get something published, but the very thought makes you want to find any excuse to avoid it?
Having a plan and a schedule for when you want to publish something can help you ensure that your content has value.
Of course, when you write for someone else, this is easier. They give you your plan. Then it’s simply a matter of researching your subject, creating your outline — assuming you do outlines — and writing. I find that easier, frankly, than coming up with my own topics.
You don’t always feel creative. But when you plan ahead, and have topics your audience will find valuable at hand, you’ll be more confident that your post will be significant. And that helps ease the fear that you might be publishing drivel.
2. Keep a swipe file
This goes right along with having a plan. Anything you use to keep a stash of topic ideas as they occur to you will be a tremendous help when it comes time to write.
I use an app on my phone called Awesome Note, and when a topic idea pops into my head that I think my audience will benefit from, I add it to my Awesome Note app. There are other apps that do the same thing. Do a little research and find something that works for you.
Or if you’re a pen-and-paper person, as many writers are, get a notebook to house your ideas.
It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you have a place to gather topic ideas. Use what works best for you.
Both your plan and your swipe file will serve to provide you with good material you’ll feel comfortable sharing.
3. Proofread, proofread, proofread
We all know the value of proofreading. We know it’s important. It almost can’t be done enough.
But it can also be where writers get trapped, in a vicious cycle of writing, proofreading, editing, writing, proofreading… you get the idea. You feel like you’re in one of those revolving doors at the airport, only you can’t find the exit.
Yes, it’s important to catch misspellings, fix awkward phrases, correct punctuation. Sometimes start all over again, if need be.
But we do have to find a point where we can stop. We must get off the merry-go-round.
We strive for perfection as much as we can, but we also need to admit that perfection is almost impossible. There has to be a point when we finally can say, Okay, this is good to go. And publish.
Even after publishing, you can still fix errors you missed. Just know that at some point, you have to stop editing and go live. It will be okay.
4. Have someone else proofread for you
If possible, get another set of eyes on your article. Others often catch what we miss because we’re seeing what we expect to see, not what’s there.
This is especially true when it comes to misspelled or omitted words and sloppy punctuation. We’re just too close and we just don’t see them, even when they’re glaringly obvious.
Have you ever published an article and days or even weeks or months later, read it over again and found mistakes you missed? I have. More often than I care to admit.
A new set of eyes can shine a spotlight on errors we miss. It’s a valuable tool, when we’re able to use it.
5. Follow the Rule of 24
I saw this phrase recently and thought, wow, this may just be the most valuable tool of all.
I used to write my posts and articles and publish them almost immediately. Sometimes within an hour or so of first draft.
Not anymore. These days, I write my first pass fairly quickly. Just get it down and out of my head.
I won’t publish it right away. In fact, I close my article up and go on to other tasks. I may look at it hours later, but more often than not, I don’t look at it again until at least the next day.
Often the next day, I totally rewrite my post. I throw out filler. I fix awkward phrases. I’m much more likely to see errors I would have missed on the first pass.
Often my published article bears little resemblance to my first draft. And that’s okay. Because my first draft was just getting my thoughts down. The proofread and edits the next day fine tune and tighten everything up.
Waiting at least 24 hours always makes for a better article. Always. Not once has this proved me wrong.
Sometimes just getting your thoughts down is most important. Then you go back, 24 hours or more later, and make it sing. Don’t expect to publish immediately. You’re much better off if you don’t.
6. Just publish
When you’ve done everything you can, edited, proofread, reread over and over again, you just need to finally let it go. You may never feel it’s perfect. It doesn’t matter. When you’ve done your best, you have to trust that it was enough. And it almost always will be.
The more often you hit publish, the easier it will get. Just keep writing and publishing. Your writing will improve while your belief in yourself grows.
What keeps you from hitting the publish button? Or maybe you don’t struggle with this. Maybe it comes easy to you.
Whether you publish worry free or do it filled with anxiety, remember to always focus on improving, while also accepting you’ll never be perfect. After all, who is?
Let it sit.
But not forever.
Do your best.
Believe in yourself.