when you’re scared to hit publish: read this

song: remedy by adele

read time: 7 minutes

when i started this blog, i set out on a mission to write everyday. someone asked me the other day how much content i have queued-up — my answer: nothing.

i write everyday. what i write today, i’ll publish tomorrow.

maybe one day soon i’ll start writing more to have content queued up. but for now, i want to create a place for myself that is pressure-free. i want to create a space that is unattached— to a motive or agenda and where i can be free to be me.

i’ve realized — we all need “our thing”. the thing that brings us a sense of joy and fulfillment. we spend our days working hard on projects that benefit our work, our families, our friends, our communities, or whatever else — but when it comes to carving out time to work on something we enjoy, that has no purpose other than to revive our spirits, we make excuses and come up with all the reasons why we don’t have time.

but my gosh— if there is one thing i have learned on the journey of writing, it’s this: we cannot afford to not spend time on the things that make our souls feel alive.

that’s a side note.

the real note is this:

i took a week away from writing — i was traveling and wanted to focus on being present.

when i came back —it was hard. i felt like my ideas weren’t there. well, that’s not even true. i had ideas, but every time i went to sit down and write them down on electronic paper — they escaped me. i stumbled. i started, but never finished. i couldn’t find a good beginning or the right words to express a thought, and well, i produced nothing.

this happens.

not just for me, but for everyone. at some point, many of us go through this paralyzing state where we don’t produce what we are working on. we want perfect. we over think, over critique, and allow ourselves to get inside our heads. we tell ourselves that what we are working on is not good enough to meet the light of day and enter into people’s worlds. sound familiar?

the result: we never hit publish. and our ideas, words, concepts — stay hidden and collect dust.

i have heard about this creative virus before, but i had never experienced it til last week. i get it now — it’s rough. it’s a struggle.

but what i do also understand is this: our ideas must enter into the world. we cannot keep the fear of disappointing perfection to keep us from hitting the publish button.

if we do —

  1. we risk never becoming the people that we were created to be. i say this because writing, creating, producing — it changes you. the art itself does a work in you as you are producing. it sifts out old ideas and brings forth new ideas, shaping and molding you into a stronger version of you.
  2. we risk missing out on the big ideas and happenings. meaning this — everything leads to something. what you do today, will lead you to where you go tomorrow. what you create today will open doors for you tomorrow— both in the realm of ideas and opportunity. if you don’t hit publish, if you don’t produce, you might miss out on going where you were supposed to go in life.
  3. we miss the opportunity to be a part of someone else’s story. this — is monumental. inside of you are ideas, concepts, theories, and creations that can impact the way that someone else lives their life. so you can’t hoard your ideas to ourselves as if they are just yours – they aren’t. other people need what you have to say.

the words and ideas inside of you are merely at a resting point — they are merely there waiting to make their debut into the world to bring someone else hope, light, and redemption. but they need you to make that happen. they need you to give them life.

does that mean that everything you publish or produce will be the most brilliant thing ever? no. nor should it. as creators, we cannot put that pressure on ourselves. we can’t handle it.

if we have that mindset — that everything we make needs to be the most brilliant thing ever — we’ll end up robbing ourselves and everyone else of something we were meant to give away. why? because, we’ll just sit there. scared and nervous to disappoint ourselves and everyone around us.

creation is messy. creation means that you are making something new out of nothing. it’s a process — and you have to allow the good and the bad to have their rightful place. if you are going to commit to a lifetime of creating— you can’t have the good without the bad.  it’s perspective. the “bad” stuff isn’t really all that “bad”. it’s leading you straight to the good.

i recently heard that adele almost gave up on music after her album 21. the world raved about her album and she had quickly reached a pinnacle of success. in an interview, adele stated that she was worried she wouldn’t be able to produce another album that was just as great as 21 with the same conviction, the same heart, and the same soul.

while she thought about giving up. she didn’t quit. she tried again.

she didn’t allow her fear of falling short of perfection to keep her from doing something she loved. she decided to try again and produce the best she could. that’s all she could promise — to deliver the best she could.

in the interview, she continued on to say that while preparing for her most recent album, 25, she wrote more songs than she has ever written in her life. she wrote enough songs to fill three albums. she laughed saying that some of the songs were bad, like really bad. even adele, who we hail as great, couldn’t produce a constant flow of perfection.

but she wrote. she created. she hit publish.

she didn’t hide what she was working on. she put it out there. she showed her friends, family, record label — she let someone see what she was creating.

each song she wrote, brought her closer to the album that she released to the rest of the world. which, in my opinion, is brilliant through and through. every song has melodies, harmonies, and lyrics that you want to soak in. personally, i am so thankful that adele didn’t give up and didn’t succumb to fear she faced. can you imagine a world without adele’s music? her music brings hope, life, and inspiration to all it’s listeners.

the point of all of this is simple — create and publish. don’t allow the fear of falling short of perfection to keep you from doing the thing you love.

i wish someone would have told this to harper lee.

lee wrote to kill a mocking bird — it granted her immediate success and branded her as great. after that, she quit. why? who knows. but, perhaps, it was the fear of falling short of perfection.

perhaps every time she sat down, she kept feeling as if she couldn’t measure up to what she had already created. perhaps, she couldn’t stop over analyzing her work and couldn’t shake the voices inside her head telling her it wasn’t good enough.

we’ll never know for sure why she stopped writing or why she never produced again. but, gosh. i wish she published again. there’s no doubt, inside of harper lee were thoughts and ideas that could have influenced all of us in the best way possible.

so you see — we all experience the creative virus, a moment where we feel frozen— not sure if we can produce because of fear or the burden of perfection. you, me, and all the greats. we all experience this at some point. what matters though — isn’t that we feel frozen — but what we do in the moments after. will you stay frozen by fear? or will you create anyway— knowing that your love for creating is a stronger force than fear’s grasp?  

you have choices to make, dear friend. i hope more than anything, you choose to create and publish. the world needs you, your ideas, your good, and, yes, even your bad. don’t let the burden of creating perfection keep you from producing. create the best you can. deliver your best. that’s all anyone can ask of you. that’s all you can promise, your best.