The Pressure to Publish Makes Me Not Want to Try

We strive for credibility when the pressure to obtain it hurts.

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Technically, I am not a published author.

I am a published writer, I’ve had a few things appear in print magazines and hundreds upon hundreds of articles published online.

This doesn’t include my blog, which I publish on daily, because it’s fun.

That apparently doesn’t matter to a lot of people. And I guess I can understand why.

After all, the internet allows anyone with access to publish anything they want. So I’m just one of many people adding my voice to all the others, which makes me “just another.”

I don’t have a book with my name on it. I never realized until recently how much that apparently matters.

For some reason, much more value is placed on authorship in a more traditional sense. That is, if you have an agent and your agent has sold your book to a publisher and that publisher has printed and distributed your book, well, THEN you matter. You’re SOMEBODY.

I repeat on this blog, as often as I can, that if you only take one thing away from what I have to say, it’s that your words matter, what you write has significance, and you don’t have to be a traditionally published author to have merit as a good writer.

I always thought these words were not only encouraging, but true. I still believe them. I still think you shouldn’t let anyone else define your worth.

But.

That doesn’t mean other people are going to care.

It breaks my heart to say that, because I know that all you want is for someone to not only read your work, but care about it. I know this because that is also what I want. It’s what we all want, no matter how strongly we claim that we’re all happy just writing for ourselves.

The reality is, at least what I’ve come to witness lately, people really don’t care what you have to say about writing if you don’t have a book to promote, and that has almost made me want to quit blogging more than once this year.

Good writers publish books.

They also host blogs and write articles and use their skills in many other outlets and professions. I do not believe a traditionally published author is any better at writing than a good writer who hasn’t published a book yet, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

I don’t really understand why a book holds more merit than my day job as a writer, but I guess enough people do what I do that my work doesn’t really give me any authority in this space.

Why, you might ask, am I so concerned with being valued and trusted?

Well, isn’t that why we’re all doing what we’re doing? Trying to establish that we know what we’re doing based on personal experience? Based on YEARS of hard work whether other people have acknowledged its worth or not?

It’s very discouraging to realize that sometimes not even personal experience matters, if you don’t have a piece of writing “worthy enough” to show for it.

Why don’t I have a book published yet? Because I don’t. Because I try to do too many things at once, and often that means fiction writing falls to the bottom of my priority list. Because I haven’t finished a first draft of a book in a few years, and even the ones I have, I haven’t gone deep enough into revisions for them to matter. Because priorities and goals shift. Because I’m trying, and since I haven’t succeeded yet, all that effort has yet to pay off, at least in the eyes of those who might be watching.

Does that make me any less of a writer than someone who is publishing a book next year? No. But again. My opinion.

I value this blog so much more than a draft I haven’t finished yet that may or may not become a published book someday. So maybe that means I’m always just going to be just another blogger who writes about writing and tries to encourage other writers to do the writing thing.

That’s what I love to do. I’m not going to publish a book unless that book holds enough meaning to me in order to do so. If I wrote and published a book simply because that was what everyone expected me to do, and not because I felt it was the right thing to do for me personally, it would never truly be a good book.

Do I want to publish a book? Yes. It has been my dream since I was 10 years old. But I’m just being honest here, the pressure has almost become too much. Something deep inside my subconscious has convinced me that nothing I write matters if I don’t have a book to show off, and I do not like that lie. I have spent a lot of time this year trying to protect you, my dear readers, from lies like this. But that does not mean I don’t also struggle to turn away from them.

If you think that makes me a hypocrite, well, you’re allowed to think that. I think there’s a big difference though between saying something is right and doing the opposite, and admitting that you are human and, try as you might to live by your own advice, still struggle to be the prime example. Because you shouldn’t have to be, because you’re a writer just like all the rest. We’re all struggling in some capacity. I’d be ashamed to try and pretend I wasn’t.

I’m trying as best I can to create and follow a path, to be the writer I have always wanted to be. That’s all I ever ask you to do. To keep trying, even when it gets hard. To keep creating, even when no one else is paying attention. To keep pressing on, even in those moments it doesn’t seem worth it.

We are in this together, you and I. All following separate paths to reach a goal, but not alone. At least I hope not.

I may publish a book someday, and I may not. But I can’t let the uncertainty silence me. I think my words have worth, even if no one else does. For now, that’s enough to get me through.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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2 thoughts on “The Pressure to Publish Makes Me Not Want to Try

  1. Well said! It gets discouraging if we listen to what others say make us ‘real’ writers. If we keep writing what we love, that’s what has true value. I too would love to have a book published some day but if that never happens at least I can enjoy the writing I do. Thank you such an honest and encouraging post.

  2. I’ve self-published two books before, but it’s getting more difficult every year to even consider publishing a third book. The pressure to do better than the previous novel is kind of driving me insane. As a self published author, I’m a nobody and many people say horrible things about “indie” authors/publishers. I love writing, and yet the fear of failing again or being rejected by people can be so paralyzing for me. I used to blog everyday, but not anymore. I completely understand what you’re going through and I appreciate your post. It makes me feel not alone.

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