You will release imperfect things into this void.
You will work for days, weeks, months on a project and hold your breath and hit publish and still, after all that effort, after all that time, it won’t be perfect. It will be flawed.
And yet you’ll work for days, weeks, months on yet another project, and another, releasing those too, even though they won’t be perfect.
You do this because you have no other choice.
You do this because you are a writer who is learning the ways of the creative world. And doing all this, working so hard, showing off your work even though you know it could be better? That is the way of things.
You just don’t know it yet.
Here’s a secret I wish I didn’t have to tell you: Even I still hesitate before making my writing available for everyone to read.
Not for long. A fraction of a second, maybe.
But I still hesitate. Why?
Because I, like so many other writers, want to make good things. Even if I know I can’t be perfect, even though a perfect story doesn’t technically exist, there’s always that hope that someone someday will write one, and that this someone might be you.
You know you can’t be perfect. But you want to be. Because you want your stories to mean something. You don’t want people to just see the flaws. You want them to look past them, look deeper, see the narrative for what it really is.
We all want that. And yet, there’s always that one thing that could have been written better, or differently, but wasn’t.
And the fear of that happening alone is enough to make writing at all seem impossible.
I tell you this to remind you that in this chaos, you are not alone. Never have been, never will be. Writers don’t exist to argue and compete with each other for readers. We are a community. We’re supposed to help each other, even if that means simply saying “Hey. I get what you’re feeling. I feel it, too.”
I do feel it. All of it. The fear. The self-doubt. The longing to be better, or feel more confident. The sense of urgency to do more, to improve, to make something that matters.
But you can’t let your inability to write perfect things stop you from writing, or sharing. Because if you don’t write, if you don’t share — assuming your goals have to do with sharing your work, but if they don’t, that’s totally OK too — how will you ever learn to swallow your fear and Just Do It Anyway?
Sure, I’m still briefly terrified every time I’m about to publish something.
But I do it anyway, almost every single time. Because I know that my fears are irrational. I know I’m much harder on myself than I deserve. And I know that I will regret never publishing what I just wrote much more than I’ll regret showing it off to whoever might happen to stumble across it.
The more I do that, the easier it gets to silence my panic and press that button.
Writing is hard. It will always be hard. Publishing is hard. That in itself never gets easier.
But in writing, it’s not always about the work itself. It’s about the simple act of Following Through. Taking a chance. Saying to yourself, “Hey, even if this is terrible, at least I’m trying. At least I can learn something from this and improve the next time I do this.”
Because there’s going to be a next time, now that you’ve done it this time. Right?
I hope there will be. For you. For me. For all of us.
I’m constantly releasing things into the void knowing many of them aren’t going to be great. Aren’t going to get the results I want. Aren’t going to change the world.
But the only way to grow as a writer is to keep trying, even when it’s scary. Even when it’s hard.
Eventually, all your effort is going to pay off one way or another.
Almost never in the ways you always imagined it would.
Some surprises really are worth the wait.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.