Writers share their work.
Perfectionists hoard it.
Yes, the former can be a scary, daunting thing to do. But it's the only way an amateur writer can build a brand, grow an audience, and begin earning money.
The latter feels safe and comfortable. But it's a dead end ...
Most writers who hesitate to share their work fear judgment and rejection. If you don't show anyone, you can't get feedback. If you don't get feedback, you can't get hurt.
Fear, over-editing, and the power of process.
Fearful writers over-edit, tinkering with the words for way longer than they should. Sometimes indefinitely.
The remedy? Process.
An editorial process — a series of steps, executed methodically and consistently — will pave a path to publication.
"A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned."
Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry, a very good French author, said that.
He meant you can always edit more. You can play with the words until you die.
The trick is knowing when to ship.
Here's a 10-step process you can use to write, edit, and publish on a consistent basis, fearlessly:
STEP 1: Research.
Writing starts off the page.
If you're writing an article, collect as much information as possible, organize it, then craft your outline.
STEP 2: Rest.
Then walk away. Go for a run or make dinner or nap. Your brain will use this time to incubate, to process all the new information it just came into.
STEP 3: Write your first draft.
And don't get up until it's finished. Yes. Commit to getting the words down in one block of time. Try not to re-read or edit-as-you-go. Focus all that spared energy on filling in your outline.
STEP 4: Rest.
Then walk away again. You're done for now. Try occupying your mind with other thoughts. Remember, you're not wasting time. You're incubating: your brain is still working in the background.
STEP 5: Edit for macro-clarity.
Is each paragraph clear and cohesive? Each section? What about the entire piece from start to finish?
STEP 6: Edit for micro-clarity.
Is each individual sentence clear?
STEP 7: Edit for brevity and simplicity.
Pare down your adverbs, avoid the passive voice, and omit fancy words and jargon. Instead, use bold, active verbs and simple words that anyone can understand.
STEP 8: Rest.
Then walk away a third time. Let the draft sit for a while — and don't think about it at all.
STEP 9: Review.
Then come back for one final, thorough read.
If the article 1) is easy to consume and 2) makes sense and 3) you like it, then it's time.
STEP 10: Publish.
And feel good about it. Feel good that you went through the steps, the process. That you did your due diligence and checked all the boxes.
Next time, you'll be a bit better at each box, more familiarized and comfortable and efficient. And the time after that you'll be even better. But for now, this draft is what you have — and that's OK. It's a culmination of your experience and preparation.
Trust the process. It'll keep you focused while enabling growth.
Press the button.
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