I don’t know you, but if you asked me to write something for you, I would be confident, enthusiastic, and full of ideas.
But I’m not writing for you. I’m writing for me.
And it turns out that one little difference can turn a mindset upside down.
I’ve written all my life. Creative fiction, blogs, essays, articles, short stories. I’ve even studied it. I’ve consistently received great feedback. But the topics, platforms, and types of writing vary widely.
But in all these cases I have been given a task — a job to do. There’s a theme, an audience, a subject to write about. It’s defined, there is a strict barrier that prevents the topic from straying too far, and I respect that barrier. I trust you, your vision, and your audience. I know that great content will receive great response.
But this work is scattered. My name hasn’t travelled far enough for people to seek me out, which means I need to put in the effort to find that work myself. To find those people who have creative ideas, the people who are passionate about their business or their product, I need to find them, contact them, and prove my worth.
I love writing web content, articles, and blogs for people who run their own smaller businesses. The ones that locals all know and love, who deserve recognition and wider acknowledgement, but first I need to find them and convince them the investment is worth it.
To do that I need examples. A portfolio. So where is it?
I can write for myself. I have various platforms ready to go. There’s Medium (of course), my own website and blog intended to speak directly to my target market, twitter, Facebook, and a book review website. But there’s barely anything there.
Why can’t I write it? Why can’t I pull one simple idea from my notebook littered with thoughts, form them into sentences, paragraphs, a page, and hit publish?
It might turn out horrible. Not even in the sense that the whole idea was a burning pile of trash; I might just find one little mistake. Did somebody see it?
They’ll never hire me. I’m a trained editor, a proofreader, a writer, a professional. How embarrassing it would be to have a mistake in something so publicly and widely available to read? Something with my name on it?
It doesn’t matter if I tell myself to turn it around. If I was reading something with a minor mistake in it, I wouldn’t think so badly of the writer. But my brain, somehow, won’t acknowledge it.
It doesn’t matter how frustrated I get at the knowledge that I could be making an income — any income — from my writing and proofreading work if I would just get out of my own stupid way. I stay paralysed. Unable to write, to edit, let alone hit publish on something knowing that it’s going out into the void. Out into a world where someone, somewhere, will pick up on a mistake that I know I must have made.
But I’ve written this and I’m going to do something completely unthinkable. I feel a bit sick. I’m going to publish this. I’m not even going to edit it. They might be just my thoughts, imperfect and unedited, but they are valuable.
Try not to judge.