5 Traps Writers Fall Into That Stop Them From Publishing
Don't fall victim to these.
Dear Friend & Subscriber,
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while now, and have taken it upon yourself to commit to a Daily Writing Habit (or joined Ship 30 for 30 to help you build one), then I’m sure you’ve run into a handful of days where you probably didn’t want to write.
Or maybe you just felt discouraged, and even though you had ideas and things to write about, you told yourself, “Eh, what’s the point.”
These feelings are 100% normal.
Every single writer, even the most successful writers in the world, have to overcome these feelings. Sometimes on a weekly or monthly basis, and sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis. Writing, and creating anything period, is hard stuff. It requires you to keep exploring even when you aren’t quite sure where you’re going.
So, what separates the great writers from the failed writers?
Usually only one thing: consistency.
The writers who stick with it the longest are the ones who end up becoming “great.” And meanwhile, even the most talented of writers who decide to throw in the towel fade into the distance. Nobody knows who they are because, well, they stopped writing.
Your #1 goal is to avoid this pitfall.
As long as you don’t stop writing, your chances of reaching the goals you have in mind for yourself continue to go up, and up, and up.
To keep yourself from falling victim to this type of scenario, it’s worth pinpointing what some of the other pitfalls are that keep writers from continuing forward with their craft.
Trap #1: You think what you have to say doesn’t matter.
I encourage you to flip this statement on its head.
It’s not that “what you have to say doesn’t matter.” It’s that the journey of writing, and being a writer, is about figuring out what things need to be said that people want and need to hear. Remove yourself and your own ego for a second: what does the world need? What do the readers you want to reach need? Think less “me” and more “you.”
What can you share and give the reader? What would they see as immensely valuable?
Trap #2: Lack of output due to lack of input.
Your output is only as good as your input.
If you are struggling to come up with things to write about, chances are, the input side of your equation is lacking. You aren’t reading enough. You aren’t researching anything new. You aren’t going down a YouTube rabbit hole with intention, soaking up knowledge and unique ideas.
When the well runs dry, don’t beat yourself up.
Trap #3: Too much input—avoiding output.
Building on the above, be careful and keep a close eye on how much time you spend reading and researching versus how much time you spend actively creating.
A good rule of thumb is: “The amount of hours you spend consuming should never equal or be greater than the amount of hours you spend creating.”
Otherwise, you fall into a vicious cycle of feeling like you need to keep reading, keep researching, only to inevitably postpone the thing you actually need to do (which is write and publish).
Trap #4: Not Practicing In Public.
Nothing kills the spirit of a writer faster than feeling the walls close in and wondering, “Am I moving in the right direction? Will anyone want to read what I’ve written? What if no one likes it? What if? What if?”
In the digital age, there is no excuse for writers to hide away in their rooms for months or years on end, writing in a vacuum. (In the 1800s and 1900s, this made more sense—but even then, writers would frequent pubs and restaurants and popular parts of town to discuss their ideas in public). Instead, you are far better off regularly writing and publishing ideas and stories out in the open, gathering feedback in the form of data, and engaging with readers in the process.
Don’t hide. It’s a one-way ticket to overthinking your writing.
Trap #5: Over-editing.
Expert writers fall in this trap just as often as beginner writers.
One of the core principles we preach in Ship 30 for 30 is, especially in your first year of writing online, don’t worry too much about editing. You are far better off focusing on generating new ideas, working through them, and publishing them (and gathering data from them) than you are sitting there trying to trade adjectives or obsess over which paragraphs should go first or second.
The reason is because, until you start to gather some data around what’s really working, how will you know what to edit for? How do you know you’re tweaking the right stuff? You need some sort of North Star to guide your editing—and so it’s best to focus on validating that North Star (through feedback and data in the market) before spending hours and hours slaving over sentences.
Don’t over-edit, especially in the beginning.
Just write and publish.
Write and publish.
Nicolas “Consistency Is The Key” Cole