When I first dipped my toe into writing, blogging, and the accompanying world of Facebook groups, posting anything anywhere would send me into a downward spiral of panic.
My inner critic would go into overdrive.
You don’t belong here. Who are you kidding?
No one cares what you have to say.
Someone’s already said that, so you better have something witty, smart, or insightful to add to the conversation.
You’re not doing this right. You’re making a fool out of yourself, and everyone, everyone, is rolling their eyes in annoyance.
I thought my worst nightmare was the blogosphere cringing at my presence: Oh, her again.
It turns out my worst nightmare is the comments section of Scary Mommy. But more on that later.
Yes, I had some hang-ups. And to top off my laundry list of insecurities, I was also illogically envious of people who effortlessly make us laugh and cry with their funny heartfelt posts and exponentially growing social media followings.
I desperately wanted to be heard, to get my voice into the conversation, but I didn’t know where to start.
I spent my time lurking around, seeing what everyone else was doing, and not contributing to conversations. I spent my time researching, looking at other people’s blogs, reading other people’s guest posts, and liking other people’s status updates.'I spent my time lurking, seeing what everyone else was doing, not contributing to conversations' Click To Tweet
If blogging is a pool, I tried on 457 different swimsuits and walked around the pool 89 times, before I was even ready to test the water with my big toe.
Eventually I was able to make the leap, and have found success in having my work featured on other sites.
How did I finally dive in? Here are 12 things that helped me make the leap that I think will help you too.
1. Get vulnerable
True connection is formed in vulnerability. If you haven’t read Brené Brown, put her at the top of your reading list. When I felt bruised from the comments on my first Scary Mommy piece, I reached out in the Beyond Your Blog Facebook group for support. I was flooded with encouragement from people who had been there and from people who had empathy for my situation. I let people connect to my experience instead of holding them at arm’s length. I started to build connections.
2. Embrace the Golden Rule
Treat people how you want to be treated. If someone shares something with the world, they are inviting you to engage. Support people the way you want to be supported. Be generous with your feedback.'If someone shares something with the world, they are inviting you to engage' Click To Tweet
3. Learn to calm your inner critic
I haven’t had much success plugging my ears and chanting, “I can’t hear you!” but knowing what my inner critic needs has helped me figure out how to wrangle the negative voices. My inner critic is a security junkie, so when she starts to freak out, I acknowledge her and remind her, “We’re okay. We’re safe.” That seems to do the trick.
4. Be true to yourself
The “most popular” post that I had on another site, meaning that it had the most shares and the most traffic, was a snarky response post. And when it was doing really well, it didn’t feel good because it didn’t feel true to me. I felt like a sell-out fraud. It wasn’t the site’s fault or the editor’s fault. It was on me for writing something that struck a chord with the popular kids, but didn’t feel true to what I’m about. Now I make every effort to write what’s true to me, not what I think will be popular.
5. Seek out rejection
It still stings, but I’ve learned that “No,” really means “Not right now.” I have over 40 rejections in the last six months. I track them just like I track my yes’s. If you’re not asking for what you want and putting yourself out there over and over again, then you’re never going to get where you want to go.'I have over 40 rejections in the last six months. I track them just like I track my yes's' Click To Tweet
6. Keep your eye on your own paper
Don’t compare yourself to other writers and bloggers. That makes it sound easy. But seriously, I only compare myself to my own goals and my own progress. Have I done what I set out to do? That is all that really matters.
7. Set goals and go for them
If you don’t know where you’re trying to go, you won’t get very far.
8. Commit to creating more than you consume
It is easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. Everyone has their own agenda, and you can spend all of your time helping them achieve theirs. Focusing on my work means blocking time without email, social media and anything else that sucks me down the rabbit hole of distraction.
9. Remember that you’re not alone
Even at my lowest moments, I know that I am not the only one feeling invisible, frustrated, and ready to throw in the towel. There is simply no way. Right? Right?!?!?
10. Stop planning and start doing
At some point, you have to say, “Screw it.” The piece will never be perfect. It will never be the exact right time to submit, to post, or to share. But if you are committed to getting your voice out there, you have to do it already.
RELATED: Start. Even Without A Perfect Plan
11. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously
This is a tough one. I want to be taken seriously as a writer, but if I’m too serious it sucks all of the joy out of it. We have this running joke in my house, “If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong family.” Find what brings you joy and lifts you up and focus on those things. Stop messing around with things that suck your energy and make you feel like crap.
12. Your contribution matters
You have to learn to believe this in your very core. I had to learn to believe in the words I was choosing to share. Learn to trust that if you write something that reflects who you are in a compelling, interesting way, people will read it.
Trust me, I know it feels safe lurking around watching everyone. You might have even convinced yourself that you’re learning something. But like most things, you learn by doing not watching. It’s time to leave your lurker status behind. Get in there and show us what you’ve got.'It’s time to leave your lurker status behind. Get in there and show us what you’ve got' Click To Tweet