Maybe you want to start writing online, but aren’t sure which of your ideas are “good enough” to publish.
Or maybe you’ve been working on a few drafts that are saved somewhere on your computer, but you’ve been hesitant to share them.
I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone.
All beginner writers face the same 10 overarching problems.
And the reason these problems are so common is because so many writers are STUCK in the legacy world, still following “the old rules” of writing and believing they need to become some magical genius before they’re allowed to write and publish anything in the world.
When that’s simply just not true.
Here are the problems that hold writers back the most, along with some mental shifts to help you overcome them:
Writers love distractions.
It’s the easiest way to postpone doing the thing that needs to be done, which is sit down and write. “I need to do my laundry” is a common one.
So is, “I need to give my friend a call” or “I’ve been working so hard lately, I could use a night watching Netflix.” But a small, powerful reframe here is actually seeing the distractions in your life as potential material and things to write about. Instead of getting frustrated by having human responsibilities, impulses, and friends who want to see you, write about them!
Writers love switching out adjectives, debating, “Should I say ‘amazing’ or ‘astounding?’”
But the truth is, these types of edits don’t matter.
And here’s why.
One of the first big principles we teach in Ship 30 for 30 is that, in your first year of writing online, you shouldn’t worry about editing at all (and we’ll explain why further in this guide).
Instead, you should focus on getting your IDEAS out into the world. Forget the adjectives. Forget the grammar. Just focus on validating whether you are headed in the right direction. Then, once you get a sense for what ideas are intriguing to readers, THEN start refining your writing.
But before you figure that out, editing is a waste of time.
Ah, a writer’s favorite excuse.
“It’s not ready yet.”
OK, when will it be ready, then?
One of the biggest obstacles writers need to overcome early on is realizing that “perfect” is an unreasonable milestone. More importantly, aiming for “perfect” slows you down — so much so, that other writers who aren’t aiming for perfect end up zooming right by you.
A reframe I find helpful here is to allow yourself to create “junk.”
Who cares if you write and publish something that doesn’t get a lot of traction? In everything you write, you are learning. And the more you learn, the faster you will grow, the better you’ll get, and so on. Aiming for perfection isn’t productive.
“I’ll start writing tomorrow.”
We have a saying in Ship 30 for 30, and it goes like this: If you fall off the ship, that’s fine, but just make sure you don’t stay swimming for 2 days in a row (because your writing habit will drown and die). The secret to writing is to train and nurture your Daily Writing Habit. And in order to build a Daily Writing Habit, that means you need to get back on the ship every single day.
If you miss a day, that’s fine.
Don’t beat yourself up.
But climb aboard and get back at it tomorrow.
Otherwise, too many “tomorrows” will go by.
How do you build confidence in yourself as a writer?
It’s so simple that it’s complicated.
The reason why writers struggle with self-confidence at the beginning of their journey is because they are still sitting on the dock, waiting, imagining. They haven’t yet confronted the brutal reality that, once they begin, they probably aren’t going to be great at writing. It’s going to take practice. So in order to overcome this fear and START gaining self-confidence, you need to rip the bandaid off and begin. The reframe here is: nobody starts out confident.
Confidence is something you build as you move forward.
#6: Generating ideas.
A lot of writers have this fear that someone is going to “steal their ideas.”
But writers who are afraid of other writers stealing their ideas are afraid because they don’t know how to create more ideas. Said differently: they value the ideas they have SO MUCH because they don’t have the skill of creating more ideas on command. Well, that’s why I created an Endless Idea Generator for writers to use anytime they feel stuck. (I still use the Endless Idea Generator every single day in my own writing. Why? Because it works.)
#7: Impostor syndrome.
The reason writers experience Imposter Syndrome is because we are taught that writing is all about “fitting in” where readers already are.
It’s about becoming a “better” writer than the next person — which is what leads to the feeling of being an imposter.
I don’t believe this is a healthy path forward for writers.
A better way of thinking about your path forward as a writer is figuring out how you can be DIFFERENT, not “better” than the competition. After all, how can you be an imposter if you created something completely different for yourself?
You aren’t competing with anyone.
You’re a 1/1.
#8: Writing consistently.
The vast majority of writers & creators don’t have a talent problem.
They have a consistency problem.
It’s a cliché because it’s true. Look at any successful writer, author, or even YouTuber, content creator, musician, artist, etc. Anyone who has stood the test of time did so because they were able to create prolifically over a prolonged period of time. Consistency, in itself, is a powerful differentiator.
And if you have trouble being consistent, I encourage you to sign up for Ship 30 for 30, where you’ll be given a support system, a community of fellow writers, an Accountability Partner, and more, all with the goal of keeping you on track and “shipping” new content every single day.
#9: Choosing a platform.
Where’s the best place to write online?
The honest answer to this question is: anywhere except your own blog. Instead, you want to write in social publishing environments like Twitter, Quora, Medium. Or, if you want to set up a Social Blog, I encourage you to use Typeshare (so you get the benefits of both a personal blog and social distribution).
If you want more insight into why starting with a blog is NOT the best place to begin writing online, grab a copy of The Art & Business of Online Writing.
#10: Finding time to write.
And of course, one of the biggest reasons writers don’t write is because they “don’t have time.”
Well, here’s the thing — not just about writing, but about anything in life: when it comes to making progress on things that are important to us, you don’t “find” time. You make time. These hours are your Sacred Hours, and it’s your responsibility as a writer to make time where you are a) most likely to be productive, but b) least likely to be disturbed by the outside world.
Your Sacred Hours might be early in the morning, at lunch, or at night.
But it’s on you to pinpoint them, and then protect them.
If you resonate with any of the above, don’t worry. A lot of writers struggle with these things.
In fact, you are part of the majority. These are the issues keeping MOST people from clarifying their thoughts, writing them down, and hitting publish.
The good news is, they’re all easy to fix — once you start down the path of becoming a Digital Writer.