Fear of Publishing

I have an irrational fear of publishing even if it's my own blog post.  "But what's there to fear?" I ask myself. Do you fear your writing being critiqued? (Yes). Do you fear trolls or pointless arguments that should have never started? (Heck, yes). Do you fear that your efforts will largely be ignored? (YES).

These fears have one thing in common: they are out of your control. You cannot make others agree with you, or force them to spend their precious time on what you have to say. Is it important anyway? It may be important to practice writing and shaping your message, but what message are you putting out? What are you trying to say? Perhaps understanding this first will help you direct content to the right people.

Writing can be used to clarify thinking. After a quick draft, the first edit is to make it more concise. There are many unnecessary thoughts that get transcribed into unnecessary words. To clearly articulate your thoughts without the need for editing would mean that it has to be done in your mind. Though this practice is great for speaking, as words that come out of your mouth cannot be taken back as easily, our working memory is limited, making it difficult to articulate deeper thinking. Perhaps this is one of the great benefits of writing reflections, as your thoughts are out in print and clarity is improved with editing.

Unfortunately, many of us learn the wrong way in school: word counts tend to make students bloat their writing. However, I have also exceeded word counts in university because I thought more words meant more content. But I was wrong; it's harder to be concise.  Perhaps this is also the same with speaking. It's easier to explain something with more words, but the more it takes, the less effective it is. In contrast, consider aphorisms. They do their job exceptionally well. Short and sweet.

I read other blogs to get a sense of what other people are writing, but I often see a style that is geared toward marketing. I see click-bait titles and non-experts speaking as if they are. Some borrow examples from experts, but once you read enough, they are mostly the same. I'm tired of reading about black swans, thinking fast and slow, and the habit loop. Sometimes things get so condensed that there is no longer any depth, creating a rehash of concepts that are meaningless. But they sound good in the moment because we're probably procrastinating from doing what we should be doing.

So, what do I write about? Instead of giving summaries about books I've read, which may look pretentious to those who don't have the time to read, it may be better to write about the lessons I hope to apply. How am I using this knowledge to improve my life? For example, how do I interpret "Skin in the Game" in my coaching? What are potential "Black Swans" when it comes to player profiling on a Podium Pathway? What cognitive biases are common in the athletes I work with? How can teaching math better help with my own coaching? These insights may be something that people want to read about.

Stephen King recommended having an "ideal reader" in mind in his memoir. I want to write to stimulating thinking and further discussion, instead of having a readership that nods heads and skims articles. This might give more time to write better content, but at a slower rate. If you have something worth reading, then it will do well. You can't compete with low quality content, because there's too much already. I prefer quality over quantity, because the goal is to get answers to my questions, not to become a writer (or worse, an influencer).

Do I still fear wasting my time and effort on something that isn't deemed valuable? Yes, and that's a risk I'm willing to take. It's "leaving the door open", as Stephen King said. My ideal reader is someone with an open mind, and willing to ponder concepts in their own way. This can lead to self reflection so they can come up with their own answers. I'm not here to give answers, but to provide insights that can be personalized. That is how I coach because every athlete is different. If you want easy answers, then google your question with either "hack" or "top ways".

Perhaps I'm actually just writing for myself.

But if it helps you too, maybe we're not that different after all.
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