Too Paralyzed to Publish? How to Overcome β€˜Send’ Syndrome

memoir mindset memoirs Mar 14, 2024
Hit 'Send' to share your writing

My index finger hovered over the ‘send’ button for several seconds. I rechecked my document one more time. Was it good enough to ship off to my editor? This was the first draft of a small book project, and though I had given it my best, I wasn’t confident it would be on par with what other writers submitted for their first drafts.

I’ve been writing a long time. And yet I still suffer from what I call “Send Syndrome,” the debilitating fear of sending your writing out into the world. It’s still terrifying to me to share my work with people. Why, though? I routinely encourage writers to follow Anne Lamott’s advice about first drafts. But somehow the fear of being judged once someone reads my work creates a type of publishing paralysis in me.

I felt this way a few months ago when I published a personal article on Substack. Nobody had assigned me to write this essay. I simply wrote it because I wanted to explore a new aspect of my life I had never considered or written about. After working on it and putting it through a couple of editing cycles, I felt reasonably confident in the quality of my work. And yet, when it finally came time to publish the piece, I broke into a sweat. Did I really want to put myself out there? I wasn’t getting paid to be this afraid. Why was I putting myself through this torture? Maybe I won’t publish it after all.

Learning how to give voice to your life is hard. Really hard. And yet, it’s the second part of my mission for Write Your Own Life—to help people discover their story and learn how to give voice to it.

Well, let me tell you, friends, I’m learning how to give voice to my stories right alongside you. After nearly 40 years of writing, it’s still scary for me to share my work. Hitting ‘send’ is no small feat. 

I don’t yet know what the editor thinks of my first draft. My heart beats faster when I imagine the notes I’ll get back. I’m anticipating many red marks, copious comments, and a long list of revisions. But for today, I’m letting myself feel a sense of accomplishment for finishing the first draft and being brave enough to send it; to give a writing project my all and bravely move it to the next stage of the process.

If you’re struggling with publishing paralysis, you’re not alone. Countless writers, from novices to seasoned professionals, have stood exactly where you are, teetering on the edge of fear and potential. But here's the truth: every great piece of writing, every impactful story, every profound thought, began with a single act of bravery—the decision to hit 'Send' and share it with the world.

So, take that next step. Hit 'Send' and invite feedback, knowing that every critique is an opportunity for growth. And if you're feeling particularly bold, go ahead—publish it. Trust in your voice, in your unique perspective, and know that your words have the power to inspire, to educate, to comfort, and to provoke thought.


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