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To Post or Not To Post

samborick profile image Sam Borick Originally published at ・3 min read

Have you ever started writing something, gotten about 2/3rds of the way through, and decided that the thing that you’re writing isn’t worth saying at all?

That’s how I’ve spent most of my life on the internet, and to be honest, I’m tired of it.

There’s a lot of people on the internet like me, often called lurkers. The most common reason for lurking is simple enough, fear. Fear of getting into a futile internet argument, fear of not adding anything of value to the conversation or fear of saying something you’ll later regret.

The thing I fear the most is not adding anything of value. When I start writing something, a tweet, article, email, whatever, I worry that I’ll bother someone. I worry that what I want to talk about isn’t what someone wants to hear from me. So I say nothing instead.

But something changed in the last few days. Maybe I had my “F This” Moment, I honestly don’t know.

It’s not like I’ve never shared stuff with the world. I’ve published something like 20 articles in the last 3 years, many of them I’m really proud of! It’s really some of my best work. That’s part of the problem though, I would only publish the very best. Anything that I didn’t think was good enough I just wouldn’t publish, or worse, I wouldn’t even start on it.

This quote from Ira Glass on the topic has really stuck with me. To paraphrase, people who do creative work do it because they have good taste, and they want to make good things. When you’re just starting out, your work will disappoint you, since your skills lag behind your taste. You’ll see that your work isn’t as good as others that you admire. You have to do a bunch of practice before your skills catch up with your taste.

I think this quote 100% applies to me. There’s a difference between the best I can theoretically do, and trying my best. Most of the time I’m not going to be performing at my peak, nobody can. But when I notice the gap between my taste and my skills, that’s not a reason to give up. I need to remind myself that the only way I’ll close that gap is to practice.

I have to publish the stuff that I think no one will care about because I’m probably wrong. There’s a whole lot of people out there, someone is going to get some value out of what I have to say.

The nice thing is that I love making things. I really do, and that’s reason enough to make them. And I love sharing what I make with the internet. So I’m going to stop preventing myself from doing what I love!

So I’m going to tell my inner critic to shut up more often, to resist the impulse to lurk. Instead, I’ll get feedback from others, and learn by doing. I’m putting my trust in you, internet. To tell me when I can do better, and where our interests overlap.

This has been a very different article than what I typically post. I don’t usually do public commitments, but this time I felt like I couldn’t actually stick to this unless I posted publicly about it, that’s kinda the whole point 😂.

Since I like to end on a question, I’d like to ask this: Are you someone, or do you know someone, who is struggling because of feelings like this? Let me know, I’d really love to connect with more people who struggle with this.

Discussion (13)

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breeny profile image
Andrew Breen 👨‍💻

I have this feeling but with creating tutorial videos. I have the technical know how on video creation, but every time I sit down and record something, I get about half way through the filming process and decide it won't be good enough.

Definitely on my list to get over the confidence hump and just put something out there to the world.

samborick profile image
Sam Borick Author

Right! One thing that has helped me get through creating something is to think of it as a first draft. I'll make a rough version, and I'll decide what to do with it after I have that draft. It helps me think "of course I don't love this yet, it's a rough draft!"

perpetual_education profile image
perpetual . education

It's hard!!! And then you have to edit it... BUT - it gets easier! : )

rad_val_ profile image
Valentin Radu • Edited

I do experience this as well, however, I don't see it as fear. Sometimes you have an idea and you start writing, then, as you write, you understand the topic better and it either feels rather obvious or doesn't feel like it brings a lot of value. So you stop. I wouldn't call that "fear", just a way of keeping the internet free of useless opinions (not that it's not already full of it, but doing my part!)

samborick profile image
Sam Borick Author

I felt this way too! Here's how I worked through it: 'keeping the internet free of useless opinions' is not a good thing. The internet isn't like a crowded room. When you're saying something, it's not like you're talking over someone else. There is actually room for everyone to say however much they want.

Also when you're spent a while learning something, things that seem obvious to you, won't seem obvious to others. It can be especially helpful for people who are at an earlier stage of their learning journey.

Just my 2¢!

jswiss profile image
Joshua Swiss

I totally relate to this. While I normally think of myself as a decent writer, I sometimes struggle with writing from a purely instructional or technical perspective, and will labour over specific wordings for ages. But, like everyone is saying, practice makes you improve!

perpetual_education profile image
perpetual . education

Most authors only share a small portion of their work. You still learned in the process, right? - but also - on the other hand - you could just PUBLISH EVERYTHING... and then edit it later / as you learn from thinking it over and from the responses. We like the idea of blog posts and things like that being ever-changing resources instead of the one-off once-read / read it or it's gone! Type. Maybe getting some feedback earlier would help?

okeeffed profile image
Dennis O'Keeffe

I've always been really into this Andy Warhol quote:

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

While the quote could be interpreted in a few ways, it is something I think about a lot when it comes to releasing content (be it videos, music, programming, whatever).

Aiming high is a fantastic attribute, but for me, as soon as it becomes a hindrance or makes me anxious about releasing something, it feels more relevant than ever.

There is also something I am paraphrasing from a podcast I heard from the CEO of a pen testing startup (sadly, I forget the name) that said something along the lines of, "For every bad actor, there are one thousand more good ones." While it is meant to be about hacking, I feel like you could bring it across to the idea of people who will read and learn from your content if you have worries about the responses you may get. Positive intent is something we need more of in the world.

Everyone is different and none of the above is advice, but I think about those two ideas often and it helps my own personal paradigm. It may help yours!

samborick profile image
Sam Borick Author

I absolutely love this quote! Totally encapsulates the way that I want to engage with the stuff I make.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I have to publish the stuff that I think no one will care about because I’m probably wrong.

It helps to think that if you mean well and you're trying your best, you're likely to post something that at least one person will find valuable.

The number of times I've written something up, had hesitations, and then published it anyway where someone follows up saying "this is just what I was looking for" or "I needed to hear this" are enumerable.

I suspect this very post is one of those.

And when the topic is at all related to solving a problem, you never know when you're someone's DenverCoder9 (but with the answer).


samborick profile image
Sam Borick Author

Exactly! I also think about it like I'm the 1 person that will find it valuable. Often I write something up for future me, because I'll totally forget whatever I learned just now.

spiritbro1 profile image

please post we need more knowledge

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I usually have a bunch of draft posts hanging around that I thought weren't good enough.