I sat there, was frozen in my chair.
I was filled with the familiar panic that inevitably comes right before you’re forced to stand up in front of class or open your mouth during a meeting at work.
This time, I wasn’t in front of a group of people.
I was all alone, staring at a single button on my laptop screen.
This wasn’t just any button — it captured the two scariest words for any insecure writer getting ready to share their first piece of writing with the world:
Individually, these words aren’t that bad.
The word “publish” comes with the territory of writing, but it usually pops up after a big break or a viral tweet. The word “now” simply means doing something immediately, like eating when you’re hangry or finding a bathroom after you eat Jack in the Box tacos because you were too hangry to find actual food.
Together, these two words can instill fear quicker than clicking, “Reply all” and sending that questionable GIF to everyone in the office.
Combined, “Publish now” means you’re about to send a piece of yourself out into the wild for anyone and everyone to pick apart and criticize.
This goes doubly for all of you self-labeled perfectionists out there.¹
The words “Publish now” are probably the most panic-inducing words you can see considering they disregard your delicate senses and your astronomically high standards.
If this sounds like you, I have some tough love to dish out:
At this point, I think perfectionism is a big, steaming pile of shit.
It gives too many people an excuse for not sharing their work with others.
It’s easy to claim that since you’re a perfectionist, you can’t share something until it’s “perfect.”
Since I assume all of you reading this are smarter than me, I’m going to also assume you can see the flawed logic here.
My ongoing battle with perfectionism has made me a pretty big fan of Ernest Hemingway’s famous mantra about writing that also just happens to be the title of this story.