My fingers dance over the keyboard, hesitating to click “Submit” on my first post for Vermont Mom. I read it over for the 20th time, hoping to catch any inevitable errors prior to my editor’s review. Am I really ready for this?
These and other thoughts fill my brain each time I go to share my ideas with the world, but even more so now that I am publishing my writing. Frankly, it’s downright terrifying.
It’s not that writing is scary. Writing has always been a freeing experience for me. I’ve found my medium for connecting with others, sharing my vulnerabilities with the world, all while finding my new community of parents and caregivers who can relate to these shared experiences and struggles.
I can’t tell you how many times, for instance, I have wanted to reach out to another parent to commiserate on a similar struggle. To add my voice to the droves of women who have experienced a miscarriage to let them know they are not alone. Or the parent who’s quarantined for over a year, questioning how much longer they can live in isolation. Whatever the situation, I knew there was someone else on the other side of the screen who might take comfort in my story.
But it’s the idea of making that leap official and putting my writing out there publically that leaves me feeling so vulnerable.
Not only do I question my writing chops, but also my credentials. What about those average grades I got on college papers bleeding with red marker? Or the posts I shared on Facebook that I deleted days after because they were littered with grammatical errors? What happens if my thoughts change after I’ve learned new information? Ugh, when will I ever be enough?! These thoughts are enough to stop me from sharing my writing altogether.
The easy solution would be for me to continue what I’ve been doing; only sharing my thoughts with my close family and friends and self-publishing. I’d be guarding myself against the world of online trolls and avoiding the critique of an editor whose only intent is to enhance my writing and teach me along the way.
But, here’s what I’m realizing: In order to be a better writer, I must be willing to be vulnerable, suck a little (or a lot), and be open to changing my perspective. Sure, the permanence of the writing I will publish as a contributing writer with Vermont Mom and the lack of current wisdom scare me a lot! Once published, I will no longer have the luxury of easily deleting a post I no longer agree with or have grown from. I might realize despite several rounds of revision that one grammatical error still lingers. Despite these concerns, I hope I can look back and appreciate my own bravery in being vulnerable in becoming a contributing writer with Vermont Mom.
My public vulnerability also means inviting others into the messy middle. Often in the journey of trying something new, my natural inclination is to turn inward, wanting to be perfect before I show myself to the world I can’t tell you how many instruments I’ve picked up only to drop because I just couldn’t get past that hard, painful phase of being terrible and making other people’s ears bleed. Alas, there is no YouTube video that will help turn me into a great writer in the matter of one hour or less (I’ve looked).
What I can do, though, is learn from my fellow writers. The ones who have gone before me and made a similar leap. Vermont Mom contributing writers who were vulnerable enough to publish an article… and then do it again and again and again. What would they tell a novice such as me who’s just about to start this journey as a contributing writer with Vermont Mom alongside them? Here are a few of those tips:
- Emotions are a good thing. They improve your writing and help you connect with your readers.
- Sure, it might have already been done, but it’s never been done by you. Your unique perspective and voice matter.
- Think about what other parents are reading about at 2 am. The moms who are up in the middle of the night struggling to breastfeed, the child who’s sick with a mystery illness, parents awake, worrying about the big move ahead. How can you help soothe those worries? How can you connect with these insomniacs, and make them feel like they’re not alone?
- Throw out everything you learned in high school about writing essays and research papers and instead write as though you’re having a conversation with a friend.
- Find a good editor or person in your corner. They’ll help you consider new ideas, revise your work, and be that second pair of eyes we all desperately need.
- Write about your passions.
- You are not meant to suffer. If writing about a particular topic feels like a chore, don’t do it.
- Writing is like any other skill: the more you write, the better you will get at it.
I’d like to think most of the tips offered by veteran contributing writers with Vermont Mom can be applicable to anyone starting something new.
Whether it’s writing, starting a new career, learning a new skill, or becoming a parent, learning something new shares the elements of vulnerability, passion, truth, and community. And if you’re lucky, like me, your journey will give you a new set of mentors and friends. You’ll know who they are because they’re learning, growing, crying, and celebrating alongside you.
I look forward to sharing more of my publishing writing journey with you and hearing about your struggles, as well. I hope you’ll find comfort in my screw-ups and appreciate that misplaced comma that will inevitably sneak in my posts. A big thanks to my village, the old and the new, for creating a safe space for me to mess up and practice this skill. Here’s to us, the imperfectly perfect learners!
Pin this post and be sure to follow Vermont Mom on Pinterest!
Make sure you don’t miss any of our engaging and relevant blog posts about Vermont, parenting, and life! And, of course, our awesome events! Don’t miss out- sign up for our weekly newsletter today.