It’s amazing how much anxiety writing can cause writers the moment the words “publish” and “audience” come into play.
I see this all the time with clients, colleagues, friends, and fellow freelancers. The moment their writing has a platform, the anxiety settles in. What if someone critiques the work? What if someone makes a personal comment? What if it does poorly?
Even outside of a writing context, we’ve all experienced worry about external pressures at some point in our lives. Worry is messy, uncomfortable, and natural.
Within the context of writing and communications, I think worry is a good thing. Worrying about our work and how it might affect our reputation makes us more accountable for what we say. In many cases, worry forces us to do better research and really think through the implications of our words. I can think of quite a few people who could afford to worry more about their communications. (I’m looking at you, Donald!)
Jokes aside, there’s value in approaching our worries from this angle. Think of worry as the writer’s built-in public relations tool: it plays out every possible scenario of things going wrong. When approached constructively, writers can use their worries to strengthen an argument, provide further resources, clarify statements, or reframe their approach if the subject matter calls for it. These adjustments are all valuable parts of the writing process, even if they do sometimes come from a source of anxiety or concern.
Of course, adjustments that respond to worry must always be done within reason. No one wants to read a piece that lacks tone, style, and opinion. Just as there’s value in worrying about reception, there’s also just as much value in being comfortable with the work you share.
Finding that balance between worrying and confidence is the hard part.