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Roundtable: The Scariest Post I Ever Published

Putting yourself out there for the world to judge can feel isolating and scary — but can also be the start of great things.

Photo by Colink, (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Lots of bloggers, old and new, are intimidated by the publish button. Crafting a post is one thing; making it available for the entire world to see and comment on, another. Indeed, fear of the publish button has stopped many a blogger before they even begin.

Think you’re alone in being nervous, and that the rest of us are happily and confidently clicking publish on our perfect, better-than-yours posts? Think again! Heck, I get the jibbles every time I publish something here on The Daily Post — putting yourself out there is, for most of us, an inherently nerve-wracking proposition.

But! When you overcome those nerves and send your creations out into the wild, beautiful things happen. Below, Daily Post writers share some of the posts they were most scared to publish — and what happened when they did.

superman curlMichelle Weber (That’s me!)

Aside from being nervous about this post right now, the piece that gave me the most agita was one I published on one of my personal blogs earlier this year. A friend had just taken her own life, and in grappling with that, I decided to write about my own struggles with depression. While I’ve always been open and willing to share my mental health history, I’d never before spoken publicly about some of the episodes I ended up describing in the post; on top of that, I was terrified that my post would be interpreted as co-opting someone else’s experience to talk about my own. But I felt like the story wanted to be told, so I took a deep breath and clicked the button…

… and then immediately had second thoughts: what kind of judgment was I opening myself up to? As it turned out, none at all. Not only did people appreciate the post for what it was, but I got emails, tweets, text messages, and comments from readers, friends, coworkers, and total strangers thanking me for writing it. It ended up being a cathartic experience that made me more fearless as a writer.

benBen Huberman

Almost a year ago, in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, the blogging community (or communities) responded with an outpouring of emotion and pointed debate. Our team decided not to keep mum, thinking we should instead serve as an outlet for some of that energy coming out of the blogs we read every day.

If your post can help even one reader out there work through a difficult time, just write it. It’s worth it.

I ended up writing a roundup of 10 bloggers who reacted to the events in Ferguson. And I was petrified. I live in Canada and I’ve never had to endure racial discrimination. At the same time, St. Louis, a city where I’d lived for a year, was close to my heart, as are issues of social justice more broadly. Do I even have the right to determine which voices matter and which don’t? What if I screw up badly, or offend thousands of readers? (That post was to be published on The WordPress.com Blog, which enjoys a broad readership.)

In the end, I just had to trust my judgment. I’m glad I did: the voices represented in that post mattered then, and still do now. The overwhelmingly positive reaction showed me that it’s fine to touch on sensitive topics, and to stake a measured, thought-out position. If your post can help even one reader out there work through a difficult time, just write it. It’s worth it.

Sara RossoSara Rosso

When a post almost makes you sick to your stomach to publish, you know you’re in the right place.

I just posted something that was really hard to write, and pressing the publish button was the hardest part. The article clocked in at over 2,400 words, but it was one of the faster posts I’ve ever written because the narrative was already inside of me, and one I’d been sharing offline.

But we all know that private conversations or even those had during small gatherings are not the same as publishing to the World Wide Web, aka The Internets, where strangers can find your content and judge or berate you. And this subject — being an independent woman in a relationship — was very troll-ready.

But I thought if I could at least help one other person, it was worth it, and that thinking is at the heart of why I founded my site When I Have Time, where I post information I share with friends and family about technology and running a business. My heart was in this content. So I pressed publish.

So far the response has been great, and I’ve definitely surpassed my goal of helping at least one other person. I was hesitant to press publish, but I’m glad I did. The message, that you can love wholeheartedly and also be responsible about your future, is too important.

andrea badgleyAndrea Badgley

Last year I was part of a group who met once a week to work on the craft of writing. In one session, we explored the collage form. The form gripped me, but only with regards to a specific topic: Lunacy.

When I finished my piece, which took hold of my mind and did not release me for at least a week of obsessed research and writing, I wanted to close my notebook and never look at it again. It was too revealing.

When I thought of publishing it on my blog, my gut reaction was No. Way. Lunacy was unlike anything else I had ever written, much less published. It was obscure and experimental. It made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I was proud of it privately, but putting it out in the world was terrifying. I had poured myself into it: what if real writers laughed at my silly attempt? What if nobody got it?

But.

That one person who got it was worth all the fear.

As Sara mentioned above, when you are scared to share, that’s when you know you are at the heart of things. So I published. And not only did writers quietly reach out to tell me, “Me too,” “I know how you feel,” and “I’m glad I’m not the only one,” but something bigger happened. My experimental post moved someone. And not just anyone: my Uncle Syd, a connoisseur of words and the man I credit with introducing me to some of the finest literature I’ve read in my life. He read my post, and it moved him, and he got it, and that one person who got it was worth all the fear.

cheri lucas rowlandsCheri Lucas Rowlands

Three years ago, I wrote a post called “That Thing I Wrote That Wasn’t True,” in which I describe a decision I made, when writing my memoir, that was hurtful — and made me feel dirty. It was the first time I admitted shaping a fact to create conflict in my story, so I was nervous about publishing the post.

While I get personal on my own blog, there are still topics I tiptoe around. I’ve got one reader out there that holds me back: my mother. She’s my biggest fan, but I’m not yet at a point where I can let go. This particular post also brushed over parts of my past that I’d not blogged about publicly, so I was scared about what my mom would think.

When I responded and told her I was afraid she’d be disappointed by stories that show me in a negative light, she cried. In our experiences, we learn and grow, she wrote. I won’t ever forget this exchange.

I still have an email she sent me after this post was published, telling me to “keep up the great writing.” When I responded and told her I was afraid she’d be disappointed by stories that show me in a negative light, she cried. In our experiences, we learn and grow, she wrote. I won’t ever forget this exchange: I realized she supported me and my process of writing.

I continue to swim these blogging waters with trepidation, experimenting with what and how I write, or where this writing lives online. It’s natural to be scared of pressing publish.

—————-

You might be nervous to publish something personal and momentous, or to publish anything at all for public scrutiny. And that’s okay! We all get nervous. Give yourself a pep talk, gird your loins, and click the publish button — giving voice to your story is one of the most powerful and fulfilling things you can do.

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  1. The scariest post I ever published was this one, which I posted three years ago when our community lost a good person to suicide: http://www.marsgonemad.com/2012/11/13/remember-to-live/

    I was so scared of the reaction I would get; that people would just think I was taking advantage of the situation to get blog views. But it ended up being the most well-received blog I had written at that time. Normally, hitting the publish button is nothing to be scared of, no matter what the situation. Sometimes the more scared you are, the better the post is.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. All the posts highlighted here show that being open, and vulnerable in our writing is very powerful. People tend to appreciate honesty and bravery – perhaps because it sort of gives them permission to be that way too.

    Thanks all.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. My scariest post was actually one of my first posts:

    http://atypical60.com/2015/01/19/my-hair-lady-the-bald-and-the-beautiful/

    First of all, I had no idea of what I was doing to begin with. The blog was brand new and I was totally putting myself and the biggest issue with my appearance out there. I was desparately trying to acquire readers, but I was petrified that if anyone read my hairloss plight they would just go “Eww–what a lunatic” and never read my blog again!

    Then Ii thought good and haired (I mean good and hard). I’m putting myself out there because I WANT people to see that I’m NOT perfect. I’m tired of perfection and others need to know and see that some of us are just hot messes!

    I haven’t been blogging that long and I don’t have many readers, but the ones I have–they are now my little “club”. They are my friends. They share with me just as much as I share with them. They are the people who have helped relieve me of any doubts I have in what I write! They have taught me that nothing is off-limits because anyone can relate to the mistakes and errors I make. They can relate to my failures just as much as my success. I am no longer afraid to open the window to my life–thanks to clicking the “publish” button and thanks to the people who read me!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I hear you on the “tired of perfection” comment; when online profiles were such a new thing (I’m remembering the days of Friendster and MySpace and the types of profile pictures I used to upload — oh dear), I was pretty obsessed with pruning my account and making it just so.

      Four years ago, when I was beginning to understand how much I disliked Facebook, I published a post comparing my status updates with the “real” ones I could have posted instead, which your comment reminded me of. I’ve found in my own networking and online reading habits that I’m drawn to people and stories that reveal challenges and flaws — not perfection.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Right???? At times, I’m STILL intimidated by the kinds of posts people put up on FB. I’m like–damn, I’m SUCH a loser at times! That’s why I love blogging. Its me. Just me–take it as I am me! I feel much more comfortable!

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I have gotten to that point myself. I’m not perfect, and neither are a lot of writers. Even wrote a post about it. We’re all human and not all of us majored in English.

      I have gotten only a teeny tiny handful of views since I started my website/blog a week or so ago. And I know I’m going to eventually receive some harsh comments, but I hit the publish button in hopes that something I wrote will connect with someone.

      So I have begun writing about things on my mind and past life experiences. Wait… past experiences that happened in my life. No… life past… Anyway!

      You’ll never be able to please everyone all of the time. You can only please some of the people some of the time. With that said, as a writer/now blogger, it is essential to develop a tough skin. I’d suggest starting an investment in a good lotion.

      Accept that the bad will come. Because it will! Just do what in your heart feels right and move on. There’s a season for everything.

      Like

  4. I can relate. Every time I’m about to hit that publish button, I pray. A lot! I’ve had posts that have had rave reviews and posts where I have been torn to shreds. It’s what we all face when we endeavor to blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The first blog was scary in that I did not know what the reaction would be, since I had never unleashed or shown a creative side before to my friends and family. By my fourth blog I managed to shake that fear and open up about some of the loneliness I used to feel before I met my wife. But I think even scarier than those two was one particular section of a four part series I wrote earlier this year. It was the worst time of my life, full of self pity and anger. And then something outside my world happened that slapped those feelings right out of me and made me essentially say, wake up stupid, you’re alive. It was scary to relive that time (I was fighting back tears writing about it) because I did not know how others would view my words about that time. In the end I did not have to fear, and I received a few comments about the passage in question that made me glad to have written about it. I read other blogs and take comfort and strength from the words of some who have gone through so much more than I have. Exposing parts of you that have been private to the world is very scary, but I realized that

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hitting the button can be one of the scariest experiences, I decided to diversify my blog a bit by adding a little literature, i.e. poetry and short stories and hopefully in the process better my writing too. (I had stopped writing fiction a while then, only writing articles). My first poetry post was my scariest, especially considering I hardly got a nod of appreciation for anything I put up, but I did it anyways and the reception was….heartbreaking. I still dont know if it was absolutely horrid or good or just plain passable, and in truth Ill never know (I tried categorizing my older work and ended up losing some of my posts) but in the end I was glad I did, I think its believing im not “that good” yet that really drives me to bettering myself better, I see a huge improvement now, from no likes to at least 5 (that’s a lot if you’ve been where I’ve been) and im only in my 3rd year of blogging. I’m glad i took that risk, it pushed me like no rejection ever had. Hit the publish button, close your eyes and cross your fingers, good will make you happy no doubt, but let not good inspire you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just wrote a very personal piece and hit publish with much trepidation. After which, I found this article. I could say I am breathing a little easier, but that is a lie. Here is the post: https://escapetosevilla.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/roses-part-one-inspiration/
    I would like to add that it is also hard to read other bloggers very personal posts, but that it truly makes the reader feel closer to the writer. We feel very unalone when we see the struggles everyone faces.

    all the best,
    the (esc)ape artist

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My very first blog entry was the hardest. It opened up about my marriage and the struggles we’ve faced the past two years. We kept up a good front, but at home we were falling apart and on the verge of divorcing. I blogged about what we went through and how we are working on getting back to a good place in our relationship, and how contrary to popular belief, marriage actually is the hardest job in the world. For the first time in a long time, I felt that weight lifted after I hit the publish button. Someone out there knew my story, and I was no longer alone.
    https://thenewishwife.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/hello-world/

    Like

  9. I think I’m always afraid to hit the public button as mine are about my kids. I’m always afraid someone’s going to judge my kids or my parenting. Because 9 times out of 10 my blogging is posting the stuff I’m frustrated about as a parent and not the good, happy, fun stuff. And honestly, it’s the craptastic stuff that happens most often too, so that’s what’s written about most often. So I do often feel like I’m opening myself and my children up to people staring, judging, and forming biased, one-sided opinions without ever getting to really know them or me or the collective family unit “us” as a while and it scares me every single time. But I blog about it because I also think I cannot be the only parent with kiddos like this out here and some day some parent like this might stumble across this and think omg I’m not alone! I know I always wish I had or would. And if I can do that someday for even just one parent, it would be so completely worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The most difficult post I ever clicked publish on was about my experience of living with the grief of stillbirth, a particular type of bereavement. I was worried about how it would be received because my blog is all about my family life as immigrants to America, our travels in our new location and experiences in our new environment, plus a smattering of my art. I don’t usually write about such thought-provoking or emotional subjects. I also don’t tend to expose myself in terms of sharing my emotions. I felt very vulnerable writing it. I almost didn’t publish it at all but I made a decision years ago to do all I could to end stillbirth and baby loss being a taboo subject so publish I did. I don’t regret it.

    https://pictinpa.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/the-scab-of-grief/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great article and really true. My golden rule is always write from a place of truth, so I’ve been writing my blog since October 2013 about me and Thai boxing. I’m not an amazing fighter although I’ve had a few fights now. It’s not something that comes easy to me but I have been here 8 and a half years and will be for many years. The key thing is that this is my journey and I love sharing it through the ups and downs. Writing to me is like sitting down talking to a friend about what I do and where I am at.

    I’m working on another writing project very close to my heart because its about my life. Years ago I used to be a drug addict. I ruined my life. I’m now an IT professional and a martial artist. My story is about personal change and so is my blog. I’ve gone to some uncomfortable places of late but going back to them when they are there on the virtual paper in the virtual ink is a beautiful experience. My biggest fear is judgement when and if I get what I am writing out there. I have a whole lot to say. This has really inspired me. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Encouraging words!! I have quite a few posts that have been scary. I always look at what many of the above writers shared: If I only help one person, even if I am that person, it is worth all the words and fears that go into the hard posts. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  13. Wow – I think I’m in shock at how much I can actually relate to all that’s been written in this post. I look to you DP editors/writers as being the “real deal” so in a scary, yet at the same time encouraging way, it makes me kinda think “hey, if I feel like that too, maybe I have what they have in me to be a great writer too”. That in itself was scary to write. And now I’m a tad afraid to hit the “Send” button. FEAR: Face Everything And Recover -OR – Fornicate Everything And Run. Well, here goes … Marianne

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this. The five of you are inspirational. Continually, I have a few sensitive topics floating around in my mind that I have written about privately many times, but I haven’t unveiled in detail publicly or on my blog. One day I am hoping to find the courage, and I think I will, but it is hard. Reading your stories definitely gives me courage.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In a way, my tiptoeing around sensitive topics has schooled me in subtlety — writing without banging my reader over the head with a hammer, so in this sense I’ve had a chance to play with style and tone. And I’ve found that what you don’t say — what is suggested in the white space — can be just as powerful.

      That said, this is just one way to approach my writing, and I continue to push myself to put myself out there more.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Subtlety definitely makes sense. I feel like I have alluded to some serious issues on my blog, for example postpartum struggles, but haven’t laid out all the nitty gritty. Subtlety was comfortable at the time. I tell myself that one day if the right audience emerges I can expand on my turbulent experiences, but for now I try to keep it light on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I recently started blogging and evry time i think of writing a post or pressing that ppublsh button, I get the jitters. The reason being, my blog is based on my life experiences and I write on social issues and causes. But reading this post and the experience of these writers gives me the strength to continue. If I can help at least one person with my blog posts, I would consider my job well done.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I just started a blog and I definitely go through the fear of publishing. I have tons of ideas and I brainstorm, but part of me wants it to be “perfect” before I publish it. But one of the things I enjoy about other bloggers’ posts is their genuine, raw voice. My husband tells me, “just write and be you”, and this post has reminded me of his words and encouraged me to do just that!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I have just started blogging and finding my way around..i dont know what my writing type is or whether i will make sense. I guess i will just have to feel my way along and hope for the best..:)

    Like

  18. I’ve held off on a few of my heartfelt posts. I fear I may regret being that vulnerable, yet I appreciate it when others do the same. Yet I’m learning so many people in the blogging world deal with the same issues I do (bipolar disorder being a big one) and this is a forum where I can begin to feel it’s acceptable by interacting with others who live with it as a normal part of their lives.

    Liked by 3 people