5 Tips to Help You Press Publish for the First Time
July 30, 2021
Writing your first article can be tough. There isn’t any rulebook as such on what to write, or what will capture people’s interest —it’s completely up to you to create the magic.
I ran around in circles for months trying to write my first few articles, trying to find my voice and what people enjoyed reading. It took a while, but I finally managed to get past the initial hurdle.
If you’re reading and struggling to push Publish on your first article, here’s 5 simple tips to help you get over the hurdle.
Read the work of others
While it may seem counter-intuitive, the best place I found to start was reading the work of others.
When you're not sure how to put an article together, what your style of writing is or how to put an article together, reading is the equivalent of doing some research on a topic you know nothing about.
The best part about this is,
Reading is a great way to emulate this in terms of writing. You can see what articles are trending, and gain some insights that can help direct you.
That’s not to say copy others — never copy others.
Just see what is out in the writing universe, what people like reading, the types of articles that are being read, the styles of articles being read, what isn’t getting read, etc.\
Strategise your ideas before you start writing
Take some time to think through what you actually want to write about before you start writing.
I believe “locking in” your ideas is crucial because, at some stage, you may run out of steam and start questioning what you’re actually writing about.
Find an idea or topic that interests you, and formulate points that work within that topic.
Once you’ve decided on your high-level ideas, lock them in and create a skeleton of your article.
If you’re not “feeling” the strategy you have in mind, start over or try something else. Having doubts about your ideas can mean getting distracted as you’re trying to write.
Give yourself a deadline
When you’re writing your first article, you’ve got all the time in the world.
No deadlines, nobody pushing you — you’re likely doing it on your own terms.
However, the problem is that you have all the time in the world — there’s no deadline in sight.
Introducing a deadline into the mix forces you to concentrate on writing, and less on the tiny details that may not make too much of an impact.
Everyone works on different timeframes, so I don’t have a magic number for your deadline — find a number that works for you.
Whether it’s five hours or two weeks, the number isn’t important — it’s sticking to it, and feeling the heat as you approach the end.
When I wrote my first few articles, I found that it took me weeks to write an article because I would stress over every single detail — and even longer to actually hit “Publish”.
Once I introduced a deadline into the mix, I was forced to concentrate on writing and less on questioning the tiniest details in my article.
Take the time to make your article look beautiful
When you’re competing for eyeballs against against an army of other bloggers/writers, I believe that good presentation is crucial.
When you’re publishing for the first time, having a nice-looking piece can be a great way to give off the vibe that this isn’t actually your first time.
From my experience, it also helps to keep people’s interest and makes your article easier to “digest”.
If you’re publishing on platforms such as Medium, use the tools that are provided to you.
There are a range of things to play with, such as paragraph length, spacing, text styles, imagery and so on — these things differs by platforms.
At the end of the day, who doesn’t love reading an article that also looks great?
If you’re unsure about publishing, ask someone to read your draft
After all the hard work is done and you’re looking at a finished article, pressing the Publish button can be hard.
When you’ve reached what feels like the end of building your article, lots of questions start creeping into your mind.
Is it really finished? Is what I’m saying wrong? Will this resonate with people? Are people going to get angry? Is there some major mistake here?
A great way to overcome the last hurdle is by asking someone else to take a look at your final works. You might have a friend that can give you some honest feedback, or you can even try out The Writing Cooperative’s Slack #drafts channel.
Having that final bit of validation can be a great way to get that article out the door.
Importantly, don’t forget that learning any new skill is tough.
Think about how hard it was trying to ride a bike for the first time, or learning to drive a car.
Plenty of people have sat where you are sitting now. Myself included.
It will get better.