I’ve just spent the last week in Los Angeles, learning new coaching techniques and also attending a business workshop where I had to look within and face my fears. It was confronting, as I realised that the biggest impediment to my business is myself, but also rewarding, as I realised that I can control what I do.
Although I’m no longer an academic, I do write content, such as this blog. Do I feel nervous every time I hit ‘publish’ in WordPress? Yes! In fact, I spent two years actively avoiding writing and launching this blog. I made all the excuses – I was too busy, I didn’t have anything useful to say, I was just repeating what everyone already knows, etc. But then I looked at the struggles of my clients and realised that this blog was a way to help others who have the same struggles. And so I put my fears (of criticism, of judgement, of imposter syndrome) to one side and decided to ‘just do it’.
When I talk to academics who have half-finished articles sitting on their computer, they first tell me that they just don’t have the time to write. I know that they’re busy. But upon further discussion, they admit to me that there is some fear around submitting their papers. Because, when an article is sitting on your computer, it is safe. Leaving it half-finished is a way of protecting yourself from criticism or rejection by an academic journal. On the other hand, when you submit a manuscript, you put yourself at risk. If your article is rejected it might make you feel that your work isn’t good enough, that your writing isn’t good enough or, sometimes, that you aren’t good enough.
If you find yourself unable to finish and submit your journal article, here are some things that might help you:
- Think about the people who participated in your study. How would they feel if they knew that your paper hadn’t seen the light of day, months or years after the study was finished?
- Remember that the sheer number of articles being submitted to journals means that some papers will get rejected, even if they are good enough to be published.
- Understand that writing is subjective – even bestselling books have their detractors. Your article is being judged by a few people, but a rejection by them is not universal condemnation. There is a journal that wants to publish your paper; it may just take a little while to find it.
Leaving your paper half-finished on your computer means that its chances of getting published is 0%. Submitting it somewhere means that you increase the odds of publication. And that’s a chance worth taking.