The Rush to Submit

Photo by  NeONBRAND

Photo by NeONBRAND

Originally published in: The Writing Cooperative

We’ve all been there.

That point where we’ve done (most of) the work.

All the minutes, hours, and days of painstaking research, humming and hawing…have finally culminated in the form of a piece of work that you can be proud of.

Almost.

You’ve begun to fine tune this masterpiece, adding all the fancy synonyms, eloquent phrases, and other final touches that will set this apart from the rest.

And, in your excitement, you hastily proclaim: “This is it! I’m done!”

3 seconds later you press submit, send, or publish.

It’s over. You did it!

…but was it ready?

In my prideful haste to just be done with something, I’ve submitted pieces ridden with spelling mistakes, poor wording that conveys a message that opposes that which I intended, and have somehow managed to entirely gloss over vital components.

Hindsight is always 20:20, but I find it tremendously helpful to ruminate on this habit; such a reflection informs me as to how I can become a better writer, as well as a better human.

So, in hindsight, I see that when I get the excitable anxiety inherent to the end of a long project, I often lose perspective.

My over-eagerness makes the extra 5 minutes that it would take to have just one final read through seem the equivalent of running an Ultra Marathon.

It’s so important, at least for me, to read what I write. And, more importantly, to be in conscious of the state of mind that I am in as I finalize something. I therefore endeavor to proof read with as much of a beginners mind as is available to me in the moment.

What this often requires is taking a step back, forcing myself to create separation from this entity to which I have become so attached.

This simple (but not easy) practice can ensure that your voice is coming through, and that you sound like yourself as opposed to what you think others want you to sound like, and that you do your best work.

Give yourself that extra five minutes.

This can be the make or break. While the bulk of the work may well be done (good job!) and it could just be a question of cutting and pasting a paragraph here and there, these simple changes can be the difference between flowing writing that you’re proud of, and something that seems hastily scrapped together.

As I write this very article, I’m excited at the prospect of putting it out there. Perhaps overly so.

This topic is something that I’ve dealt with time and again in my own work. I feel as though I’ve now gotten to a point where I’m more mindful about the state I’m in when I’m posting, to the degree that I can articulate this internal process in a way that I believe can help others.

I’m excited about sharing this because I think it’s something I think others can benefit from, and being of service is for me a deeply fulfilling use of my time and energy.

Yet as I near the supposed end of this piece, I’m conscious of the fact that I really don’t feel like reading it out loud for what seems like the millionth time in order to be certain that I’ve done my best work.

So much of me is desires to hit that beautiful “Ready to publish?” button and feel all the achievement and pride that comes with that.

The only better feeling? Taking the time to get up, step away from this desk, practicing patience and the pleasure that comes with delayed gratification.

Taking a few minutes to breathe, shake, and jiggle all the anxiousness that’s worked its way into me throughout the days that I’ve worked on various projects.

This advice is as much for me as it is for anyone reading: take your time!

Photo by  Ray Hennessy

Photo by Ray Hennessy

Your audience isn’t going to disappear overnight.

Find a setting, time, and habit that you can recreate time and again to ensure that you feel present as you conclude a work.

Mornings, for example, are when I feel the freshest. I have a routine that sets me up well for presence and clear-headedness throughout the day. So it is during this time that, after my morning practice, I revisit works that I thought were ‘done’ the previous day.

Having given myself time to sleep on it, I return with no feeling of being rushed to finish. I’m able to read the work with new eyes, as though I am the lucky first reader of a newly published article.

Through this process, I am better able to see the paragraphs that I sprinted through in my edits. I can set a more mindful intention as to what I hope my work can do for the world, and I feel better because of it.

If you have the time and are ahead of any deadlines that you may have, one extra day (or even minute) can’t hurt.

Slow and steady wins the race : )