The FOCP Syndrome: curable or not?

The fear of clicking “Publish” Syndrome (FOCP)

To give you a little context.
You get on the mighty Internet, start a new Medium account, realise what a good bargain it is to pay 5$/month and have access to great content from all the publications you stalk online, pay the 5$ → become a member and start thinking you are going to be writing on autopilot.
Naturally, after you become a cool member, you do write occasionally, but rarely-to-never publish anything.
Sounds familiar?

When I started this account at the beginning of the year, I thought I would write every single day.
It felt good to see that Member circle around my “la vita e bella” profile picture.

This will surely inspire me to write and write and write, but also publish, publish, publish and people will read, read, read. (My obsessive unaware self, Jan 2018)

I did write. Almost every single day, but I never published any of these articles, and only 3 of them have seen the light in the past 3 months.
This got me thinking lately: Why am I so afraid to set my thoughts free?
I am surely not afraid to speak my mind up around people.
Are my thoughts that intimate?

I (copy)write for a living, ok? Recently, I started to question how is copywriting so different from writing? The first one ends with the second one.
For instance, in advertising — copywriters rarely create content. We are most likely requested to come up with catchy phrases and short mind-blowing descriptions, but rarely a 2-page document on [insert brand name here]. And that is amazing for work purposes, it nicely sells the idea, but it doesn’t help me in my personal life. This is how my dilemma started.

After years of creating countless headlines and USPs, I have come to the unsettling conclusion that my overall writing habit might have been damaged in the process of trying to encapsulate 10 ideas into two concise words daily.

A blank page now scares me. I tend to shorten every phrase, and it bothers me that it has become harder to just write freely about nothing and everything at the same time as I used to do for hours in the past.

If you are anything like me and I honestly hope you are not, I will share a few of my lamest excuses:

  1. There are just too many things to write about; I can’t pick one. 🤷🏼‍♀️
  2. I don’t have a brief. It would be a lot easier if I had one. 🧜🏻‍♀️
  3. Can’t focus. I will lay in bed and look at the white ceiling whilst contemplating true existentialism. 💆🏼‍♀️
  4. There’s too much white on this blank page. How can I change the background colour in Microsoft Word? By the way, you totally can. 🙋🏼‍♀️
  5. I have to delete everything I have written so far, and no one would buy it. 🤦🏼‍♀️
  6. I am too tired to proofread. Can’t publish something that hasn’t been triple checked. Twice. 🧞‍♀️
  7. Proofreading sucks. I will add this to the other hundreds of drafts. 💁🏼‍♀️
  8. I am too tired. Maybe I will feel more inspired after I sleep. 🙇🏼‍♀️
  9. Fuck it. 🙅🏼‍♀️

- it took me over an hour to organize the words you’ve just read.
Does that make me a bad writer? A sloppy-lazy one? Did my “talent” run away from home like a child in his preteen years? (My very aware self, 3 months later)

Usually, I don’t post this many cactus pots, but I thought it would fit the occasion.
By the way, I am the cactus.
And my writing is the finger that tries to caress my pointy needles, gets hurt, starts bleeding, and then it runs away from home. And probably dies in a car crash.

The end of Part I.

My anxiety is not activated by the possibility of harsh judgment, but by a vicious structure that, although it helped my work become more efficient and productive, it almost murdered my notebook.

To some extent — I believe “Less is more”, but my texts used to be so rich with words and descriptors, long pages filled with character introductions, luscious adjectives and detailed adventures, it actually bothers me.

How did I get from that to:
He slew the dragon. Saved the princess. They got married. Lived happily ever after. → Also, don’t forget! If you buy the prince you get a discount on the horse and can choose between 2 to 12 installments to purchase the penthouse castle that comes with a mighty FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON with 0% interest!
SALE% SALE% The dragon goes on sale this weekend! SALE % SALE%
*limited stock availability — hurry up!

How many of you would be diagnosed with FOCP Syndrome?

A penny for your thoughts?



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