Episode #116

Fear of Visibility

Today’s episode is all about fear… specifically my fear. I wanted to be vulnerable and super honest with you all about some fears I have had around publishing my book (coming out in stores in late August). The amount of fear involved in the process of writing this book has been so much more than writing anything else. I really wanted to talk about the fear we have around writing that is related to the fear of being more visible in the world.

“When we publish books or journal articles in our field of study, there is absolutely a certain amount of visibility that happens.”

It can feel exciting to think that you could be cited by others, and get your voice out there. But when I started writing this book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing, my audience got quite a bit bigger. Instead of a small audience, it is potentially an audience of millions of people.

“I need to get really really loud and really visible, and it freaks me out.”

In the book, I talk about making decisions and acting from a place of fear that is instigated from a place of scarcity. I talk about scarcity and abundance and apply it to publications in a really helpful way, especially when I’m trying to convince people that their pipelines are overloaded and that is what is slowing them down.



Abundance vs. Scarcity

In an abundance mindset, there are endless amounts of opportunities that will come your way so you can be selective. 

The opposite of this is a scarcity mindset, in which you have an opportunity to do X now, and since good opportunities don’t come along every day, if you let this one pass you may not get another opportunity. 

You might say “yes” out of a scarcity mindset. But when you take an abundance mindset towards publishing, then you can be very selective and only publish those things that are right in line with your academic mission. The reason to make that shift is because you are so overwhelmed with projects and spread so thin that projects aren’t moving through your pipeline.

“You aren’t having the desired effects and in fact, you are making scarcity come true for yourself because you are spreading yourself so thin.”



Fear is one of the major themes of the book, as well as something we talk a lot about in our programs, yet here I am. As an example, I asked one of my former clients to review my book back in November, and it is now March and I have not sent it to her yet. It is fear that is holding me back. 

“Decisions based on fear often don’t make sense.”


Publicity and Visibility

In trying to create the plans to publicize this book, there has been so much fear of visibility. I’ve thought of contacting my alma mater to publicize this book, and perhaps doing a book talk or a signing, but then the next thought I have is “who am I to do that?” There is a fear that people will see the book and see me, and conclude that I don’t know what I’m talking about. 

I wanted to relate this to a conversation we have been having in our company about public scholarship. There has been a conversation happening about writing only for other academics. What is missing by institutions is that we don’t “count” public scholarship writing that engages the public in our scholarly ideas. 

“That kind of writing doesn’t get you tenure… and that stops people from doing it even though it’s important.”

Many want to engage in this type of writing, but they don’t have time to do it in addition to their scholarly writing. It is a real problem, and there are many reasons beside this that academics don’t write for a larger audience: 

  • A lack of time
  • A feeling that it is futile
  • It won’t get you the next grant
  • A fear of visibility

This fear of visibility to a larger audience means we are open to a larger critique and can have real consequences that can be scary.

Also, people don’t know how to get more visibility around their projects and their research. But we can help solve the problem of what to do and how to do it. We have created a day long workshop called Public Relations for Professors, happening on Friday, March 25, 2022. We will be doing workshops on:

  • How to connect this kind of public writing/media to your scholarly purpose and to your career vision for yourself 
  • How to pitch and what stories are valuable
  • What may be interesting to different media outlets
  • The fear of actual problems caused by getting more visible

Don’t forget to sign up!

“Work to overcome fear…then decide what [you] are going to do that is connected to [your] greater purpose!”


Connect with me:

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Follow me on Clubhouse: @cathymazak 


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