“It has never been easy for me to understand why people work so hard to create something beautiful, but then refuse to share it with anyone, for fear of criticism.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
Putting yourself out there isn’t easy. When you share your work, you open it up to criticism. What if people don’t like it? What if it gets a negative review? What if nobody reads it?
I share my writing all the time, thanks to this blog. In the early days, shortly after I launched Writing Forward, I would sometimes wake up in a panic the day after I’d published a new post. Had I said something stupid? Misspelled a word? Misplaced a comma? A few times, my fears were realized. I’ve published posts with typos in the headlines, and I once spelled a famous author’s name wrong — in a headline.
Putting your work out there is risky, and it can be scary.
Here’s the thing: you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes, a piece you thought was brilliant will turn out to be a dud. Other times, a piece you thought was dull will catch fire and go viral. Some people will like what you’ve written, but there will be others who don’t like it or who don’t care to read it at all. You never know how people are going to respond until you share your work.
Share Your Work
I’m of the belief that not every piece of writing should be shared. Some of your projects won’t turn out the way you had hoped. There’s no reason to force a piece to publication when it’s not ready or if you it’s not up to your usual standard.
However, there’s a difference between holding on to a piece of writing because it’s not polished and holding on to a piece of writing because you’re nervous about how people respond.
Some of us refuse to share our work because we’re hard on ourselves; nothing we do is good enough. Some of us are perfectionists — we’ll spend years revising and editing but never quite living up to our own perfectionism. Some lack confidence; they believe nobody cares what they have to say. Some are simply afraid of failure — the possibility of negative reviews or low sales is enough to prevent them from sharing their work.
The lucky among us never struggle with these thoughts. They gladly put their work out there for all the world to see. But everyone else needs to learn how to to put their egos aside. Most people will have no interest in what you’ve written. Many won’t like it. Some will leave negative reviews.
But don’t let that stop you, because if you don’t share your work, you’ll never find the readers who will hang on to your every word, who will leave glowing reviews and tell all their friends about your writing. We all have to learn to take the good with the bad.
A Worthwhile Risk
The point is that as a writer, sometimes you’re going to have to take risks and put yourself out there, even when you’re scared. And if you blow it, if it blows up in your face, you pick up the pieces, get back to writing, and then put it out there again. And again. And again.
So keep writing, and then go forth and share your work.