Quotes on Writing: Elizabeth Gilbert Says Share Your Work


share your work“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.

Quote: Thoughts on Writing [www.elizabethgilbert.com]
Image: Wikimedia Commons

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


4 Responses to “Quotes on Writing: Elizabeth Gilbert Says Share Your Work”

  1. opsimath says:

    Wise words – for those who can hear them. I find the enrire process of writing so incredibly difficult and draining that I can bearly look at my own work on the few occasions I am actually able to achieve anything.

    The thought that others are waiting, like ravening wolves, to destroy my hard-wrung efforts is one that truly fills me with fear; as I have siad before, some of us are just not equipped to be writers. Trying to open doors this way sounds extremely dangerous to me.

    As always, my very best wishes to all who are able to put words together and make something beautiful enough to want to share it; I don’t have that amount of courage.

    • Opsimath, you come here quite regularly to say that you don’t have what it takes to be a writer, but you obviously have a deep passion for writing. There’s no rule that says you have to publish what you write or put it in front of other people. You can write privately or practice your writing until you feel comfortable sharing it with people. You’re not the only writer who finds the process difficult and draining, and you’re not the only writer who is fearful of what others might think of your work. These are hurdles you can overcome if you set your mind to it.

  2. Simon says:

    Absolutely – I think sometimes we’re all too conscious that anything except the most glowing feedback can be draining, afraid that afterwards we’ll be robbed of all creativity for ever…

    • Glowing feedback feels good, and when warranted, it’s a sweet reward for all our hard work. On the other hand, it doesn’t push us forward or help us improve our work. The feedback that pinpoints problems in our writing and the failures we encounter in our writing journeys make us better writers and stronger people. So there is a benefit to be found in any kind of feedback. The trick is to understand that we are not perfect and accept that our work will be flawed. If we go into it with that understanding, even the harshest feedback won’t sting so bad and will instead strengthen us and our work.