Putting yourself out there isn’t easy. When you share your writing, you open it up to criticism. What if people don’t like it? What if it gets negative reviews? 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 them, and I once spelled a famous author’s name wrong — in a title. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot.
But I kept going. I fixed that typo, and I moved on.
Here’s the thing: you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes, a piece of writing that 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 don’t care to read it. You never know how people are going to respond until you share your writing.
Sharing Your Writing
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 of writing to publication if it’s not ready or if it’s not up to your usual standards. Sometimes we write for personal reasons, and we create material that’s never meant to be shared.
However, there’s a difference between holding on to a piece of writing because it’s not polished or because you created it for your eyes only and holding on to a piece of writing because you’re nervous about how people will respond.
“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
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 high expectations. Some lack confidence, believing 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 writing.
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 egos aside, accept the risks, and take the plunge.
It starts with acceptance. You need to accept that most people will have no interest in what you’ve written. This can include your own friends and family members. I write books on the craft of writing, and guess what? Most of my friends and family are not writers. They don’t read my books.
And some people won’t like what you’ve written. Some of them will leave negative reviews. If you publish enough of your writing, this is bound to happen, but it shouldn’t stop you. Maybe they’re not your target audience. Maybe they were having a bad day and nothing would have pleased them. Maybe your writing is not to their taste.
We all have to learn to take the bad with the good.
If you don’t share your writing, you’ll never find the readers who will hang on to your every word, who will leave glowing reviews and tell their friends about your work.
A Worthwhile Risk
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 Source: Thoughts on Writing [www.elizabethgilbert.com]