As a writer, sharing your work can be a stressful proposition. In fact, for some, the thought of opening yourself up to criticism and judgment is paralyzing. This anxiety can stop you from sharing your work and possibly becoming published. But at the same time, you know your writings may help or inspire someone else, so what do you do? Below are some steps you can take to help alleviate this anxiety:
- Acknowledge your fears: they are real, and they are legitimate. They’re also very normal. You’re stepping into a new situation and let’s face it, new can be scary, especially if you don’t know what to expect. But just because you don’t know doesn’t mean you don’t share what you’ve written, or worse, you stop writing. Look for the rationale behind the fears—are you afraid of what others might think? Are you unsure of your work? Understand your anxiety and then come up with a plan of action to successfully deal with it.
- Determine if your writing is ready to be read. I like to quote Hemingway, who famously said, “The first draft of anything is garbage.” So, if you’re working with a first draft, you probably don’t want someone reading it. But a little extra work and love will get your writing to the place where you might be comfortable sharing it. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be perfect, because nothing and no one is. But you can get your writing to a good place and that will help alleviate some of the anxiety of sharing it.
- Find someone you trust to share your stories/writing with. If you’re hesitant because of the potential for criticism, look for someone who will be supportive of your writing and understands your anxiety. This person may be a family member, a friend, a mentor or a teacher. The key is to find someone you trust.
- When you find that person, be clear about what you’re requesting of them. Do you want feedback? Do you want a well-thought-out critique? Or do you just want support? More often than not, there are plenty of people around you who would be happy to support you and meet you where you are—you just need to ask.
- If you’re not comfortable with people close to you, think about sharing your work with anonymous readers. There are plenty of great sites online that were created for amateur writers to share their written pieces (like Wattpad, or Medium) or you can start your own blog (on platforms like WordPress or Wix). You can use a pen name or post anonymously. Or you can find someone you aren’t close to (perhaps in your church, school, or work) who would be willing to give you an unbiased opinion about your work.
The anxiety of sharing your written work with others is real, but you don’t have to let it stop you from taking the next step towards publishing. Assess where you are as a writer and take the necessary steps to overcome your fears. Your audience is waiting for you!
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