Sharing your written work can be a stressful process. For some, the thought of opening up yourself to possibly be criticized or judged is paralyzing. It’s a scary thought for anyone, regardless of age, but there are things you can do to help alleviate these anxieties.

1. Acknowledge your fears: they are real, they are legitimate. They’re also very normal. You’re stepping into a new situation and let’s face it, there are some not nice people out there, but that doesn’t mean you stop doing what’s in your heart to do. So look for the rationale behind the fears, understand them and then come up with a successful plan of action to deal with them.

2. Find someone you trust to share your stories/writing with. Someone who will read what you wrote, and not criticize you. This may be family or friends, a mentor or a teacher. The key is that this is someone you trust.

3. Determine if your writing is ready. I like to quote Hemingway, the first draft of anything is garbage. So you probably don’t want people to read your first draft. But a little extra work and love will get your writing to the place where you’re comfortable sharing it. This doesn’t mean it has to be perfect, because nothing and no one is. But it can be good.

4. When you find that person you can trust, be clear about what you’re requesting of them. Do you want feedback? Do you want a critique? Or do you just want support? There are plenty of people who are happy to support you and meet you where you are, you just need to ask.

5. If you’re not comfortable with people close to you, you can get anonymous readers. There are lots of great sites out there that allow you to post your work anonymously. Use a pen name. Or find someone you can work with to get an unbiased opinion about your work.

Don’t let your fears stop you from doing something you love.

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