Let’s face it. Sharing your writing with others is hard. What if someone doesn’t like it? What if someone says something nasty about your writing? What if you get horrible reviews? What if you’re just not good enough to put your writing out there?
These are all fears that almost all writers, aspiring and even more experienced, deal with on a continual basis. So what is it? What is it that encourages writers to finally put their work out there?
For me, there were a few things that helped me build the courage to share my writing.
1. Realistic Expectations: Realizing that not everyone is going to like your writing, and that’s ok, is one of the biggest things that helped me build the courage to put my writing out there to read. While I would love to write something everyone likes, it is more important for me to write something that I and my fans like. Finding my fan base is more important to me than being the most beloved writer. Some will like it, some won’t and that’s ok. I write for myself and those who will end up loving my work. I write for those who can’t wait for the next book in the series, even if that is only a few people right now 🙂 Yes, poor reviews, and people not liking your writing hurts and you don’t ever get over that fear that people might hate something you put out there, but unless you put your writing out there, you can’t get better, and you will never experience the joy of sharing your work with someone who may love it.
2. Baby Steps: The next one is a bit more practical. Baby steps is also what helped me build the courage to finally publish my work and share it with others. I started by sharing my writing with “safe” people. People who I knew would support me and find good things about my writing no matter what. Throughout my life that has been different people, sometimes really close friends who have expressed an enthusiastic desire to read my writing. Most of the time it was family: My mom, my brother, my husband. Their encouragement and positive feedback gave me the courage to keep going.
After that, I took a huge leap. I felt like I was stuck in a box and I couldn’t go any further in my writing without an outsider’s point of view. That is when I started looking for critique groups and critique partners. This was the most terrifying part for putting my work out there for me. More than hitting the publish button on my book. This was the first time I was going to share my writing with complete strangers. But I knew it was necessary to my progress as a writer and that’s what encouraged me to take the leap. Swapping with other writers made the process a little less scary because you are both putting each other’s writing under scrutiny, so you know they are going through the same process you are. And I’ve found other writers to be super supportive and nice while also giving constructive feedback.
After the critique groups, I moved on to beta readers. This helped me know that what I was putting out there would be liked by at least some. If I got similar feedback by multiple beta readers, I knew that was something that probably wouldn’t work well with general audiences and I had time to fix it before publishing.
3. Learning the Process: The last thing that helped give me the courage to share my writing was doing everything I could to put out a quality product. I took a young adult creative writing class at the community college. I listen to free writing classes online. I’m currently listening to Brandon Sanderson’s free Fantasy and Science Fiction Creative Writing course online.
The beta readers were also a big part of this. Knowing that my betas liked my book was super helpful and in the process, I made some friends in the writing community and we are willing to help each other promote each other’s work. That makes me feel not as alone in the process and I have people to bounce ideas off of. Also, I hired an editor to edit and give feedback on my book. That was another step that helped me boost my confidence.
Building the courage to share your writing with others isn’t an event so much as a process. If you are scared of sharing your work, just know so is almost every other writer out there. Find other writers who understand the fear and work together. Or like I said, start easy by sharing with your family and friends who you know will support you no matter what. In the end remember, not everyone will like your work, but some will and that is what makes it worth it 🙂
*Last but not least, I’d like to say thank you to Katelynn who submitted the amazing questions that inspired this and the next couple of blog posts!