Solution Saturday: I’m Afraid to Let Other People Read My Stuff

NRSS10

You consider yourself a writer. You’ve been writing for a long time, and even though everyone around you would say it’s impractical, you really do dream of becoming a successful author or journalist someday.

For starters, we’re certainly not here to crush your dreams: we fully support you and all your diction-saturated ambitions. We just have one question for you: why haven’t you ever shared your work with anyone before?

Yes, we know your secret. As much as you love writing and dream of doing it professionally, you’re afraid to let other people read what you write because … well, you don’t really know why, exactly. You just are.

Been there, done that. What you’re feeling is completely normal. And if you want to change your ways and overcome your fear, as always, we are here to help.

Solution 1: Recruit a designated reader

Just the thought of hundreds of people looking at your writing at once is enough to shy you away from stepping out of your literary comfort zone—so let’s not think of it that way. If you’ve never shared your work with anyone before, it’s probably a good idea to start with just one or two ‘designated readers’—people who you have asked, and who have stated they are willing, to read some of your writing.

If you’re worried about showing your work to strangers, you can rely on a close friend or family member who voices their interest in reading some (not all) of your writing. If you’re concerned a close friend or family member won’t give you honest feedback to avoid hurting your feelings, join a writing community and find one or several people who might be willing to give your work a once-over.

Solution 2: Create a Facebook group or page 

If you’re hesitant to ask a specific person to read your work, take a different route: designate a specific place on social media to put your work out there and let potential readers stumble upon it at their own will. You can do this a bit more subtly by creating a Facebook group or page where you post excerpts or links to your blog or portfolio for the public, or a select group of people, to see.

It’s up to you whether you make these ‘content hubs’ private and invite specific people or leave them public for anyone to find. We recommend creating a closed group and a public page, so that anyone interested in keeping up with your work can ask to join the group or follow (‘like’) your page. It’s also up to you whether, and/or how often, you promote these opportunities on your personal social media pages. Basically, whatever you’re comfortable with is what will work best for you.

Solution 3: Don’t force yourself to share everything

If your ultimate goal is to be more comfortable sharing your writing with other people, as with any ambition, start small. You don’t have to share everything you’ve ever written all at once. Go through your most recent pieces and pick out one or two you feel convey your best work and start there. If your designated reader or others ask to see more, when you’re ready, you can expand the amount of pieces you’re willing to share.

But if you don’t really want to share your work at all—and that’s okay with you—there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes writing can be a very private thing, or you write about personal experiences you don’t want other people to know about. That is 100 percent your choice, and no one can, or should, force you to let them read what you’ve written if you don’t feel comfortable.

Letting someone else read your story, poem, book chapter or article for the first time can be scary. But part of the process is learning how to accept positive and negative feedback and taking others’ suggestions into account when refining your skills and revising your work without taking them personally.

You are a writer, and you can and will do amazing things with your talent. But you cannot do it alone—and you shouldn’t have to.

Good luck. Never forget: your ideas do matter, and they deserve to be put into words.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

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