How many times a day to you click or tap a “share” button?
How many times every week do you stop reading or watching something, tearing your gaze and your mind away so you can snap a photo?
How many times a month do you stop listening to what someone is saying, so you can rehearse in your head how you’re going to tell a story once they’ve finished speaking?
I love social media. Spending time on the internet is literally part of my job description. I think an online presence is an amazing opportunity for people to share their opinions and ideas on and about things that interest them the most.
But sometimes, I think we’re too quick to express ourselves.
Sometimes, we don’t think through what we’ve written until we post it.
We’re so eager to share our latest idea that we lay it out in front of the first person who will listen — and don’t ever come back to it, because the act of sharing that idea dissolved its novelty.
You don’t have to share everything you think, feel, or do.
Sometimes, we’re the most creative when we spend some time alone in our heads — without any outside influence limiting our imaginations.
I bet you can think of a time when, even if they didn’t mean to, someone squashed your new idea before you even got the chance to develop it further.
This isn’t always a bad thing. There’s merit in collaboration.
But we let people chip away at our inspiration sometimes. That’s not good. Or healthy. Or encouraging.
Now, this doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to share your ideas — or that you “can’t.” There are some experts and aspiring creatives out there who claim telling others about your ideas is one of the worst moves you can make when first developing something new.
In some ways, they aren’t wrong.
But if you can’t contain your excitement, or you really feel like you need to express something publicly — in a way that others might benefit from it — share your thoughts. That’s the beautiful thing about writing. Self-expression is a luxury many of us take for granted. Many of us have the power to use our words to do great things. You don’t have to hold yourself back from saying what’s important.
It’s just that not everything needs to go on Facebook or Instagram. Some tweets are meant to live as drafts forever. You don’t have to publish every blog post you write. In the moment, it might seem like something that needs to be shared. But sometimes, some ideas are best kept to yourself, or within a much smaller circle of people you can trust.
Sometimes, an idea is meant to be shared after you’ve already developed most of it into something real.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not secretive or shy. It’s just personal — until it doesn’t have to be anymore.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.