Everyone has one – or they should, anyway. Something you’re writing that you want to keep to yourself. A story you need to write, but aren’t ready to share with the world – yet, or ever.
I’ve started writing novels I couldn’t wait to share, only to discover that I’m not ready to. A lot of my more recent stories are personal – obviously, for personal reasons. I don’t feel bad about choosing not to share some of my writing with the entire virtual universe. There is no law that says a writer who wants to build a successful career is required to share everything he or she creates. I’ve told you it’s OK to write terribly. I never said you have to share that terrible work with everyone you meet, if you don’t want to.
Sometimes, you need something that’s yours – and yours only. Something you can work on without feeling like there’s always someone else looking over your shoulder, judging every character you type. Practice does not make perfect – practice is about making mistake after mistake until you learn, through experience, not to make those mistakes as often.
Improvement is a rough balance between adapting your work based on the suggested parameters presented by a critique and learning from your own weaknesses. Sometimes you need to go off on your own, where no one can see you, interrupt or criticize you, and just go. It’s not about hiding your work; it’s about being brave enough to see what you can do; to try things you never have before; to give yourself time to get used to the colder, darker air of the places outside your comfort zone, before you’re ready to create work meant for other people to enjoy.
I recommend always having a ‘your eyes only’ project. Something you can work on in the background, when you need to express yourself but don’t want anyone else around to cloud your experience with their unsolicited opinions.
Practice. Take your stories in directions they have never gone before. Write something that has been on your mind, that one thing you can’t wait to start – even though you might be afraid no one else will love it as much as you already do. Keep some things to yourself. Be proud of them. Someday you might be okay with releasing them out into the world. Maybe you never will. Everyone starts out without an audience. You, the creator, have control over who sees what.
It’s OK to only want to show off your best work. It’s OK if you’re not ready to show off anything at all – yet. You’ll get there. The more time you spend writing, the better writing you’ll do – and the more confident you will become. Stick with it, no matter how public or private. Get it out of your head. You can decide who to show it to later. Now, it’s time to write.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.