How to Find the Courage to Put Your Writing Out There Into the World
When I surveyed the Aliventures readership a few months ago, one reader asked about finding the courage to put your writing out there into the world.
I think this is a struggle that so many writers have – and not necessarily just at the start of their writing life.
It can be incredibly scary to share our writing with other people. That could be because the piece is very personal and shares something deeply meaningful to us. But even if it’s not a piece of writing that makes you vulnerable in that way, it can still be difficult to put your work out there.
You might worry that people will respond badly – telling you that your writing is rubbish, for instance. Or (perhaps even worse) they might respond with total indifference to the work you’ve put so much time and energy into.
Ultimately, some writers never share their work. In some cases, that’s because what they’re writing was never intended for anyone else (a personal journal, for instance) – but I suspect that many, many writers have short stories, novels, autobiographies, or other works that they’d love to share. It just takes too much courage.
Perhaps you’d hope that being published would “cure” this kind of struggle – but I’m not convinced it does. I’ve heard so many experienced writers talk about their continued struggles with self-doubt, plus there are famous writers (Harper Lee comes to mind) who became successful with their first book and then were extremely reclusive.
So if you want to get your writing out there, but you keep holding back, what’s the solution?
First, Think About Different Ways to Share Your Writing
There’s no one “right” way to share your writing with the world.
The most obvious option might be to find an agent and get a publishing deal (tricky thought that is)! But there are all sorts of other ways to get what you’ve written out there for readers.
You might want to think about:
- Self publishing your work. Many, many authors now bypass the agent & publisher route and instead publish their writing themselves, in ebook format and with print-on-demand services for hard copies. This means a full share of the profits – though also a full share of the responsibility!
- Entering competitions. I like to enter short story competitions from time to time: I don’t often win anything, but it’s a great way to flex my writing muscles, finish something, and send out a piece for at least one person to read.
- Being anonymous. Some writers (and bloggers) like to use a pseudonym, which can be helpful if you hate the idea of being publicly known as a writer. It might be that you’re writing about something you wouldn’t want your family/friends to know about, or you might simply feel more comfortable writing under an alias.
- Blogging or social media. If you want to get your work out there fast, blogging (or social media for very short pieces of writing) is a great way to do so. You might not think of Facebook statuses or Instagram captions as “writing” … but they are! With tools like WordPress, you can start a blog for free and write about any topic you like.
All of these are potential ways to get your writing out there into the world. Perhaps one sounds like a good fit for you, or maybe there’s something on that list you’d like to explore further.
4 Gentle Reminders to Help You Find More Courage
Whatever option you choose, of course, it will take courage. And I firmly believe that you have that courage in you! It may just be that you need a few reminders to help you find it.
1. Other Writers Feel Afraid, Too
I’ve been writing for over two decades, and I’ve been making a living from my writing for 15+ years. I still get scared!
It’s still daunting to send out a story for a competition, to pitch a guest post to a big blog, or even to turn in a more challenging piece for a freelancing client. It’s definitely easier than it was when I started out … but there are still times when I feel worried about what my editor might think of my latest novel, how readers might respond to my blog post, whether my client will be happy with my article, and so on.
You’re definitely not the only writer who struggles to find the courage to share your writing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a writer who felt wholly confident about putting their work out there!.
2. Rejection is Never the End
The prospect of rejection can be really daunting … and you might worry how you’ll cope if an agent or editor turns you down, or if you don’t get any of the freelancing gigs you’ve applied for, or if your story doesn’t make the shortlist for a competition.
The truth is, rejection is never the end. It’s a very normal part of the writing life. Of course, it’s always nicer not to be rejected … but if and when it happens, you’ll find that you have the strength to cope and bounce back from it.
If you don’t ever risk rejection, you’re missing out on a lot of chances. By getting your writing out there – even if rejection seems much more likely than not – you always at least have the chance of having your piece accepted.
3. You Are Stronger Than You Think
You might think that you’re not brave enough to send your writing out there. You might even have a little nagging voice telling you that you’re just not good enough.
For some writers, that voice might echo something that knocked their writing courage early in life – perhaps an unkind teacher, a cruel “friend”, or an unsupportive parent.
For others, that critical voice is a self-protective instinct: hey, if you never send your writing out there, you can never get hurt.
But the truth is that you’re almost certainly stronger than you think. You might worry that you’ll never want to write again if someone’s mean about your work … but I’m confident that, whatever the response to your writing, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and carry on.
4. You Might Just Love It!
It can be so scary to send your writing out there. And yet, facing your fears to do something you really want to do can be exhilarating, too. A few weeks ago, I took my 10 year old on a roller coaster that she was scared of but so determined to ride – and as soon as we set off, she was instantly over her fears and absolutely loved it! (Me, not so much, I’m not too keen on going upside down…)
Once you put your writing out there, you might find it’s a real source of happiness and joy for you. Yes, it can take a lot of courage to let someone else read what you’ve written. But reaching out to readers and having other people read the words you’ve crafted can be the most wonderful feeling.
Two Practical Steps to Get Your Writing Out Into the World – Even if You’re Afraid
Hopefully, I’ve encouraged you to find that courage you need to take the first steps towards putting your writing out there.
Here’s what I’d recommend you start with.
Spend Some Time Editing and Polishing Your Work
If I ever accidentally published a first draft of my fiction, I think I’d have to crawl into a hole and hide for the rest of my life. 😉
Whatever you’re working on, spending a bit of time on editing and polishing can help you feel more confident about it. You probably don’t want to share a blog post that’s full of typos or a short story that has a massive plot hole – and those are things you can easily catch in editing.
You’re not aiming for perfect here – good writing is so subjective that I very much doubt any kind of “perfect” exists. But you do want to feel confident that you’re putting a good, carefully edited version of your work out into the world.
Share Your Writing With a Friend or Private Group
Before sharing your writing with the general public, you could share it in a smaller way – with a trusted friend or family member, or with a private writing group.
You might have a local writing workshop group where you can share material you’re working on. This is a great way to get feedback on what’s working and on what you might want to tweak a little, before you publish your stories or send them to competitions, agents, or editors.
If you’re in the Aliventures Club on Facebook, you’re more than welcome to share works-in-progress in there. (The Aliventures Club is a private group for anyone who’s ever bought anything from me: it’s completely free and everyone in there is lovely.)
Sharing your writing can be hugely daunting – but if you want to write for an audience, rather than just for yourself, it’s a necessary step. Start small, treat yourself gently, but don’t let fear stop you from making progress altogether.
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
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