As a person who has spent 20 years writing without another soul seeing my work, I think it’s fair to say that I’m a self-proclaimed expert on the difficulty of sharing.
I think this is probably something many writers struggle with at first. That transition from our innermost thoughts being just that, to allowing them exposure to the critical assessment of others.
It’s daunting, I get that. Really, I do.
Why do you need to share? Why do you write?
This is the first question you need to answer before you go any farther. If you have no aspirations to publish or simply love to write but have no desire to do anything more with your work, then you should feel no burden or need to share. For a lot of my twenty years writing I was exactly this, happy to write, no burning need for it to go anywhere or be seen by anyone
I guess I got to a point where I felt, why not do something more? See what happens?
Yes, I did want to publish. Yes , I did want the satisfaction of sharing what I had done, and hopefully someone (even one person) saying yes, this work resonates with me.
So, why should you share your writing?
Feedback is the only way to learn and improve: This is the truth of it. Yes, reading books about writing techniques, blogs, and online articles are all very helpful, and there is no doubt they will improve your work. But! There is really no substitute for ‘just doing’ and receiving feedback. In my opinion this is the only true way to learn and grow.
We don’t often learn by doing something once, or even twice, and we don’t learn without any feedback at all. Learning is an iterative process, which by definition means you have to do it more than once.
It gives us confidence: I can attest to the fact that sharing is the one and only way to gain any level of confidence in your work. I think it becomes less daunting with each increment of sharing. Less traumatic, and more encouraging.
So, you are ready for some feedback, how do you proceed?
A friend: It can be hard to find a ‘friendly’ someone you know and trust to be gentle, but who at the same time, will provide some valuable feedback on your work. That’s a big ask, and not everyone will fit the bill. So take your time, choose carefully and be brave. Critique Partners
Share anonymously: Using sites such as Wattpad.
Professional feedback: There are all kinds of editing options out there. Developmental editing for example will assist in story structure, copy editing for grammar and punctuation, or proof reading if the story is almost there and you need a final check. See Editing v Proofreading
Generally, this is a service you need to pay for. I used a copy editor who also offered some amazing developmental insights. I learnt an insane amount by having my story professionally edited.
Beta readers: Are kind and wondrous beings who are prepared to read your work and offer feedback…for free. My advice on engaging beta readers is to be polite and mindful that they are doing this for FREE, so make sure you provide background on your book to ensure it is a genre they like. Also, check the type of feedback they provide, some will offer a lot of detail and some will give you a summary overview of what they thought. Note: They often have a queue of books to read, so find out upfront when they may be able to get around to reading your book, and ensure the timelines work for you both.
A Note on feedback: All feedback is invaluable, but, you need to be mindful that you don’t need to act on it all. Not all feedback providers are professional, and even if they are a professional, you still need to think it through. I would say that generally when someone gives you good advice you just know it. I usually read it, let it sink in, and then read it again a little later. You can pickup some amazing gems even from what may at first seem like a negative comment.
My own experience with friends, beta readers, and a professional editor is that very little of their feedback was disregarded. And if it was disregarded I understood exactly why.
So what’s holding you back?
If you are anything like me, and you struggle with the idea of sharing, ask yourself why you write and if you are ready for feedback.
A few encouraging words can provide a world of motivation!
So, if you haven’t shared before, why not jump in. You might be pleasantly surprised 🙂