A Writer’s Guide to Handling Fear
For the longest time, I was afraid to put my work out there. Even sending my work to my friends gave me hives. It was a constant source of stress for me. I love to write. But I hated to have my work evaluated.
You have to understand — my writing is a piece of my soul. I imagine (because I don’t actually know) that it’s as important to me as my children. I create it. I scold it. I punish it. I praise it. I want to hide it away and protect it from bullies and heartbreak. So, despite my passion for putting pen to paper, I couldn’t make anything of it.
An incredible person used to tell me, “you already have no in your pocket”. When she said it, she meant that if I didn’t go asking for favors, I’d never get them. Instead of a networking tactic, try this: If you never put your work out there, it will never be appreciated.
So how do you become a writing machine while conquering the fear of rejection and ridicule?
- Write every day. I have set aside a half hour every day when I get home from work. If I didn’t set that time aside, I would almost never write. I’m exhausted when I get home. But once I force myself to get on a roll, I stay on that roll for hours.
- Edit a week later. Do NOT allow yourself to crumple the page or delete the file right after you write it. That’s ridiculous. Put your piece aside for a week, then come back and edit. Don’t delete. It may be rough, but even diamonds have are refined before they shine.
- Put it on a blog. You’ve written. You’ve edited. Now what? If you’re like me, your first instinct will be to let it gather dust in a drawer. Don’t do that. Now that I’ve started to share and experiment with my work, I can feel my work getting better and more focused. So put it on Medium, Tumblr, Wordpress, or Blogger — whatever floats your fancy. Just get it out there.
- Share and ask for criticism. It’s not enough to just post it to a blogging site. You can’t get attention or feedback by whispering into the Grand Canyon. That’s what the internet has become — the Grand Canyon of content. So, create an author page on Facebook, make yourself a Twitter account, and ask your friends and family to edit. Get it in front of any eyeball that is available and ask them what they think. Your pride may take a hit at first, but you’ll be a better and more relatable writer.
- Use the criticism. Like I said, your pride may take a hit. Don’t fret. It happens. A lot. But instead of taking it as a personal reprimand, take it as a survival tactic. When organisms want to survive, they adapt to the conditions that nature presents them. The same goes for your writing. If 12 people tell you that your writing sounds like a Valley girl on vaycay, then you might want to adjust your style. Unless, of course, that was what you wanted.
- Write every day. Saying it twice. Write every day. If it’s your passion, make time for it. Work on it. Work for it. Make it a priority. It’s definitely worth it. And the more you write, the less you’ll fret over the individual pieces you churn out. (Think about the parents of an only child vs. the parents of siblings. One always has more attention and helicopter-parenting than the other).
Don’t be afraid. Fear will only ever hold you back, and you’ll never know if you can make it unless you try. May the odds be ever in your favor.