2018 has been the year that I challenged myself to put my writing out into the world for once.
It’s. Been. So. Damn. Scary.
Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected. But now it’s safe to say it’s been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.
I’ve tried a little of everything in this past year. Blogging, articles, short stories, novels. Sometimes I’ve deleted it as soon as I post it. Other times I fall into a depression immediately afterward because it’s tough putting something so personal out into the universe. Many times I feel free that it’s finally out of me. Writing is the most complex relationship I’ve ever been in, continually shifting between love and hate, and always leaving me the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.
One thing that has been consistent with all my projects this year is the response from readers. Every time I send something out, only a few people seem to connect with it at a time. Of course, it’s hard to judge how accurate that is since it’s all based on comments I receive, reviews, likes, claps- whatever the method. I’m the worst at providing feedback on what I read, so I’m sure others aren’t taking the time to express their thoughts either.
When I first set this challenge for myself, I didn’t have any thoughts about who may read what I write or what the responses would be. However, after too many beats of silence after I hit “publish” on my first post, it didn’t take long to realize that responses in some form become a basic need for survival in this writing world. Otherwise, it’s a monologue when I’m dying for dialogue, and we all know that talking to yourself for too long can make you go a little crazy.
Maybe people hated it. Maybe people didn’t connect. It’s easy to always think the worst. Or maybe people were blown away. Maybe people felt someone spoke the words on their own heart. Maybe they couldn’t stop thinking about it. Maybe they shared it with others. I don’t know. When you write, you’re in a one-sided relationship the majority of the time. You’re continually pouring yourself out and getting very little in return. This is why writing is such a scary venture and one that some people set out on without completing. It’s strenuous to truly expose yourself, knowing that there’s nothing left and nowhere else to hide.
To end this year, I recently released some posts in various outlets exposing the deepest parts of me I have yet to share with anyone. It was my final “bang” of my challenge for 2018, a daunting test on how vulnerable I was willing to go through writing. I cannot tell you the number of times I wanted to go back and delete them. But I kept them out there, despite receiving little or no feedback.
Mind you, I never want to go viral on an essay. I’m an introvert through and through so that would put me in my shell (fictional pieces are okay- my full heart on display? A different realm altogether). But sometimes when you put your entire self out for the world to see, a little affirmation is always encouraging. It’s scary to know these deeply personal essays are dangling in some void with no say as to who is reading them. But I did it. They’re there. Surely, there’s little else in writing that can be as scary. What else do I have to be afraid of now? Nothing.
This is what I’ve learned: if it’s on your heart, write. If you want to send it out in the world, do. If you regret it afterward, don’t. Sure, there’s such a thing as editing and all of that. But if you truly believe that there’s something that should fly out into the world, don’t hold back. Even if it’s only two people who read it and love it, that’s two people you connected with. It’s two people who may now realize they’re not alone in their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, experiences. Isn’t that ultimately what it’s all about? Just connecting people, regardless of how many, with your words?
Sometimes when I’m feeling the most awkward, that’s when I’ll force myself to write the most. It’s too easy to want to hole up and convince yourself to never write anything again because it takes too much out of you. Don’t. Stop. Writing. Don’t get drained. Don’t set your writing goals based on the favorable number of responses you receive. Write because there’s something that you have to share. Write because it’s something you want to read.
Honestly, I put pressure on myself a lot that I have to make it big for people to really view me as an author. I’ve had this dream since I was six years old. I walked away from a very well paying job after spending years working up to that position, earning a masters degree and multiple certifications- all to pursue writing. I know people thought I was crazy. It’s intimidating when I run into people who ask how the writing is going and I can’t yet refer them to their nearest bookstore to scope out my latest release or provide them with the number of times I’ve been on the Times Best Seller List or awards I’ve won.
Impressing them isn’t what it’s about. Getting these stories off my heart, out of my mind, letting the creativity flow — and knowing there are a few people who really enjoy reading my stories, that’s all I wanted when I was six years old. I don’t want to walk away from those same objectives now.
Believe in yourself, believe in your words, believe in the need to unleash your story (fictional or non) into this world. We were born storytellers for a reason. Don’t be afraid to expose everything through your writing. It’s what this beautiful world of connecting with others is all about.
Originally published at authorlaurennichole.com on January 1, 2019.