Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho
All writers are in some part afraid or reluctant to share their writing with others, be it friends, family, colleagues, or strangers. However, writing is meant to be read. It’s meant to be performed, heard and experienced. So don’t keep it to yourself. This article is all about putting your writing out there and how it will help you learn and grow as a writer. Here are five reasons why you should share your writing…
1. Get Valuable Feedback
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary.” – Winston Churchill
We can never be the best judge on our own writing – we’ve spent too much time with it and are too emotionally attached in most cases. This is why we need feedback. Having someone else read your work is a great way to find out what’s working and what’s not. Is the character ‘real’? Is the setting clear? Are the rhymes contrived or natural? A fresh mind will pick out flaws quickly, and note if the writing is confusing, convoluted, or careless. Sharing your draft is the only way of knowing if the message you want to convey with your writing is getting across to the reader.
It’s important though, to carefully choose who will see your writing. There’s no point forcing it upon friends who don’t read a lot or aren’t particularly interested in what you do, just as there is no point handing your manuscript over to your mother, who will most likely tell you it’s fantastic, no matter what she really thinks… These people may be better utilised as proof-readers. For true feedback, the best people to show your work to are your contemporaries, other writers who know the process and can give you valuable advice and clarification. If you have an editor, that’s even better. Otherwise, anyone with an insatiable appetite for literature will work as a general indicator.
2. Increase Your Confidence
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” – Erma Bombeck
To write well one has to write confidently, but confidence can be cripplingly absent for a lot of writers. It’s never easy to hand over sweat-and-tear-soaked efforts for someone else to critique. However it is something all authors have to come to terms with. Constructive criticism is a vital stretch of road on the path to publication and is the only way of knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are. Gaining feedback will increase your understanding of your own writing and allow you to perfect your writing process. Reading your work aloud at groups or events will open up many opportunities for you to seek out the analysis you need from others. Not to mention the public speaking practice you’ll need for when you’re a bestselling author.
3. Learn and be Inspired
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”- Dr. Seuss
It’s well documented that children learn a lot from observing and playing with each other. The same can be said of writers. The more you read, the more ideas will spark and the more you’ll write. What better way is there to learn than from other writers of your generation?
If you ask your colleagues to take a look at your work it’s very likely they’ll request the same of you. Ideally this will lead to a regular exchange between a number of you. By networking in this way you’ll be reading the freshest material there is. Again this will provide you with feedback on your work. In this situation it will be especially useful as you will begin to see if particular issues with your writing crop up repeatedly, and you’ll learn what criticism you find most helpful. The best feedback is one that provides suggestions and options to any problems you may be having because it allows you to take a new line of thinking while reworking the material in your own way.
4. Influence An Audience
A drop of ink may make a million think.” – George Gordon Byron
Writing really can change the way people think and feel. It’s a major reason why writers write and readers read. They want to introduce and be introduced to new ideas and powerful emotions.
Your writing may mean as much to someone else as it does to you. We write about things that are important to us or things we feel strongly about. It may be something that scares us, a political stance, emotional turmoil, etc. How many times have you been reading only to stop and think about how a particular paragraph reminded you of your own life? You can offer that same experience to others.
When you share your writing with someone they will ideally be able to tell you how it made them feel and how they were able to relate to it. Hearing this will instil in you the fact your writing isn’t just words, it’s an organism. The more people read it, the more it lives.
Even if you set out to write solely for yourself, to remain stable and centred, the potential to connect to a reader should be too much to ignore. It’s no exaggeration to say that words can save lives (some have completely changed this author’s perspective) and no one should hold that power within themselves.
5. It’s Your Job
You’re not really a writer unless people are reading your shit.” – Pearl Madison, The United States Of Leland
Despite the embarrassment that sometimes plagues us when we tell people we are a writer, and the occasional sniggers or blank nods that follow, writing has to be a job. You have to take your writing seriously if you want to succeed. You have to treat it like work, even if you already have a ‘day’ job.
Sharing your work is a job requirement if you want to call yourself a writer. It’s part of the process that leads to publication, acknowledgement and renown. You wouldn’t skimp on important tasks at your other jobs, so don’t hold out on this one.
Ultimately there are few negatives to sharing your work. You will gain exposure, learn new techniques, find inspiration, make friends and contacts, raise your self-esteem all while undertaking a worthy pursuit called writing.