Hello there my lovelies! This week we're hosting our first ever guest blogger Lisa Fellinger! She's an incredibly talented author and editor, and I found her tips for new writers insightful and inspiring so I hope you do too.
Lisa is a women's fiction writer and professionally-trained editor who loves helping other writers commit to and improve their writing. You can find her on her website www.lisafellinger.com where she also hosts her own blog.
She's also on Instagram and Facebook:
Thanks for reading my lovelies! I hope you enjoy Lisa's advice as much as do, and I'll be back next week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
Author: Lisa Fellinger
Title: Finding the Courage to Share Your Writing
I remember writing my first “novel.” I had notebooks full of scenes, in no particular order, that I carried with me all day at school and wrote in every opportunity I had. Those notebooks held snippets of my most creative thoughts, were my touchstone to keep me sane throughout the day, and gave me an escape where I could make up any world I wanted.
And if anyone ever read them, I’d have been mortified.
I think a lot of writers start out this way. Our writing is for us, windows into our most private thoughts and fantasies, and the thought of anyone else seeing what we write is horrifying.
And there is absolutely a place for writing we keep to ourselves and never share with others. But eventually, if our goal is to publish our writing, we need to share our words with others. And that needs to happen long before we hit send on a query letter to our dream agent.
Why is Sharing Your Writing Important?
Gain feedback/critiques to help you get better
Gaining feedback on your writing is so important. It’s easy for us to lose sight of things in our own writing. A fresh pair of eyes can be invaluable in finding areas that could use improvement or things that don’t make sense.
Another writer would also have different strengths or more experience than you and can help you improve your writing by offering feedback on your writing.
If we only ever write in solitude, we miss out on so many opportunities to learn and improve our writing.
Gain confidence in your writing
I know it seems counter-intuitive, but sharing your writing with others can actually be helpful in gaining confidence in your own writing abilities.
If you’re sharing your writing for critique, you might think you’ll end up feeling worse about your writing. But even when offering your writing up for critique, there will be strong points the other person will notice and share with you. And even if you get feedback that highlights a ton of weaknesses in your writing, if you commit to improving your skills and find the courage to share your writing again, you’ll see the proof of your commitment in the feedback you receive.
No matter what stage of writing we’re at, when we share our work for feedback, all of us will receive comments on areas that could use improvement. So take comfort in the fact that every writer goes through this stage, and by sharing your writing, you’re recognizing the importance of this step and owning the title of writer.
How to Find the Courage to Share Your Writing
Clearly, sharing your writing is an important piece of the writing journey. But it can be intimidating to send our private writing out into the world for others to see. So, how do we overcome that fear? I’ve outlined a few ideas here for you.
1. Remember that all writers start somewhere
This can be a hard thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re just starting out and every writer around you seems far more advanced. But remember, all of us started somewhere. Even bestselling authors weren’t always bestselling authors.
This shift in your mindset can be an easy way to convince yourself to share your writing. The wisdom of “don’t compare your chapter 1 with someone else’s chapter 20” applies here. We were all beginning writers at one point. We all still have things we can learn. But if we never share our writing with anyone else, we miss out on those opportunities.
2. Eliminate Perfectionistic Thinking
This is the big one.
We all want our writing to be perfect. But there’s really no such thing. And especially when we’re in the phase of seeking feedback, there’s no point in striving for perfection because odds are, after we receive the feedback, we’ll be making a bunch of changes anyway.
But eliminating perfectionistic thinking requires more of a mindset than simply telling ourselves to stop.
And that’s because the desire for perfection is actually rooted in fear.
We’re afraid to fail, or to mess up, or to look silly. So we continually strive for a level of perfection that’s impossible to achieve, subconsciously ensuring we’ll never have to do the thing we’re afraid of. If our writing’s not perfect, we tell ourselves, we can’t possibly share it. And since it will never be perfect, we avoid having to face our fear of sharing.
It’s a self-defeating cycle that’s far too easy to get caught up in. But now that you’re aware of it, you can start working to change your mindset.
The next time you find yourself going over and over your writing, insisting it needs to be perfect before you can take the step of putting it out there for feedback and critique, ask yourself what scares you about sharing your writing. Play a game of “what if” with yourself and write out each fear you have. And then write down what the worst thing to happen would be if each of those “what ifs” came true. I guarantee you, none of the answers will be that you die or are physically harmed. The worst-case scenario isn’t even likely to happen, but if it does, you’ll still be fine. If someone has negative things to say about your writing, shrug and know you’re in good company. Even the best authors have negative reviews out there. And those are public. Yours at least would be private.
And – here’s the best part – anything someone says negative about your writing presents an opportunity to teach you something. Either the negative review has some validity to it and you can use it to improve your writing, or the review missed the mark entirely on your writing but presents you with the opportunity to deal with a negative review, something you’ll need to get used to if you want to be a published author. More on determining the validity of a negative review another time. But for now, recognize that even negative feedback teaches you something. In fact, I’d argue negative feedback is far more useful to you as a writer (if not to your ego) than positive feedback.
Once you get some practice in identifying when you’re letting perfectionism mask your fear, you’ll be able to intervene and stop perfectionism from crippling your ability to improve your craft.
3. Remind yourself this is the best way to achieve your goals
Reminding yourself of why you want to share your writing is a great way to motivate yourself to do something you’re nervous about.
Revisit your writing goals and consider how sharing your writing with other writers can help you achieve those goals. As I talked about above, sharing your writing is one of the best (if not the best) ways to improve your writing. I guarantee there’s no writing goal you have that won’t benefit from sharing your writing.
4. Give feedback to other writers
Offering to give feedback to others isn’t just a nice way to help others or repay those who are doing the same for you. It can also help you get over your own fear of sharing your writing. When you see what other writers are up to, where others are at and where they might be struggling, and that others are willing to put their writing out there, it can take some of the intimidation out of sharing your own writing.
Witnessing the bravery of others can rub off and lessen your fears. And it’s also a great way to pay it forward and even learn more about the craft at the same time. Pay attention to what others who share their writing with you do well and how you can incorporate that into your own writing.
5. Take a deep breath and just do it
It’s scary to send our writing out, for sure, especially to other writers who we may feel are more advanced than us. The first time I shared my writing with other writers, I was terrified. Especially given that it was in a classroom full of other writers and I had to read the piece aloud, something that really terrified me.
Now, I send my work to other writers for feedback fairly regularly. I promise, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Those first few times though, boy, they were scary.
So take a deep breath, remind yourself of the many reasons this will benefit you, and then press send. Once it’s done, you can’t take it back.
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