Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Horror of Sharing Your Writing with Others

I know, I know, I know. One of my goals for this year was to post on time, and I'm totally failing. I'm sorry!
I haven't posted for two weeks. The first week was because it was my spring break, and I really needed it. Last week was because my life has seriously become nothing but school and work, and every time I would try to write anything my brain would freeze and I would just get extremely unmotivated. So yeah.
I've also been seriously struggling to come up with ideas for blog posts. A lot of the time I gain inspiration from things around me or experiences I've been through, but lately I've just been stumped. So if there is anything specific you guys would like me to post about, let me know in the comments or send me an email or something. That would be very appreciated!
I'm slowly clawing my way out of this writing schlump, so today I thought I would I would tell you guys a story about a lesson I learned about feeling pressured to share my work. Sound good? Good.


Back in high school (eleventh grade, to be exact) when I walked into my first Creative Writing class of the semester, I was pretty happy to see that the class was really small, and one of my good friends was in the class with me. I couldn't wait to start writing again, because, as most of you know, this class was the thing that really got me back into writing after I had stopped for so long.
Anyway, our teacher started the class by writing a prompt on the board and asking us to write something based off of it in a ten minute time span. Now, I'm not good with timed writing--at least, I wasn't at the time. I felt stressed, anxious, and nervous that my writing wouldn't be good enough. How was I supposed to write something great about a specific prompt in such a short amount of time?
I wrote something quickly, but didn't really like it. No big deal, right?
Wrong. Because do you know what my teacher said when time was up?
We. have. to. share. out. loud.
*cue distant screams of agony*
I wanted to cry. I hated what I wrote, but I had to read it out loud? I had to share it with the class?
My heart was pounding as I listened to everyone else read their pieces out loud--and they were all so good! More than good--they were amazing. How did these people write like that? Why couldn't I write like that? What if I was actually the worst writer in the room?
I tried to avoid reading out loud, but my teacher made it clear that it was required. I read my piece, got told it was great, and the class went on. Oi.
This ended up being a regular thing. And though overall I loved Creative Writing, being forced to share my work out loud was an absolute nightmare. Sometimes I wrote things I enjoyed, other times I really didn't. On those days when I would have to read my work, my cheeks would get red and hot, I would stammer, and afterwords I would feel so embarrassed. It was awful!
One day, the prompt was something I didn't really understand. I don't remember exactly what it was, but I do know that I sat there for the first five minutes of the timed writing session wondering what the heck the prompt meant. And this was after my teacher explained it multiple times. It was like my mind wouldn't work; I couldn't understand what to say, what to do, or what to think. I had no ideas. My creative juices were gone. But everyone around me was writing away without a problem. How?! What was I doing wrong? So I scribbled something down anxiously, absolutely dreading the fact that I would have to read this out loud. It was definitely one of the worst things I had ever written.
I remember sitting in my seat, listening to everyone else read. They all understood the prompt perfectly and wrote such fantastic pieces. I almost felt sick because I was dreading reading mine so much!
So when my teacher called on me, I asked if I really had to read today. I had done this many other times before--in fact, I had a pretty strong reputation in the class as the shy one who was embarrassed to read her work. So naturally, my teacher put on a patient smile and told me she would really like it if I shared. So you know what I did?
I begged her. I literally begged her to skip me. Begged. I promised I would read any other day if she didn't make me read my piece that day. I told her I misunderstood the prompt, I hardly wrote anything--I used every excuse I could think of. I didn't care what my classmates thought, I just knew my writing was too terrible that day to be read out loud. I was desperate.
My teacher was obviously not amused by my begging, but, I could see in her eyes that she could understand how desperate I was.
And you know what? After thinking about it, she actually let me skip. It was like the heavens opened up and bathed me in relief. I wanted to cry of sheer happiness!
But here's the thing--at the time, I didn't think not wanting to share my work was a bad thing. I knew I could be a little ridiculous about it, but I didn't think it was a problem. But apparently it was, because everyone made me feel like it was. And that's not okay.
I know a lot of young writers, and I know a lot of old writers, and I know a lot of writers my age who don't like sharing their work. Most of us do it anyway because we know it's good for us, but sometimes sharing your work is just plain terrifying. And if that's the case, then don't do it!
Too many writers feel pressured to share their work with others, and when they give into that pressure, they feel awful about themselves and their writing. That's not good! That won't help you better yourself as a writer, it'll just make you feel more embarrassed.
You are the author. You are the one who can control who does and doesn't see your writing, and you have to control that based on your own comfort zone. What a lot of writers don't realize is that it's actually okay to have writing that no other eyes ever see. You don't have to share your work just because other writers share theirs. You don't have to post your stuff online for strangers to read. You don't have to do anything!
The best part about being a writer, I think, is how much writers are able to grow. Just because you aren't comfortable with sharing your work now doesn't mean it will always be that way! Sometimes you might have to push yourself a little, or sometimes you'll write something you're proud of and it's easy to share.
When I walked into my first college creative writing two years later, I was still a little nervous about sharing my work. But you know what? My professor didn't require it. She only wanted us to share when we were comfortable, and that's how it should be! In fact, I ended up sharing my work a lot more than I thought I would in that class because after the first time I shared, I got so much praise from my peers and professor that it made me want to share more!
So don't let people pressure you to do something you aren't comfortable with. If you want to share your writing, go for it. And if you don't, don't be ashamed about it! You are the writer, and you know your limits. Don't destroy your own confidence trying to please others! In the end, you'll only hurt yourself.

1 comment:

  1. You could do something about developing your books history/time setting etc. Or even about creating your own world for books. I've met a lot of people who have this problem.

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