I posed this question at critique group Thursday night: What tips would you give to writers struggling with overcoming their fear of sharing their writing? The Scribes’ Tribe, being the insightful and wise group of writer friends they are, came up with some helpful suggestions.
Choose Who You Share Your Writing With
One woman from our group suggested this, mentioning that her sister-in-law who was an English major had offered many times to read her novel, but my friend knew that receiving critique from her would not be a good idea because of differences in personalities. So while she doesn’t shy away from getting needed feedback, she is careful who she allows to critique her work.
So what do you do when your potential feedback is coming from a group of strangers? Try out a group first to see if the members are a good fit. Don’t be in a hurry to participate. Be an observer. Ask questions. When new writers come to The Scribes’ Tribe initially, we ask that they observe for the first several weeks, neither commenting nor reading their work. The few times we’ve broken our own rule we’ve regretted it. Bottom line: It’s important to find a group of writers you can trust, and this takes time.
Look at the Structure of the Group
If you want to share your writing with a group of peers, it’s important to take a look at how they operate. What are the rules? Is comment time a free-for-all with whoever wants to speak jumping in? Or do they systematically move around the table, allowing each member to offer critique? Do they point out what is working with a story or only focus on what’s wrong? Does their style fit your personality?
Listen to Gauge Your Writing
As you listen to other writers share their work, compare their skills with yours. Is the quality of your stories close to theirs? If so, muster up the confidence to take a turn receiving critique. If not, what can you learn from the techniques they use? Does someone have a similar writing problem to yours? What advice did the others give her? Apply that feedback to your work, and you will quickly grow in your skill as a writer and feel confident participating.
Take a Writing Class
With a low risk factor, taking a writing class is a good choice when it comes to sharing your writing with others. Students enter the class in the same situation—all are there to learn skills from a teacher. Working one-on-one with an instructor to guide you not only gives you the feedback you need to grow as a writer, but the classroom situation is less intimidating if students do critique each other’s work.
No time for taking a class? Consider signing up for a workshop. Most fall in the range of a one- or two-day event, and it’s a great way to get your feet wet. The more work you put into learning, the easier it gets to participate.
Work with an Editor to Gain Confidence (I know a good one)
An editor’s job is to help writers tell their stories. When the relationship between editor and writer is a good one, the writer gains experience and confidence along the way to producing a manuscript ready for publication. While hiring an editor isn’t the cheapest route, it’s an investment in your career.
Did I mention I know a good editor?
Remember Every Writer Has Been Where You Are
Even seasoned writers struggle from time to time when sharing work with their peers. But if you surround yourself with likeminded individuals with the shared goal of improving your own writing and helping others do the same, chances are the process will become less and less painful with time.
You might even come to find it rewarding.
Are you a writer struggling to share your work with others? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Related posts: Self-care for the Discouraged Writer