One of my biggest challenges as an aspiring writer is just letting people see my work. I’ve written a great deal more than I’ve shared. By far. My normal response has been that it’s not done. It’s not perfect. It’s not even close to perfect. I like the Steven King quote that says “Write with the door closed. Edit with the door open.” But lately I have been thinking perhaps I am just using this as an excuse not to share.
Of course there is a lot to be said about getting your work together before submitting for critique, especially if you will be too easily swayed from your intent with your writing. At some point however you have to let it out into the scary world and get some fresh perspective. This has not been a strength of mine.
I do recognize the importance of changing that – and have challenged myself to be better about that in this year long writing challenge. I’ll have work to submit. I’m writing every day! So I’m further challenging myself to not just write every day, but to then share my work and look for feedback to make it better.
Besides the obvious benefit of having thoughtful critique done of my work, I believe I’ll benefit greatly from the growth that will come with learning to have confidence in my work. Yes, it won’t be perfect. It may not even be that good. I need to believe in the work that I am doing, though, and the more I submit my work, the more I will have to decide what comments are going to make my work better and which I can just ignore. I’ll have to believe in myself and my work to do that. If I can’t do it now, in a supportive environment like a writer’s circle, how will I ever survive book reviews and reader comments? Time to toughen up.
I recently read a great article that detailed getting the movie Swingers made ( grantland.com/features/an-oral-history-swingers ) and it really made me think about having confidence in my work and my voice. Like many great success stories, our hero, in this case screenplay writer Jon Favreau, faces many obstacles before successfully reaching his goal. It made an impression with me how he was able to stick with his vision and believed in it enough to remain consistent in effort to get the movie made and made in the way he wanted. I wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t finished it (something I struggle with) or if he hadn’t shared it (again I stuggle) and then if he hadn’t believed in it enough to fight for it (hello yes that’s me).
I obsessively pin writing quotes and inspiration on my Pinterest board, and this quote is one of my favorites. I often remind myself of this and will continue to as I work to go confidently in the direction of my dreams as Thoreau would suggest.
Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell. – Charles de Lint.