Right now, you are reading this post on a public website with short stories free to read by all, but until only the beginning of this year was I terrified to share my fiction with anyone.
I didn’t even share my ideas.
Especially not my ideas. For they were unoriginal, boring, bad, uninteresting.
But I overcame all of those insecurities. Well, all… Most of them. And now I much more easily share my ideas and early drafts with friends and family, and my resulting fiction with all of you.
Am I insecure about your opinion? Of course! Writing is such a personal endeavour and like every artist a critique on my writing feels like a critique on me. But I have grown so much into my own as a writer that I trust myself to produce the best possible story I can – and with that has come the confidence I needed to start sharing.
You can get there too if you struggle with this right now!
We are all different writers with our own preferred methods, so all I can do is share my own experiences and hope you might find some sort of comfort in the fact that if I overcame my crippling insecurity, trust me, so can you!
Where did I start? At the very bottom of the writer’s chain. I thought about writing. I knew I wanted to write. But I didn’t know about what. Or even how. So I didn’t.
For me my first order of business was: research. I had dabbled a little into the world of writing fanfiction, but my experience in writing short drabbles wasn’t enough to get me through a decent short story. My hopes weren’t high since I never managed to write a proper short fanfiction story.
So I researched: online, in books, in magazines. I enrolled into online writing courses.
But as important as that research was to give me confidence that I knew the theory around how to write a story, it is quite different to actually writing a story!
Others might consult a friend or a relative. Perhaps you have a writing group you can brainstorm about your story with. I, however, have never been part of a writing group and even if I had been, I probably would never have come forward with any plot ideas, since I never shared any of them with anyone – not a stranger, not a loved one. I really was deeply insecure and scared.
Then came December last year. I wrote another fanfic, a Christmas-themed Spider-Man fanfic. And I was quite proud of it, so I made a website and published it. No strings attached. I just wanted a couple of friends to have something nice to read for Christmas. I knew it was a small story, with little plot but hopefully lots of fuzzy feelings. I figured I couldn’t really go wrong with it.
I received wonderful comments from friends and family who read it.
And that was the start of my true journey as a writer. I felt so inspired by their comments and by the joy I felt writing that I knew I had to further pursue it.
And so I started to brainstorm more seriously about stories and put into action all I had learned about character development and plot from all the articles and books I had read and the online courses I had taken.
Inspiration started to flow. But I still wasn’t ready to share any of it with anyone, because I knew this was it: I was either going to get this writing thing going, or I’d never get back to it and leave writing behind forever.
Ten months on and I am pleased to say that despite many a setback I stuck with it and I have written so much (relatively, for me) and received so many wonderful comments from friends and family (growing a readership is tough) that I cannot imagine not writing anymore.
And with that has come the confidence. With each story I plotted, with each line I edited, I felt my confidence grow. With each story I hit ‘publish’ on, I felt more at ease with sharing my writing.
Because writing is so deeply personal, it can truly feel impossible to share it. But through determination and quite frankly, hard work did I manage to grow the confidence to start sharing. Sharing my fiction, my plots and my ideas.
Plus it also makes for a great motivator if you tell people about your ideas, because it makes you want to finish them even more!
Of course I still have days where I read my writing and shake my head in disbelief at how bad it is and sometimes not a decent idea comes to me for months on end. Plus each publication day remains scary, because of course you want people to like what you wrote!
But in a relatively short period of time, once I got really serious about writing, I achieved what I never thought I’d be able to do: share my work with the outside world. Because I did – do – my very best with each story to make it the best I could possibly make it.
And that in the end is all you can do.