If someone ever makes you feel bad about your writing, walk away as fast as you can, and don’t look back.
Writing can be very lonely. Characters traipse around in our brains, visible only to us. Somehow, with a bit of magic and tenacity, we take that inner world and transmute it into words. This magic is something solitary. Alone, we struggle with characters in the mists of our imagination until they take form and become tangible.A novel cannot exist in a bubble and writers are missing out on a tremendous resource if they are not looking to grow their writing community. Up until about four years ago, I never had the courage to let another soul see my writing, despite the fact I desperately wanted to share my words, to see the delight another might find in my prose, the same pleasure I experience when lost in a good book. But if they told me my writing was bad, I would be devastated, and I just wasn’t prepared for that.
There was another terrifying possibility that kept me from sharing my work. What if someone lied and told me it was terrific when it sucked? Would I proceed self-deluded because no one had the heart to tell me to stop? I envisioned myself like one of those poor souls that audition for a popular singing show, tone deaf and unaware their voice is reminiscent of a passing siren because no one around them could muster the courage to tell them what they sounded like. Perhaps that is part of why I can’t stomach those shows, they mirror my greatest fear, that I only think I’m talented.
Self-doubt is an issue many authors grapple with. One of my favorite quotes is by literary great, Gustave Flaubert, who said, “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” As authors, we are often too close to our own writing to accurately assess both its shortcomings and beauties. This is why getting eyes on your writing is so important. Seek out other like-minded individuals and build a community around you who you feel comfortable sharing your heart and soul with.
There are several different places to go looking for like-minded eyes, and the first is often the most overlooked, your writing platform. While you work to gather an audience, you have, no doubt, made connections with other writers. As those connections deepen into friendships, the opportunity to form critique groups and critique partners will naturally develop. Take full advantage of that. Check out local writing communities, too. I run a local writer’s group with 64 members. It has been a wild, exhausting, and at times infuriating experience, but through it, I have gained several trusted friends who I swap work with on a regular basis. I’m not saying you have to create a group. The chances are good that one already exists and you can swoop in and start building those relationships without the work and heartache I put forth.
Just remember, writing is a fragile thing, and self-doubt and fear are creatures that can easily consume the desire to write. Be sure to carefully screen the people you give your writing to, especially earlier drafts. The people who provide you feedback should be honest but always constructive. They should build you up and make you excited to revise. If someone ever makes you feel bad about your writing, walk away as fast as you can, and don’t look back.
About Kelsey Stone
Kelsey Stone is an aspiring author and current Master’s of Fine Arts in Fiction candidate. Her latest project, a science fiction novel titled Sabiak’s Creed, is currently being reviewed by several agents. Check out what she has to say about writing and peruse her short stories on http://www.tibetanlemon.com or connect with her on facebook or on Twitter or Instagram as @scifistone