Do we write for ourselves? Or others?
There’s a paradox to being a writer. We do all this work in solitude, for reasons beyond ordinary comprehension.
We know that we need to write, no matter the outcomes. We do it for personal fulfillment. Yes
But as much as writing satisfies a personal need, it's also about our need to connect. Our work isn’t complete until it’s witnessed by another.
Our stories are born to be read. That’s what they want. It's what we want -- to make something, and to have it be seen.
It doesn’t always feel easy. It can be scary to emerge from the protected seedling stage of “working on it.”
But putting our work out there is a big part of the trip! It's life-giving. And it takes courage.
Even if you’ve done it hundreds of times before, sharing a new piece can feel like you’re putting a delicate seedling up on the chopping block.
Of course, we want be careful. We want readers who understand how to handle a baby sprout!
It might feel weird or wobbly to ask for help, to request someone's eyes on an early draft.
If you're waiting until a piece is “good as possible” before you reach toward a reader, examine that impulse to wait. So often a little love from a trusted reader is exactly what our work needs to grow.
Once we’ve worked through a few drafts, we need to trust our process, and submit to publication.
This is what it looks like to honour and appreciate our work at every stage. You get to love the energy of the sprout, love the awkward growing stages, and love the and submit the tidy draft that’s been through several rounds of revision.
You have permission to share the incoherent beginnings of your new idea, new voice, new story.
It gives me courage to remember that my writing is not me.
And that the pages I write are stronger than I think.
I know my nerves might try to protect me from sending the attachment. Or (especially!) reading it out loud. Yikes!
Sweaty palms, racing heart. Adrenaline surge.
If you experience these signals, that just means you care about your work. That’s why it feels like something is at stake here! The fear is real, and it doesn't necessarily mean you're actually in danger.
Your work is stronger than you think.
Your writing can withstand someone else’s eyes, ears, and even their commentary! It gets to live another day, proud to be here, growing and alive, not taking things too seriously.
Loving your work in all of its stages is also a great way to encourage yourself to keep writing, and stay easy about it.
Reach out, and ask for a reader! Even before it's "done." Because your writing is here to be read.
Photo credit (top): Barry Bibbs on Unsplash