Today I want to talk about courage. There are a lot of nerve-wracking parts to being a writer: finishing a novel, letting others read it, sending it off to agents and publishers, seeing readers’ reactions to your baby (I mean, book).
There’s another daunting aspect of being a writer. It doesn’t affect everyone in the same way and it’s rarely mentioned, but it can be just as scary as any of the things listed above: telling others about your writing.
Until a few years ago, the thought of telling people that I was a writer, of revealing such a personal, vulnerable side of me, made my mouth dry and my heart pound. What would they say? Would they laugh? What if they asked to read my stories? And the longer I kept my writing a secret and hid it from the people around me, the harder it became to tell them the truth.
But here’s the thing: writing is such a big part of my life. In keeping it from the people I love, I was keeping myself—the true me—from them too. I wasn’t free to be who I was around them because I had to hide what I did, and that really put a strain on me. Have you ever felt like this before? If so, you’ll know it’s no way to live.
So what did I do? I told my friends and family that I wrote. It was scary, a complete step into the unknown, but I did it and I’m so glad I did. My fears didn’t transpire. They didn’t laugh, they were very supportive, and now I can talk freely about a very big part of my life.
If you’re still undecided whether or not to let others know that you’re a writer, here’s my advice to you: take it one step at a time. Here’s how I did went about it.
You don’t have to go announce that you write to a family gathering. Start small.
My first step was to find a place to share my writing online, which let me meet other writers and get to know them. Sites like Wattpad, Authonomy and Booksie allow you to post your creative works and receive feedback, perfect if you want readers, second opinions and critiques. They’re also a great place to meet like-minded people.
In my case, having other writers to talk to let me express a part of myself I’d never spoken about before, and sharing my stories with others gave me more confidence, accustomed me to calling myself a writer, and worked as a stepping stone to the next stage…
Confide in a Small Circle
If you’re not ready, don’t force yourself in front of the family gathering just yet. Take things one step at a time. Try confiding in a small group or just the one person. Lead the conversation towards writing or jump straight in and tell your closest friends or family members about what writing really means to you. Let them know how important their understanding and support is to you and how you trust them enough to share this with them.
I did this about a year after I started posting my writing online. One of my friends actually saw my novel over my shoulder while I was writing it one day. Rather than try to hide it, as I usually would, I swallowed my nerves, told him about my writing and let him read some of it, which he was very kind about. I haven’t looked back since.
My advice: find someone you can confide in, even if it’s only one person. There’s nothing like being able to actually talk to someone about writing and the support they can offer is incredibly encouraging.
From there, if you feel comfortable with it, go on to tell others. Break the silence. If people ask what you like to do in your spare time, stand tall and tell them you write. It’s a part of who you are. Be proud of it and let others be proud of you for that.
Have you ever hidden the fact that you write from others? What was the main thing that held you back?