Sometimes even things we love can be scary. You might love skiing, but a faster slope than you usually choose could be frightening. Fishing can be relaxing for you when you’re on the side of a river or stream, but the thought of deep-sea fishing might make you cringe.
Sharing things we love can be scary, especially if they’re things we’ve created ourselves.
It’s widely known that most people have a fear of public speaking, even though they might very well love to talk. Fear of heights or of falling are totally understandable – there is a real risk of painful physical consequences. But why are we so afraid to share our creative endeavors?
Probably because of the risks of painful emotional consequences. Embarrassment and other feelings can hurt just as much in their own way. Revealing your creative work opens you up to judgment, and that’s not an easy position to put yourself in.
I’m writing this just a little less than a month before my first short story will be published as part of an anthology. I’m simultaneously excited and worried. Now, since my story was chosen for inclusion by the editor, you’d think that I wouldn’t be so freaked out.
I’m working on a novella and two full-length novels that will be published in the near future so it’s an issue I know I’ll need to get used to – at least as much as possible. From speaking with well-established writers, I’ve learned that feeling never entirely goes away. Sometimes it morphs into excitement more than fear, but a trace of worry apparently remains.
No matter what it is you’re hesitant to share, here is some of the best advice I’ve received about this issue. I hope it helps you to share your enjoyment in whatever it is you’d love to share!
1. Try to keep things in perspective.
Odds are, nothing too terrible is going to happen even if you share your creative work and it either gets unkind commentary or no commentary at all.
2. Figure out what exactly it is that scares you.
Are you worried about criticism? Personal insults? In the age of social media, you’d think these fears would be behind us… But of course, they aren’t. How you handle criticism depends on the situation. If it’s constructive criticism given within a chosen group, listen to it with an open mind and decide what to incorporate into your next project. If it’s public criticism that isn’t going to change the way you approach whatever it is you created or benefits you, then it’s safe to ignore it. Don’t let somebody else sour you and taint your enjoyment of what you love to do.
3. Find or choose one person among your closest friends who shares your interest.
You don’t have to share with a lot of people. Try just sharing with one! Pick someone with whom you can be totally honest and don’t hesitate to say something like, “It’s hard for me to share this, and I’m trying to get better at doing that, so could you take a look (or listen, as the case may be) and tell me what you think?”
4. Find a group of other people who share your interest.
Look for a workshop group, a club, hobbyists, or any other type of group of people who are also interested in whatever creative outlet makes you happy. You can find them online, through Facebook groups for your area, through local libraries, and in other places depending on your interest and your geographical location. One good thing that came out of the pandemic has been the increased use of Zoom and other live meeting technology. Take advantage of it.
5. Share just a little bit of something.
You don’t have to share a whole book, a complete poem, an entire song, the finished blanket you crocheted, or anything else in its entirety. You can share just a little bit of something and start there.
6. If you want a specific type of feedback, ask for it.
You can try to limit the scope of feedback you receive if you share your creative work asking for feedback of a certain type or types. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t get more than you asked for, but it might limit the directions into which your respondents will go.
When an anthology is published, sometimes people review the entirety of it in general. Sometimes people review and comment on specific stories within the whole. I know that my particular story may never be reviewed by anyone. Only the editor’s name goes on the cover. But my name – my pen name – is at the top of my story and the materials that accompany the book. Seeing it there is undeniably exciting and almost surreal.
I’m going to be confronting my fears head-on May 9th and couldn’t be happier about it.
How do you handle times when you need to confront fears? I’d be interested in knowing what you have to say about the subject. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com and share with me.