On Sharing Your Work

Showing people your work is scary.

Work that you’ve slaved over, put your heart into, written and rewritten, drawn and redrawn.

And if you’re not at least a little worried about having other people read or see your work, please let me know (and teach me your ways).

I took a creative writing class last year that focused on the workshopping process. The first instruction given to us by our professor was to remain silent if it was our work being discussed. We were not to interject with an explanation or defense. There was time after to ask questions, but during the initial analysis, the writer was turned into a quiet observer.

This instruction was meant to help us to understand that what we intend to do really doesn’t matter that much if it’s not coming across to the reader. Of course, being able to bounce your ideas off of other people and get their input on how to connect with the readers is important. But understanding that it was my responsibility, and not the readers’, to make the meaning clear was an important lesson.

It can be easy as an artist to become defensive of your work when other people don’t understand it. I think it’s a natural reaction to feel protective of the work you dedicated so much feeling and time to.

Besides what the workshop process did for my writing, going through this class made me a tiny bit more open to sharing my work. I understand that no one wants my work to be bad. No one is out to rip apart the things I write… unless they’re doing it because they know I can be better. That knowledge doesn’t offer much consolation at the time, but it does makes me feel better when I reflect.

The point here is this: every artist knows the fear of sharing their work. But you can only get better when you share your work. I know it’s a process to get to that place, and it can be even harder to show someone your work when you know that they’re looking for places to improve it. But once you get there, it’ll be good for you.

My advice isn’t to not be afraid, because that’s unreasonable (or I would’ve felt it was unreasonable, had someone given that advice to me). My advice is to show your work when the time comes, even if you are afraid. Remember that people are on your side.

Wherever you are in the process is great. Do what feels right for you and your work, because art is a very personal thing. And when the time comes that you do share, I know there will be people out there who will be so happy that you did.

Let me leave you with this. It’s a scene I particularly like from a great movie.

Danielle

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