Going Public With Our Writing

In the last post I went “public” with my book cover. I have to admit, it was a little scary to unveil it for everyone to critique. But I can't thank you enough for all of your kind words!

Many writers are very private about their writing life, often writing for years without telling anyone, except perhaps a few close friends or family members. This was true for me. I admit, I was a “closet writer.” (Read about it here.)

Many of my real life friends knew I “liked” to write, but the writing was relegated to “hobby” status, similar to gardening or knitting. But writing isn’t the kind of “hobby” that naturally comes up in conversations. We can exchange zucchini recipes, but writing techniques? Uh-uh.

When I finished writing The Preacher’s Bride, I told some of my close friends I wanted to try to get it published and that I was hunting for an agent. But I didn’t broadcast the news to the world. After all, what if I failed? The fewer people who knew, the better (or so I thought). Then if things didn’t work out, I wouldn’t have to do so much explaining.

I believed it would be easier to be open about my writing when I actually had more positive news to share, when publication was within my grasp.

But even with publication only months away, and now with my book cover “out there,” I’ve realized it’s still not easy. When I’ve kept my writing private for so many years and have down-played its significance in my life, I still find myself minimizing it, particularly with real life friends.

How do we begin to tell people about our writing, especially if we’ve kept it private for so long? Should we throw it into a conversation: “We’re doing fine. The kids are finally finished with all their hacking and fevers. Oh, and by the way, did you know I’m a writer and that I’ve got a book coming out in the fall?”

What I’ve contracted and what many of us face is a long-lasting case of Insecurity, with a capital “I.” We walk around paralyzed and speechless, battling a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and fear of rejection. Whether we’re starting out, well on our way to publication, or even beyond, we’re all susceptible to the nasty germs of Insecurity.

So, what is the antidote for the disease? How can we have more confidence to go public with our writing? Here are a few ideas:

1. Bring it up: Yep. How will they know if we don’t tell them? Especially, the friends we see less frequently. Most people start a conversation by saying, “So, how’ve you been lately?” Ahhh, the perfect moment to step out of our comfort zone. “Well, I’ve been pretty busy lately with my writing. . .”

A more subtle way to share about our writing is through the Internet. I have my book title, blog address, and other links in an automatic signature for all emails. I’ve had several real life friends “discover” my writing through that signature.

From time to time on Facebook, I’ll make a writing-related comment. I don’t do it often because I have so many real-life friends there. But when I do make comments, invariably I get the “I didn’t know you were a writer” reply which offers another opportunity to share.

2. Believe in ourselves: Instead of downplaying the importance of writing in our lives, we need to be honest about how vital it is. To those of us serious about publication, writing is NOT a hobby. It’s so much more. If we minimize it, then others in our lives will too. But once we respect ourselves as writers, hopefully those around us will follow suit.

3. Bless others: Often when I tell others I’m a writer, I’ll get a response like, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book.” I used to think, “What do they think? Getting a book published is a cake walk? Don’t they understand how hard I’ve had to work to get where I’m at?” The fact is—a non-writer won’t understand, not until they try it for themselves.

Instead, I use those occasions to encourage them to pursue their dreams, give them resources that may help, try to point them in the right direction, and offer to help in any way I can.

What about you? How public are you with your writing life? Are you battling Insecurity? Or are you gaining confidence, and if so, what’s helped you go public?

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