As a writer, the biggest problem I have is sharing my work. I’ve wasted a lot of time not letting anyone see it. In the past, I would never tell anybody what I was working on, let alone post it online or try and get it published. Instead, I would write a rough draft as quickly as possible, then stuff it away in a drawer without ever looking at it again. I got so used to hiding my writing from the world and even from myself… but why?
That’s where my problem with sharing connects to my problem with vulnerability. I’m currently reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly. It’s showing me how much I hide in an effort to avoid being vulnerable and letting people really see me. I keep my writing tucked away, I never talk about it, and I never try to publish it because I’m too scared. I’m scared of not being good enough. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared of putting all of my honesty into my writing and letting strangers analyze, critique, and possibly tear me apart.
One of my favorite quotes in Daring Greatly is when Brené talks about how nervous she was to give her TED Talk. As she walked up to the stage to speak, she quietly said to herself, “Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”
That is the kind of courage I’m working on: to be seen. I never let anyone see anything – not my inner thoughts, my writing process, or even the pieces I’ve finished and am proud of. That’s the number one thing that has stopped me from improving as a writer.
Sharing your art and writing is one of the most difficult things because it’s so personal. Letting someone else see your work feels like you’re splitting yourself open and leaving yourself completely vulnerable to be attacked. But what progress can be made without vulnerability? How can you gain any rewards without taking any risks?
“To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s also vulnerability.”
If you know me in person, then you know how much I love the podcast My Favorite Murder. I’ve been going through the catalogue and listening to earlier episodes when I was struck by a conversation in episode 78 “The Freshest Recording” where they talked about perfectionism. While listening, I had this sinking realization that this is another thing stopping me. Often times, the perfectionist in us drives our fear and stops us from not only improving, but connecting with others as well. I’ve been working on pushing myself to share more of my work, but I have stopped myself so many times because the poem or story isn’t “perfect” yet. I don’t want anyone else to see it until it’s completely “perfect.” But what does perfect even mean? How would I ever achieve that? Why am I setting such impossibly high standards for myself when I still have so much I want to learn and explore and try?
In that My Favorite Murder episode, Georgia says, “You don’t have to be perfect, just fucking do things.” And Karen adds on, “Just fucking do what you wanna do. You’ll improve later.” Perfection and fear of failing often stop us from ever finishing things, but actually finishing things is the most important part. The more we finish things and the more we share them, the more we can improve and learn about ourselves. Listening to that conversation felt like a groundbreaking moment for me, and I never expected it to come from a podcast about murder, but everything they said felt completely true and honest.
So I’m grateful I started this blog. Right now it feels like I’m the only person reading this, but it’s still a huge step for me. Sharing my work, improving, and not worrying about being perfect are all things that will make me a better writer.
I’ve also been sharing my poetry on my Instagram. I started doing this a few months ago, but in a moment of self-doubt, I deleted all of my posts and recently started over. This time I’m not going to delete anything. I’m going to share my writing (no matter what stage of development it’s in) and keep on trying to learn. Not everything I post will be my best work or “perfect,” but I need let go and put myself out there.
Perfection doesn’t matter; All that matters is that I’m doing it. Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.