Putting You(r Writing) Out There

As far back as my memories go, I have memories of writing.  I created my first picture book at age 5 or 6, a book of poems at 7 or 8, my first pieces of short stories by 10.   I have always been a writer.

Yet, it took a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, several writing workshops, years of teaching experience, and some major growing up before I truly felt okay putting my writing “out there.”  Out there — into the internet, mostly, this vast unknown where strangers or – scarier yet – friends and people I know (!) could find it and read it.  I started small – Facebook posts, a blog, snippets of my stories shared here or there, a group of beta readers, even a few (poorly publicized) books on Amazon.

But then, this summer, I found out about something new: Wattpad.  I was intrigued by its social nature, and immediately saw its value as a place to find like-minded writers and readers, to build a network of support, and to get feedback on my writing.  I shared some of my older stories up, and I didn’t get much action.  But then, I took the plunge.  I wrote and posted brand new content that I created specifically for Wattpad, and put it up.  I wasn’t sure how people would respond, or if at all.  In fact, halfway through writing it, I almost trashed it because I thought it wasn’t any good.  I was terrified and a little embarrassed to have my writing read.  But, I put it up, held my breath, and waited, in the meantime exploring the site and starting to make some friends and read others’ works.

This was in July.  It is now December, and I never could have anticipated what happened.  One of my stories has thousands of reads.  Thousands!  And I have received dozens of comments, messages, valuable feedback on my writing and, beyond that, questions and compliments about me as the writer and my experiences.  My story got chosen by the Wattpad staff to be a Featured story, my reads and votes kept climbing, and I even won a Watty’s award!  (I’m still in shock over that one!)

It was unlike anything I’d experienced so far, and I was loving it.  So I decided to do more.  I wrote an original story in a new genre for me — Teen Fiction — and posted it in segments.  The feedback I received on that one was amazing, too!  So many kind comments, people connecting with my characters… suddenly, my story was brought to life in a way I never imagined it could be.  My readers were choosing favorites, cheering my characters on — they made my story REAL.  Some readers even requested I write an additional chapter once the story was completed (which I gladly did). That story has been up only a few weeks, and it already has thousands of reads, and getting more every day.  People are reading my writing!  People. Are reading. My writing.  They’re even liking it, it seems.

So what’s the point?  Had I let my fear stop me from putting my writing out there, I never would have known the possibilities.  I never would have experienced the rush, the joy, of connecting with readers and seeing my stories come to life through their eyes.  I would have missed ALL of it, simply because I was worried about failing, or having a disappointing outcome, or receiving unkind feedback.

You see, writing is very personal.  Putting your writing out there is very much like putting YOU out there.  But, just like you can’t just hide yourself away and hope to one day magically have loads of fabulous friends, you can’t hide your writing away and expect that one day someone will discover it.  Putting it out there is a risk, sure, but it’s one worth taking because your story is worth sharing.  Your story needs to be read.

After all, that’s why you wrote it, isn’t it?

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