We writers believe a lot of lies, especially when it comes to hitting "send," clicking "post," or any other method we might try to get our writing out there. Here are the most common lies we believe about sharing our writing:
Lie #1: You have nothing new to say.
The internet is huge - like, massively-beyond-our-comprehension huge. Google returns MILLIONS of search results on just about any topic. So what could a new voice possibly add to the conversation? That voice in your head that whispers this lie to you is subterranean-level-insidious and clutches at you unexpectedly, usually when you are sitting down to write.
Here's the truth though: it doesn't matter if you have nothing new to say (gasp!). It really doesn't. New is not better, it's just new, and need I remind you there is nothing new under the sun. Next time this lie slips into your brain, cut it off at the knees. It's irrelevant.
Lie #2: No one cares what you have to say. You are nobody.
I know this one well. It's my Achilles' heel. I'm shaking internally even as I write this because this lie still has a little bit of a grip on me. But I shake it off T-Swift-style every darn day because the only way to get rid of it is to do the opposite of what it tells you to do. Don't pitch that magazine, it whispers. They have plenty of writers. They won't care about your article. SEND. Don't bother posting to Instagram. You got like 20 likes yesterday. No one reads them. POST. Slowly, the truth that SOME people actually do care what I have to say begins to gain traction over time.
And that whole you are a nobody bit? Here's the truth: Dr. Seuss had it figured out. There is no one around who is you-er than you. Your mom wasn't lying when she said you were special. Every human is because we all have innate worth. So, if you consider yourself a human, then you are automatically somebody important.
Lie #3: The only legitimate way to get your words out there is to be published in a book or a print magazine (or maybe a really, really well-known online magazine or blog).
This lie banks on the idea that fame is your ultimate goal in sharing your writing. If you are one of the very few (possibly nonexistent) writers who only wants to use writing as a means to fame, good luck with that.
But I'm willing to bet you care about a lot and have a lot of reasons to share your writing. Maybe your reason is to connect with others, or share your story so other people in a similar situation won't feel so lonely. Maybe you just love your story and you want to talk to other people about it. Maybe you want to incite change, encourage people, highlight injustice, or fill-in-the-blank.
And guess what? If your reason for sharing is almost anything other than being famous then it doesn't matter if you post your work to your blog with three followers, to your Instagram account with ten followers, or just leave it on a park bench for a stranger to read. Sharing a little for a good reason is WAY BETTER than sharing a lot for a silly reason.
Think about why you want to share your writing and then write it on a sticky note. Put it on your laptop or desk. Read it whenever you feel like all the avenues you have for sharing your work aren't the real thing.
Lie #4: It's self-absorbed to share your writing and expect people to read it.
Um. No. Was J.K. Rowling self-absorbed for writing and publishing Harry Potter? Was it self-absorbed of Dr. Seuss (he's the star of this post apparently) to keep submitting his work for publishing despite getting rejection after rejection? Nope.
Truth-bomb: Words want to be shared. It's like how a horcrux doesn't want to die and will fight against anyone trying to kill it. Your words want to get out into the wide world -- so they will rattle around in your soul until you let them out. It's how God made us; we want to share our thoughts and ideas. After all, we wouldn't need words if we were the only human on earth.
Lie #5: No one will like your writing.
Here is where the liar gets desperate. It's like a last-ditch effort. Wait, none of those worked? You're still going to share your work? Well, fine. I bet everyone HATES it! Well, Dumbledore has something to say to you: "Really [your name here], if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin [er, sitting sadly in front of your computer] for a very long time.”
Your work won't be universally adored (that's impossible). But back away from the extremes and find a comfy place in the middle. Sure, not everyone will love your work, but not everyone will hate it. There will be a good number of people who love it, plenty who enjoy it, and a few who just won't be interested in it. The best way to fight this lie is not to make yourself believe that everyone will like your work, but to accept that some people won't like it and be okay with it.
These five main lies keep us from experiencing the joy and reaping the fruits of sharing our writing. Imagine what would happen if you no longer believed any of these lies! If you are like me, your writing practice would change dramatically. So let's attack these lies at the roots and plant truth instead.
Action steps for this post:
- Write down the truths you most need to remember from this post. Hang it up wherever you normally write.
- Read the truths to yourself every day (try doing it while you are brushing your teeth).
What lies do you struggle with? How do you combat them?