Are you reluctant when it comes to sharing your writing?
Sharing Writing to Get Feedback
We have a ritual in book writing class. At the end of the call, people are free to leave or to stay on the line to listen to one classmate read a page or so from their rough draft and offer feedback to the writer—sharing what drew them in, phrases that moved them, writing techniques, observations about what works well in the piece, etc.
I often use the opportunity to point out how the author employed certain techniques we learned about in class. Sometimes I share a tip or two for improvements, but, by and large, we focus on what’s already working. Participants love the opportunity to hear each other’s work and to reinforce the writing concepts we discuss in class.
The bigger transformation, though, is what sharing writing does for the emerging author reading his or her piece.
Sharing Writing Can Reinvigorate You
One week that really stuck out for me was when the writer/reader had been struggling with writing about a painful topic. “Why am I putting myself through all this pain again? Am I just increasing the pain in the world to revisit this?” She seriously considered quitting.
She got her answer after sharing her writing on the call. While all our readings were inspirational, after this one you could hear the emotion in each speaker’s voice as classmates shared the impact the piece had on them. Some shared how personal the writing was for them (having been through a related experience). Others shared how they could see how impactful this writing and information would be to readers who found themselves in need of the advice in the book.
Each share affirmed this writer’s calling to write her book. Classmates confirmed that this book was sorely needed. Although the writer expected the material to feel heavy, it became clear that people actually felt lighter. It was as if, in sharing her burden, she’d enabled others to share theirs and not carry their related burdens all alone. It reminds me of that trick where everyone puts a pinky under a heavy dinner table and—lo and behold—when we all raise our pinkies at the same time, our pinkies lift the table into the air.
Yes, her book had to revisit the painful points in her journey, but it also offered wisdom, experience, support, nourishment, important information along the way. The stories, though covering difficult emotional territory, also spoke to readers’ situations and helped them know they are not alone. That is one of the most basic human needs—to know we are not alone in our suffering. Even more helpful, her book offered hope that, no matter the outcome, one can survive loss and find new meaning in life.
Yes, there can be challenging points along your book writing journey. Sharing writing, reading aloud to supportive others—in a class, on the phone, to a friend—can give you that boost you need to know how important it is for you to get over the challenges and write your book in spite of—no because of—these challenges. The world needs your voice, your wisdom, your words. Share them.
You don’t have to share a super-polished draft of your writing either. Just trust, in that moment, your words, rough as they may be, can move your listener.
Don’t wait. Someone is there who can be touched today, who can remind you why you’re writing this book. They can help you move from stuck or even discouraged to hopeful, heartened, healing and reinvigorated, once you realize the effect of your writing on that person.
Sharing Your Writing is a Shift and a Gift!
One classmate said that he saw how the author’s writing would free her readers. This opened up a whole new way of seeing things.
Where she had worried about burdening her readers, after sharing her writing, her classmate saw freedom for her readers. And she realized he was right.
Looking for more inspiration? You may enjoy this post about tapping into creativity and flow.