"I want to do the thing, but I'm afraid of sharing with people because of how critical people can be."
I get this question a lot (just got it again last week!) so I thought I'd write an answer to the ask'er more broadly:
As always, you inspired me! Your blogpost about writing hit home. Writing is not my best craft as well. Like you, I have tons of ideas. Do you have advise for someone like me that afraid of social media exposure but love to join the bandwagon as I know I can share and maybe inspire others? Love to touch base if possible.
Who hasn't been here? You write or video or code or create something and put it out in the world and of course, there are random people who are "kindly explaining" what you're wrong about or should do differently. It happens ALL the time and to almost everyone. It just happened to me too. After I published one of these blogs, someone DM'ed me on LinkedIn explaining how they would write differently if they were me, unsolicited advice on what I should be reading, etc. This person is NOT an author so I did what I always do:
1. Listened to the feedback
2. Decided if it was something I wanted to address (didn't find it valuable so I didn't address it)
3. Moved on
When you've been doing this for a long time and you are used it, it becomes less of an issue because you develop tons of systems that let you filter out noise. When you're starting out though, you're feeling vulnerable about your new thing and getting random criticism from someone…it's enough to make you want to crawl back into your shell and never share again.
When I first started taking fiction writing class in 2002, the class worked like this: There were around 30 people in the class. Everyone was working on a novel. People would bring in chapters to read aloud for 5-10 minutes to get feedback from the class. At the end of the reading, anyone could raise their hand and offer feedback. I was TERRIFIED of this. I wasn't convinced that I should be an author at all at that point, and I definitely didn't want to read in front of 30 people, feel like a complete and utter imposter.
Instead I came up with a hack:
- I found a writing partner…another young woman in the class who was also starting her writing career. We agreed we'd read each other's work and offer feedback, no judgement. I wrote a chapter every week and sent it to her to read and give me feedback. She did the same. We did this for about 3 months.
- Once we both got comfortable with this and wanted more POVs, the two of us created a small reading group with 3 others. We all read each other's work and exchanged feedback. Having this weekly writing group REALLY kept me accountable to creating new chapters every week.
- Because we were all genuinely helping each other, I didn’t mind any negative feedback because I ASKED for it and we had a trust relationship.
- After 3 months of this, I was comfortable enough to read aloud in class….though I kept the same critique group for 5 years where I would "vet" my work first.
You can do the same thing. Find someone who's also starting off with doing their thing. Ask if you can read, watch, share each other's work. Having an audience, even a tiny one, will really help you prioritize making the time to create more. I do this with Ioana Tanase & Jeremiah Marble. First draft of everything 5-8 related: writing, a sketch, a new scheme, these blog posts, etc….they see the first draft of all of it. Likewise, I get an early behind the scenes look at their work. We've been doing this for about 4 years now.
These early thought partners could become lifelong friends like Ioana and Jeremiah have become to me because of the intense trust relationship you build.
Once you are used to sharing with your thought partner or small group, and you have built up your confidence and skills, then you can expand your audience. Keep it private for as long as you want. It can be months or even years. Only once you feel comfortable sharing, share more broadly. By then the work won't be so "new" that you won't feel as sensitive about it.
Another option is of course to create under a pseudonym and share broadly from day 1. TONS of people do this, including famous authors and artists.
Those are some of my hacks to deal with the pressures of sharing--I'd love to hear yours!
Dona is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Prima Dona Studios, a fashion line that helps women achieve economic power. When you put on one of our pieces, we guarantee that you'll feel like the total bad@ss that you are and be compelled to pursue your wildest goals.
We also pay the woman who hand-tailored your garment Seattle wages no matter where she lives. To learn more about us, visit us here: https://primadonastudios.com/