Writing has always just been for fun…
but are you ready to put it out there for others?
Sometimes, all a thing needs to be is fun. And I think that’s where a lot of us start with our writing. In a lot of ways, writing just-for-fun is a bit like having your own secret entrance to a magical world, isn’t it? In that world are mysteries and wonders and treasures that are waiting just for you.
But…are you starting to think that maybe those treasures should be shared? If the world might even pay for the privilege of entering your secret world? If you’re considering moving your writing from just a hobby to something that could be more, then it’s time to really consider what that means.
1. Sharing is Caring… But It’s Also Scary
For many of us, our writings are like hidden treasures, kept safe in the recesses of our notebooks or computer folders. They’re our confidantes, bearing witness to our wildest dreams and deepest fears. Letting others glimpse this world is daunting.
But we don’t have to go from just-for-us straight to entering the world of publication and readers who are total strangers. Think of it as expanding your circle of trust–slowly, in concentric circles, so to speak. Begin with someone close, perhaps a friend who shares your love for words. Reach out to authors or, if you don’t know any yet, join some writers groups and associations. Start to get a feel for what writing is when it’s not just you and your paper or computer screen.
Honestly, this will likely be a process. You’ll get feedback…and it’s rarely all sunshine and roses. Most of us have a lot to learn when we take that step from “just for me” to “for others too.” But as their feedback teaches and encourages you, slowly, you’ll find that your courage grows along with your writing skills. Pretty soon, you’ll likely be eager to reach a wider circle. You’ll find the people who need your words. And once you’ve identified those, the best thing in the world will be giving those words to them, inviting them into your world…and that world, in turn, will become a much bigger place.
2. Protective Instincts: Navigating the Possessiveness of Your Work
Your writing is your baby. You’ve nurtured it, watched it grow, and defended it from any perceived threat. But as with any child, there comes a time to let go.
For a lot of us, this is HARD. Those first critiques often feel like an attack on us, not just our words. But you are so much more than your words! And we ALL have room to grow, especially at the start. Work on getting yourself into a mind-space where you realize that this is just part of taking it into the world. You have to make it READY for the world, and that means able to appeal to more people than just you. Kinda like we don’t want our kids to talk baby-talk forever, right? They need to learn proper pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
The same is true of our writing. We have to take those steps to strengthen and grow it. Remember, critique partners and editors aren’t looking to rip your work apart. They want to refine it, help it find its strongest voice. It’s a dance, really, between preservation and transformation. Trust this process. As your story evolves through these collaborations, you’ll witness it become the best version of itself.
3. The Balance: Writing for You vs. Writing for Them
Let’s look at it another way.
Imagine your writing as a conversation. So far, it’s been a personal monologue, introspective and intimate. But now, you’re inviting others into it…and it becomes a dialogue. It’s no longer just about what you want to say but also about what they want to hear.
In a lot of ways, this new dialogue is a lot like music–playing it (writing it) is only half the art; the other is the audience. Their participation is a key component. That doesn’t mean that your voice will or should be any less your voice than it ever was–but it certainly means that you need to learn to project it to the far corners of the auditorium, to strengthen it so you can sing out strong for a long time, and that you learn to deliver what those listeners want and need. It’s about striking a harmony between your genuine voice and the melody your audience craves. Engage with readers, be receptive to their feedback, and let it guide you in creating stories that are both deeply personal and universally resonant.
4. Facing the Reality: Is Your Writing Just For You?
Some writings are like personal diary entries, reflections of moments that might hold immense significance for you but may not translate universally. And that’s okay. Not every piece needs an audience. Some stories are meant solely for our own hearts. Discerning between what to share and what to hold close is a skill. Seek clarity by asking: “What is this story really for? Is it just my own personal catharsis…or would it resonate with others and enrich their lives too?”
5. Overcoming the Ownership Dilemma: Your Work, Their Experience
Imagine releasing a paper lantern into the night sky. Its trajectory, once it leaves your hand, is beyond your control.
Your words, once shared, belong as much to the reader as they do to you.
Each reader’s life, experiences, and emotions will shape their understanding of your narrative. It’s an evolving tapestry of interpretation. Cherish this. There’s a unique beauty in knowing that your words are spawning diverse stories in countless minds.
More, there’s beauty in that very unknown, in seeing the starfield of lanterns you and other writers release with your words. They’ll become part of a greater tapestry. And while it may be hard when you see reviews or critique, remember these wise words of Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) in Big Magic: “Their opinion on your work is none of your business.” She reminds us that our job is to produce the best thing we can…and then to let it go. It then becomes as much theirs as ours. And that’s just as it should be.
The journey from a hobbyist writer to someone who is ready to release their work into the world is filled with growth, introspection, and beautiful revelations. It’s about stretching boundaries, building bridges, and nurturing connections. As you embark on this path, always hold on to the passion that ignited your love for writing. It’s this flame that will light your way and be that very lantern you release into the sky, ensuring your words find their rightful place in the hearts of readers everywhere.
If you’re a hobbyist writer looking to spread your wings,
you may find these classes useful!
Your writing journey is going to have twists and turns, bumps and potholes, mountaintops and valleys. And a lot of those, you can’t control. What you CAN control is who you choose to be on the journey–how you react to everything that happens. And the best time to think about YOUR adventure is now!
If you want to write deep things that resonate with readers, it doesn’t actually start when you put your fingers to your keyboard. It starts every time you pick up a book. It starts with the way you look at your own life. It starts with your own self-awareness and decision to SEE deeply. Only then can you share it with others.
The writing industry today is full of opportunities and choices…and that means it can be confusing to someone just starting out on the road to publication. Which option is right for you? Big traditional house? Small press? Vanity/cooperative press? Self-publishing? We’ll demystify the options so you can consider them well.