The answer may surprise you.
All writers write junk at some point. Those of us who are beginners will probably write more crap than the more seasoned writers. Obviously, because practice makes progress. (Not perfection.)
If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. -Margaret Atwood
But what about sharing our less-than-stellar pieces of prose or poetry? Do we keep it to ourselves, in a private little virtual folder on our laptop or inside a locked journal? Or do we share with a select few, some trusted friends and family?
Or, do we throw caution to the wind, and — after we feel we’ve done our best — go ahead and publish what we may feel is not our top work?
While there are pros and cons to exposing our perceived sub-standard creations, I think that, especially as beginners, it’s important to share our crappy writing because of the following reasons:
It will help you ditch the fear.
The first time I hit the publish button both here and on my blog, my body physically reacted. My heart raced, hives-like itching covered my body, and I became light-headed and dizzy. You would have thought my poor introverted self was getting ready to give a public speech to a crowd of thousands of people.
And I suppose in a way, I was. (But of course, just starting out, my audience was tremendously smaller.) It’s terrifying putting your creative self out there for the world to judge and criticize.
I hit the Publish. Guess what happened then? Nothing. No one laughed at my writing (to my face anyway). I didn’t have a mental breakdown. And the world kept spinning on its axis.
So I wrote again. And I hit Publish again. And I had the same symptoms, but to a lesser degree this time. And each following time, the fear lessened, and now I’m pretty good about not passing out cold.
It will build your confidence.
When you realize the world isn’t going to explode every time you share your writing, you become a little more confident that it will stay whole the next time you do it too.
The more you write, whether on Medium, your blog, or other public platform, the more people will see your work. And the more views you get, the more feedback you’ll receive. Most of it will be positive feedback. (Ignore the haters.) You can take that positive feedback and use it to build your confidence. As your confidence increases, the more you’ll be able to write and the more comfortable you’ll become in sharing more of your writing. A pretty nice cycle, right?
You’ll figure out what works (and what doesn’t).
This may be the most important reason. If you’re writing for an audience, you’ll quickly figure out what topics appeal to your readers. Write more about those. You’ll also find out which topics your readers couldn’t care less about. Write about those less.
(If you’re writing for yourself though, write about whatever you want. You are perfectly allowed publicly share and publish pieces that you’re creating for yourself if you choose.)
Furthermore, it can help you find and develop your writing voice. When I first started writing, it was in a way that didn’t really reflect the way I thought and spoke. And it felt forced. I thought it sounded good, but my readers could tell that it wasn’t me.
You’ll figure out your voice the more you write. You’ll realize it doesn’t work to force it. I’ve found that it’s generally better to write how you speak, then go back during editing and correct spelling and grammar errors.
Of course, there are valid arguments against publicly sharing our crap writing. You’ll screw some stuff up. We all do it.
And once your writing is out there, it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will stay out there. But on sites like Medium and a blog, there’s that all-important Edit button. It wouldn’t be there if it were never meant to be used.
And I think the pros of sharing your weaker creations outweigh the cons. Losing the fear of writing, finding your voice, and building your confidence are the best advantages.
Just remember to apply that Edit button as needed.