Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable. Expose yourself to criticism. Brave words from someone that hid herself for forty plus years. I stopped writing, drawing, and creating for my entire married life. It was something that I put on a shelf with my childhood fancies. Not something I could earn money with, and less important than my outside job, raising my kids, my husband, etc.
Once I excised the spouse from my life, I found that writing helped to organize the chaos I was feeling inside. First it was rambling journals trying to process the trauma of narcissistic abuse. Then stories began to flow. The first year was an overwhelming deluge of creativity. Luckily it was during the pandemic quarantine of 2020, so I could bounce from writing to painting to reading.
Just prior to the shutdown, I had joined the Adult Authors Group at my library. I dragged my mom along and submitted short stories and excerpts from planned novels. The feedback was positive. I joined Deadlines for Writers, which provides a monthly short story prompt and community feedback. I wasn’t writing regularly, but I was writing and people, real people, were reading it.
I tried to earn money for my writing. I wrote articles through iWriter. I submitted to magazines, contests, anthologies- anything I could find. I didn’t win or get published, but I put myself out there. I welcomed criticism and I didn’t die. No one bullied me, or punished me or hurt my feelings (much). And I learned. I learned that not all critiques are valid, but many are. Hearing how others understood your story lets you know how clear your writing is. A well worded critique can help you identify weaknesses in your writing. And not winning a contest doesn’t really hurt.
So, expose yourself. Let someone critique your work. Be open to criticism. Learn not to take it personally.
Starting in September 2021, WWWAD will have a section dedicated to critiques. It will be a community effort, and to be critiqued, you will have to critique others. Stay tuned for details.