Getting Over the Fear of Sharing Your Writing with Others by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In Writers
Feb 19th, 2013

fearSharing writing with others is scary.  Admit it.  It is.  We worry that we will be judged.  We will!  And, of course, this is the idea.  If you want to just write in a diary and never share it with anyone else, then stop reading this article now.  If, however, you are a writer who is writing for publication, then it’s time to implement one or more of these tips so you can get the feedback you need and get your writing out for others to learn from, enjoy, or any of the other possible responses you may be looking for.

  1. Be part of a writers group.  There is no special size for one of these groups, but either find a writers group in your community or start one.

  2. Set parameters on what you are looking for when you give your work to someone for feedback.  Tell the person you want him/her to read for flow, opening, characterization, next steps, or whatever else you might find useful.  Pick ONE area for the other person to focus on.  It helps the reader, it helps you, and it serves your writing.

  3. Ask for 3:1 ratio (or 35:1) “good” vs. “needs work.”  If part of what you fear is someone telling you that what you’ve written is terrible, ask him/her to give you three aspects that are well done for every aspect that is not so well done (i.e., needs work or is terrible).  Lay out the ratio you want.

  4. Ask someone who is in awe of you.  If you are fearful about what someone will say about your writing, ask others who thinks you are a god or goddess.  They will give you lots of positive feedback because they are in awe of you.  This is a step toward the next tip.

  5. Ask someone you are in awe of.  If the person says, “Yes,” and gives you feedback, you will benefit both from the feedback and from knowing you were brave enough to ask (as well as from the person’s acknowledgement of you, i.e., a willingness to take the time to read and respond to your writing).

  6. Trade papers.  You remember hearing that phrase in school, don’t you?  “Alright children, trade papers.”  You knew you were going to be grading or reading someone else’s paper and that child would be reading and grading yours.  Find a partner who is also writing and see if she/he would be willing to trade papers with you.

  7. Hire someone to read your writing (so then when they do and give you feedback, they are just doing their job).  You can find people locally, nationally, or internationally who makes a living reading, editing, revising, and responding to others’ writing.  If you are PAYING the person for feedback, then you will get feedback and that’s what you want.  A paid editor is dispassionate about the writing – and about you.  You will get the kind of suggestions and tips that will help you improve and there are no interpersonal issues mixed in.

  8. Have a trusted person to share with (i.e., who you know will still think you’re wonderful even if your writing stinks).  Think of a friend, a special colleague, or someone from graduate school who thinks you are just the “bees knees,” as one of my former colleagues would say.  This is a person who, whether you write well or not (or whether you write at all) still thinks you are fabulous.  Ask this person to read and respond to your writing – honestly.

  9. Have someone read your writing who has a vested interest in whether you succeed.  It could be a business partner, an advisor in graduate school, your boss, or a family member.  Choose someone who wants you to succeed and it will have an impact on him/her if you do (or not).  Folks like this will strive to give you the most helpful feedback possible because it matters to them if you get your work published or not.

  10. Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen?  I am here to tell you that I’m living proof that you can get negative feedback on a piece of writing and survive to tell about it (and write about it).  You won’t die from negative feedback.

So, if you have been reluctant to receive input on your writing, choose at least one of these ideas to put into practice this week.  And then choose another and then another in the upcoming weeks.

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity®). One of the ways that you can learn from Meggin about productive writing is through her 30 Articles in Just 30 Days program ( 

postponingDo you know any writers who procrastinate? Could that writer actually be you? We writers know perfectly well that we procrastinate, sometimes in very clever ways. In need of tips to help you stop? You’ll want the Get a Plan! Guide® to Postponing Writing Procrastination, part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series.

Inside, you’ll find 15 practices to postpone your writing procrastination. You’ll receive the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion.