Everyone has some form of downtime to partake in. I know people who play the flute, read, paint, draw, illustrate, dance, and sing. However, the form of downtime my friends and I share is one special activity: writing.
I suppose I should expect to have a bunch of writer friends; I edit for all of my school’s publications, and a lot of young people thoroughly enjoy writing. I did not expect, however, to experience the reluctance some writers have for sharing their work with others.
Plenty of my friends write, though I have never read a single piece of work by them. On the other hand, I have looked over a handful of friends’ creative writing and reporting pieces. The question that is bothering me is logical: what separates the open writers from the closed?
I have decided that all of us, regardless of our extroversion as writers, face some level of writing anxiety. I fall somewhere in the middle of the open-closed spectrum: while I frequently share my writing with people, I always feel a bit nervous in doing so; I am afraid that they may critique it harshly or worse, not critique it at all. Also, some pieces are easier for me to broadcast than others. I can squelch writing anxiety to a degree.
Perhaps all writers have writing anxiety, even those of us who share words with other people. It is indisputable that we are all secretly afraid of being criticized for our opinions and viewpoints. Still, some of us share our works hoping that we will learn from other people’s comments, while others feel that outside feedback is unnecessary. This does not mean closed writers are more confident in their artistry, but they may not feel a desire to be validated by other writers on something that is so personally connected to them.
Truthfully, it is fine to not want to share your writing. For me, writing helps me reason with myself. It is something I do instinctively every day, and I often enjoy the result of the activity. If someone read literally everything I ever wrote they would probably understand my thought process to an unnatural point, which would make our situation as friends rather uncomfortable. Though we all love feedback, especially the positive and constructive kinds, writing is more than an attention trap; it is an art, and it is a form of expression. When you critique someone’s writing, you draw attention to their thought process or view of the world, and then point out its flaws. This process is painfully difficult to accept for lots of people, sensitive or not, so not exposing their worlds to people for feedback is a perfectly appropriate method of self-defensive for many writers. They are simply protecting the one thing people will never be able to fully have access to: their minds.
One final note: when people reveal that they do not want to share their writing, realize they may have writing anxiety, but don’t share your pity – respect their privacy.
Do you have trouble sharing your writing with other people?