Do Not Fear the Reader

I met with a young writer a few months ago and he shared an extremely common issue with a lot of young writers. For months he had been almost sick every single time he turned in an essay or story to his professors. After class he would sit in his dorm or walk around campus in a ball of nerves. He told me that his college email would be up on his phone and he would refresh it every few moments. Just in case his professor had something to say about his poem. In fact, the fear of someone else seeing his work was weighing so heavily on him that it had begun to sneak in on his actual writing.

Writing is personal. It doesn’t matter if you have been writing for years or just a few months. Showing someone else your writing is like sharing a little piece of your heart and mind. You worry they won’t understand the meaning behind your words. You worry maybe they’ll laugh at your work. You worry it won’t live up to your expectations and you won’t get an acceptable reaction. All of these worries are founded. For people to read your writing takes a large amount of courage. When you enter college and have to write for people on a daily basis, the fear eventually melts away. It will for him as it will for other people.

More often than not I found myself having the same concerns when I first entered college. I worried my professors would find my work terrible. I imagined meeting with my advisor and him suggesting I find another major. The worst of the worst, right? Eventually that fear faded. I shifted from scared to show off my work to gladly handing it in and anticipating a response from the people who knew writing best.

At the end of the day you have to be confident to be a writer. It’s scary showing off such a personal thing, but don’t let that fear take you over. If you are determined to be a writer then you’ll learn to manage it. Be confident, be bold, and trust your words.

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