When I first started writing, I was afraid to show my work to anyone. What if they thought it stunk like a spawned out salmon? Or was about as interesting as standardized testing?
Other than a few close friends (read: my mother and my boyfriend), I didn’t want to show my work to anyone.
But, I also didn’t want to stay underground forever. I wanted to be published someday. Enter the safety of anonymity. It is easier to get feedback from someone you don’t know. If you don’t like what they have to say, you can press the delete button and pretend John from Tulsa doesn’t exist.
Find a method to be accountable
I’ve followed Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits for years. Leo would tell you in order to create a new habit you need to find a way to be publically accountable. I joined The Completion Club. It did seem slightly ironic that I was joining a club for people wishing to complete their writing projects when I was just at the beginning. But, I’ve always been an optimist. Why not start writing a book with the goal of finishing? Each week I posted my writing goals, and challenges with a group of strangers. In the two years since we’ve gone from strangers to comrades. My critique partner told me my story was worth telling. We’ve seen group members through family illnesses and deaths, moves, and yes, even publication. We’ve even seen the group’s founder, Jacqui Lofhouse, choose to change careers. Week by week my confidence improved and I made writing a habit.
Get Feedback on Your Writing
The second resource I used when I was first starting out was Scribophile. Scribophile is an online critiquing group. The more you critique others works the more frequently they will critique your own. This was especially helpful when writing about Alaska and the more technical aspects of flying. Free Falconer from Australia was able to tell me where he got lost. My writing improved.
Connect with Other Writers
I enjoy reading blogs. The connections I have made online have led to other connections and those to other connections. My community is building. Here are a few of my favorites:
Jeff Goins is the perfect example of giving up waiting until someday and calling himself a writer today. He could be a Big State, Big Life success story. Shelli Johnson is a master at promoting herself in a way that is friendly and real. Jane Friedman gives great tips on using social media. Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, shares insights as he writes and promotes his own books.
Big State, Big Life is about living a life we want today instead of waiting for someday. It is about taking action. For me that is getting my book published. For you it might be something completely different.