Putting your work out to scrutiny can be a daunting experience. Believe me I know. Part of me doesn’t want to show my writing to anyone in case they think it’s rubbish but my more rational side knows that writing stuff just to hide it away on the computer is pointless (unless you really are writing for yourself alone which is fine). It’s like training to be an actor but refusing to come out of the dressing room in case you get a bad review.
Joining a writing group can be a good first step. It’s the rehearsal room, not the first night. It’s the place where you read aloud the story that you’ve been struggling with for weeks. The one you know isn’t quite working but you’re not quite sure why. The one that’ll end up in the bottom drawer like all the others if you don’t do something about it soon.
Praise is lovely, we all need it and there’s always something amongst the muddle of words worthy of encouragement but it’s the well considered criticism of the other members that moves your writing to the next level. It helps too to listen to other people’s work, to think about what’s good and what’s not so good about their writing and above all to comment. You’ll soon find yourself thinking, yes, I do that. I tell don’t show, get the point of view wrong, confuse my tenses and a dozen other literary sins.
But mostly you’ll be thinking, perhaps I’m not so bad after all.