Dare to Share

One of the critical steps you can take as a writer is to find ways to share your work with others. Those others might be writers, they might be friends, or they might be family members. Don’t let your hard work sit in a drawer unread. Writing is meant to be read. We write down words hoping someone will find them interesting. When you first start writing, you must take the lead in asking people to read what you have written.

Try this: Select a two- or three-page section of your writing. Sit in front of a mirror, and read the section aloud to yourself. Don’t stop to edit or make any other marks on the paper. Just read the section. No matter how good or bad you think it is, just read it as if you think it’s great.

Now choose someone in your life whom you trust. This might be your spouse or partner, a parent or other relative, or a friend. Ask this person to read your selection without saying a word. Inform them that you don’t want any feedback, that you just want him or her to read the selection and then say, “Nice work.” Sit or stand nearby while he or she reads (you don’t have to watch). After your reader says, “Nice work,” respond with, “Thank you.” Take the papers back and change the topic of conversation. Don’t ask what the reader liked or didn’t like. Don’t even let the reader point out typographical errors. Just say, “Thank you.”

Do this several times with different people or different pieces or writing. While feedback can be important to a writer, it is not necessary yet to you as a novice writer. More important is to develop the courage to share your work.

Once you can stand there and endure in silence while someone reads your work, you may be ready to ask yourself, “What do I need now by way of response from my readers to help me grow as a writer?”

The answer may be some questions about the characters in your story, or it may be quetions about why this story is important to you. Or, it may even be time for a serious critique of the writing itself. Whatever you choose next, always let it be a choice for growth.

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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2 Responses to Dare to Share

  1. cmadsen says:

    Denis, this is such good advice. The first few times you share your work are so hard, and then you start to look forward to the feedback. Firemen show their work every day; so do teachers, and administrative assistants and shoe salesmen and gardeners and computer programmers. Isn’t our work worthy of being shown?

    • Denis Ledoux says:

      It does take courage, doesn’t it, to share writing? I get a group of friends together regularly and we share writing (and visual art). I always have a moment when I ask myself if my piece its ready. Inevitably, if a part of a memoir is not finished, it will stand out–and for that I must be grateful. Then, back to the computer to re-write.

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