When someone reads something that you have written they have access to a part of your innermost self. This is less true for a quick email sent to confirm an appointment as opposed to an essay on the love of your life, of course, as certain topics or types of writing are more personal than others. There is, however, an amount of personal exposure that accompanies anything that is written and read by another, and overcoming writing shyness is an essential part of improving as a writer.
As with any obstacle, understanding writing shyness is the first step in conquering it. Perhaps you are nervous that your ability will be judged as substandard, or you are wary of revealing your position on an issue. These are two separate considerations, but they are both addressed in the first tip:
1. Know your audience
This entails analyzing the forum and context that will surround what you have written, your level of anonymity (if any) and the degree of personal information that you will disclose. Writing a comment on an article will likely not attract as much attention to your technical writing skills from your readers, and you might even be posting under a pseudonym. So, if this is true, you have less to worry about with regard to stating your opinion on the topic compared with posting a comment on Facebook, where it will be linked to your name and all of your contacts will be much more likely to read it. Understanding the differences between where and what you are writing and who will know you have written it is the place to start to increase your confidence in having others read your work.
Having acquired a grasp of where, what and how you feel comfortable writing, consider the next tip:
2. Write as much as you can
Even if you are just writing comments on other people’s writing, the experience of exposing yourself will make it easier to have other people read what you have written. Joining groups for authors is another outlet to display your efforts.
It is more than likely that along the way someone will comment on what you have written.
Thus, you must keep in mind:
3. Take it with a grain of salt
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. There are those who will find fault with anything. If someone is critical of you, look for anything constructive and move on.
As well, remember that writing is its own reward. Not everyone will find themselves a famous bestselling author:
4. Enjoy the ride
Writing is its own reward, and brings benefits that cannot be found elsewhere. Receiving feedback, even when it is critical, is secondary to the positive effects that writing brings.
That being said, do not hesitate to continue to hone your craft. Put some effort into it:
5. Fight the good fight
Keep getting better. Use the resources that are readily available to improve your vocabulary, structure and tone. You can avail yourself of people who are willing to assist you in improving yourself with constructive criticism. Learn new words and ways to express yourself and you will be more confident and willing to have others see your efforts.
A common bit of advice for those who must speak in front of a group is to imagine your audience listening in their underwear. This renders them less threatening, and is meant to impart confidence for the speaker.
A similar approach can help a writer with their shyness:
6. Imagine your readers at their weakest
Turn your anxiety into strength. YOU are the one who is brave enough to put yourself out there for everyone to see. You must embrace this, and know that those who might criticize you are more than likely not exposing themselves to similar criticism.
Remember: “Those who can, do; those who cannot, criticize”. Examine those who attack you, if any do, and see if they are willing to give their names or if they are hiding in the internet and throwing stones. Why should you worry about some anonymous keyboard warrior?
Finally, make the decision to write and not be afraid of whatever may result.
7. Write without worry
So what if someone disagrees with you or thinks that you are a bad writer? Writing more will bring improvement and greater confidence. Being criticized will bring greater tolerance. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
In conclusion, I ask you to consider the words of John Quincy Adams, American statesman, diplomat and sixth President of the United States:
“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
Bailey Belmont is a professional writer, blogger and learning geek. She is here to share her thoughts and ideas on how to use writing to expand our personal and professional frontiers. Keep updated with Bailey via Facebook or check her Professional Blog.