“It’s okay to have questions. Just don’t let fear give you your answers. If it is on your heart to share your work, I hope you find the courage to take that step. It’ll be the beginning of an incredible journey.”
Vulnerability is at the core of sharing your poetry with a wider audience. It can be scary. It can be uncomfortable, and sometimes it can even bring about comments, critiques, and rejections. It may leave you wondering: is it worth it?
Here are some questions you might toil with when considering whether to share your work or not.
“What if I post it and no one reads it or likes it?”
This is a common fear for new and experienced writers. We are always concerned about putting our work out there, but what if the reception isn’t a reception at all, but rather crickets?
My first tip would be to not take this too personally. There are many reasons that a piece won’t get much in terms of engagement or comments. Sometimes, it can even vary depending on the time of day you post on a social network. Other times, it may just take a while for it to show up on someone’s timeline.
My second tip: make sure you’re sharing your work with the right mindset. Share your work because you want to—because you have stories you want to tell and words that you hope others can relate to. Share your work because you believe in it. Try not to get too caught up in how many likes it gets or if people are reposting it. That is a sure way to replace the joy of sharing a piece with the anxiety of how it’s being received or if it’s being liked enough.
“What if someone rejects me?”
Let’s say you are getting ready to submit a piece you’d like published in a journal or through a publisher. Let’s also say that they passed on the piece. I know how hard that can be. Yes, it’s going to be disappointing. It’s going to hurt and make you second guess yourself. But it’s also going to help you grow. If you were offered constructive criticism, you can take that into account moving forward. If you weren’t given any direction, you can find comfort in knowing that virtually every writer’s journey is paved with rejections.
Rejections aren’t saying that you’re not good enough, they are simply saying that you might not be a fit for a specific publication at a specific time. Use rejection as fuel to continue to grow as a writer. Continue to work on your voice. Continue to submit your work to different publications. Keep on going.
“I’m not a professional writer. What makes me think I can be in this space?”
I included this question because I’ve had this internal conflict as well. We all feel under-qualified from time to time. It can also be overwhelming to compare ourselves to writers that we admire, making the idea of sharing our poetry feel more daunting than daring.
But your voice matters. You don’t have to have a huge following. You don’t have to be published or have specialized training to be taken seriously. All you need is a sincere heart and a genuine story to share. There are no prerequisites for being a good poet other than passion and the willingness to spill the ink of your soul into your writing.
Don’t be scared and don’t get lost in comparing yourself to other writers. Just be YOU and write something you can be proud of. When you stay true to your own style, you’ll find that loyal readers will find you. A handful of readers can turn into a handful more as you commit to sharing your words consistently and genuinely.
The poetry community is a unique and wonderful group of readers and writers, and you are always welcome to be part of it. You may always feel vulnerable putting yourself and your work out there, but you will also be rewarded with growth.
We all have moments of doubt and fear before we press that “post” button; the fear can sometimes drown out the other emotions that come with sharing your work. Keep in mind the potential excitement when a reader connects with what you have to say, the joy of knowing you made a brave leap, and the passion that drives you to continue to step into vulnerability, time and time again.
It’s okay to have questions. Just don’t let fear give you your answers. If it is on your heart to share your work, I hope you find the courage to take that step. It’ll be the beginning of an incredible journey.