I think all writers want to achieve the nirvana of seeing their work in print. Most aspiring writers don’t have a problem sharing their work, even if it means getting harsh feedback. There is, however, a large number of student writers who are afraid to submit.
Submitting might not be the only thing that sets your nerves on edge. The thought of getting your work critiqued might make you shudder a bit. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. I still remember my first critique. In 8th grade I wrote up a story and gave it to a friend. After lunch she handed it back, and when I asked her what she thought she wrinkled her nose and said, “I don’t know. It was weird. I marked some stuff I think you should change”.
The excitement I’d had while writing it and joy I felt upon its completion melted into a puddle of embarrassment. No one read any of my work for a few years after that. The fear of being judged often overpowers us. We become stuck in a world of ‘what if’s’.
It’s not just being afraid of what others think of you. The fear of not being good enough can be so heavy it’s nearly crushing. Even now, after I’ve grown a thick skin and gained a bit of confidence, when I don’t get the reaction I was expecting from my writers circle I automatically think it’s because I’m not that great of a writer. These are superficial fears that every writers has. Even the most experienced authors have these doubts. However, I’m going to give you a few reasons why you should crawl out of your shell like I did and submit your work.
- Submissions grow you as a writer. Since I started submitting my short stories to contests, and my novel to agents, I’ve been rejected more times than I have fingers to count. Being rejected doesn’t make me feel bad like it did when I first started. I take it as a helpful reminder that I’m still growing as a writer. There are methods I’ve yet to try, awkward phrases I’m still holding on to, and characters that still need more development. When I do get a piece accepted, I go through it and highlight all the parts where I feel my writing is at its strongest. Those are things that I can incorporate into other stories.
- You gain confidence in your work. If you don’t believe in what you’re writing, you can’t expect your reader to. I started out small, submitting to journals at the university. When I got accepted, got a copy of the journal, and saw the title of my story and my name in print, I actually felt like an author. If it happened once there’s no doubt I could do it again.
- We want to hear what you have to say! In the writing community we believe that all forms of art should be expressed. You have a voice so don’t conceal it in a flash drive or in a notebook. For me, even if I don’t feel like what I have to say is important, there’s always someone out there who might feel otherwise. As a writer, having someone say they were motivated or inspired by something I wrote is the best pay off.
So here’s my challenge to you, start here! OAR (Oakland Arts Review) is currently accepting submissions, and we love reading your work. Not too long ago, one of my professors introduced me to Emerging Writers Network (www.emergingwriters.typepad.com) they have a dozens of magazines and journals to submit to, as well. Even if you don’t get published, at least you stepped outside of your comfort zone and tried something new. Writing is a form of art, and as artists we have a great opportunity to share our art and maybe touch a few lives along the way.