In a previous blog post, I talked about my tendency to hoard my ideas.
I have a similar tendency with pieces of writing that I have developed to a stage where they have some potential.
Just last week, I had been working on a poem that I thought was promising. I revised it and got it into reasonably good shape, but I never felt like it was at that stage where I could consider it finished and submit it. The ending felt slightly off, and I wasn’t satisfied with the rhythm. It was so close to completion—but I couldn’t let it go. So I abandoned it and moved onto another project.
When I stumbled on the poem the other night, I realized I might never feel 100% happy with it. So, instead of closing the file and saying I would deal with it another time, I committed to finishing it and submitting it by the end of the night. I gave myself until 10:00pm before I had to “give it away” and submit it to a journal.
It worked. And it gave me the motivation to solve the niggling problem that I couldn’t quite fix before. After playing with the form for an hour, I was inspired to turn it into a flash-fiction story. It was an “a-ha!” moment that gave me the push to finish it and send it out on submission.
Will it be accepted? Maybe. But in the meantime, I can move on to my next project, satisfied that I had finished something, and that I had done what I could.
What’s preventing you from sending your writing out into the world?
- Fear of rejection. “If I never submit it, I’ll never be told no.“
- Fear of not being perfect. “If I never submit it, I’ll never be told that my writing is not good enough.“
- Fear of running out of ideas. “If I never submit it, I’ll always have this idea to fall back on.“
We writers must learn to let go of these fears. I’m not saying it’s easy, but we can’t allow these thoughts to keep us from finishing our work and sharing it with potential readers. Giving your writing away is a habit that can be picked up over time. And you might even find it energizing. My own experience with calling something “done” and submitting it has given me the motivation to do it again, with another almost-finished piece.
This same intent—of not keeping your writing to yourself—is expressed in a quote by Bill Moyers I found a few days ago:
You must never think that your most recent idea is your best or your last. You must be willing to keep searching your imagination and intuition for new versions of that idea.
Be generous with your writing. Don’t keep it to yourself. Finish it, and give it away.