When you share your art with the world, you’re sharing a little piece of your innermost self. It takes a lot of confidence to do that.
Some of us don’t need to share our art.
But most of us want more - that connection that comes with sharing.
These conflicting instincts are something I’ve wrestled with a lot. It was a struggle for me when I started my blog, and again when I launched wordhaus, (which is still in progress). I struggle with it every time I share some of my manuscript, too. And I work in marketing, where sharing my creativity is my job. And when your job depends on it, you figure out pretty quickly you’ve gotta get over it.
So did I magically snap out of it and suddenly become super confident? No … but I learned how to fake it. Here’s my foolproof way to stop letting a lack of confidence hold you back and fake it:
Imagine likely scenarios in which you share or pitch your work to others. Prepare a short elevator pitch—a 30-second description of the project—and memorize it. Practice running through the conversations in your head. I even write them out. When it comes time to really talk about your work, you’ll be cool and collected–after all, you’ve already done it dozens of times.
Test in friendly waters.
My first reader for my fiction is generally my sister. She’s no writer, but she reads enough to know if my work is decent and give some feedback. It’s a funny thing, but every time I get my work back from someone and that person isn’t screaming “THIS IS AWFUL!” (which never, ever happens), I feel that much better about sharing it with someone else. Some (kind) criticism has made my work stronger and even made me more excited about it.
Separate from your work.
When I first started planning to promote wordhaus, my mind came up blank. I just couldn’t get past how intimidated I was to share my work publicly. Get a grip, I thought, you work in PR. If anyone should be able to promote a project, it’s you. Once it occurred to me to treat my project the same as I would a client’s, the pieces quickly came together. For some reason, it’s much easier when it’s not for you. So think: what would you recommend to a client or friend in your situation?
Make a plan.
Even knowing what the right moves were to promote wordhaus, I put off taking action for a few months, because I was still just too nervous. But I’d put too much into the project to let a lack of confidence defeat me. So I wrote out all the tactics I’d considered and pulled them together into a plan, with one small baby step to execute on each day. After that, it was simply a matter of following it. I’d removed the thinking from the equation now, so there was no reflecting on whether anyone would care about my new zine. I just followed the steps.
The more you get out there, the easier it gets. I’ve been amazed at the positivity and support out there for my projects. From encouraging words from coworkers who have read my blog, to writers excited to have a new forum to share short stories, the payback for pushing your work out in public is a fantastic incentive to keep it up.
Just like getting regular exercise or learning a new language, the more you do it, the better you get at it. In fact, over time, you may find that it’s really not so difficult to share your work anymore. You may find that faking confidence has in itself made you more confident.
What about you?
Does sharing your work come easy or do you have to fake confidence at times? What suggestions would you add to Emily’s list?