Welcome to Micro Monday, where you get a quote and a writing prompt every Monday to help you build a portfolio of work. This week: sharing your writing with others.

Quote of the Week: “Surround yourself with people who respect and treat you well.” Claudia Black

Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about a time someone said yes. 

If you’re new to micro and writing with me, check out this post here. If you’d like to read some micro-narratives, Sarah Manguso’s 300 Arguments: Essays, is a great place to start.

Fear of Sharing Your Writing

I’d like to lead off with a question: are you writing? A journal? A letter to an old friend? Something for work? A poem? A novel?

Whatever you might be working on, I’d like to talk a bit about sharing your work in progress. Sharing writing can be tricky for writers because we want people to love what we’ve written. And sometimes they do, but sometimes they don’t. Negative feedback can send us on a downward spiral, and we may worry that we have no talent at all (some of us writers are a bit on the neurotic side).

Set Expectations

Here’s the thing.

If you choose to share your work with someone, you have to be clear as to why you’re sharing it and why you’re sharing it with them (instead of someone else). What are you expecting in return? If you want feedback, tell them what kind of feedback you’re looking for.

Positive feedback is when they tell you what they like about the piece. That’s it. Nice things only, please.

Helpful feedback or critique is when they get specific about what works and what doesn’t. Some people love to look for problems and can go a little nuts here. Tread carefully when asking for this kind of feedback and make sure you’re asking someone who knows how to give effective constructive criticism.

Share your work wisely, and with people who respect what you’re doing. – Darien Gee Click To Tweet

Choose Readers Wisely

Share your work wisely, and with people who respect what you’re doing. If you’re looking for a pat on the back, don’t wait for someone to do that for you. We all like to get confirmation that we’re on the right track, but don’t spend too much time looking outside of yourself for assurances. Give yourself a pat on the back, and then get back to writing.

If your story is finished and ready to be shared, do it but without expectation. And if someone is negative or unhelpful or cruel, don’t share your work with them again. Find readers who are respectful and thoughtful. You only need two or three.

If you have the opportunity to read your work aloud (or have someone else read your work for you aloud), do it. You’ll hear what works and what doesn’t. Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto, reads all of her novels to a friend once they’re finished. I use the automated voice on my computer to read passages and whole chapters. There are lots of ways to do this, but the bottom line is to write and share your work in progress thoughtfully. Choose your readers well and be specific as to what you need from them—don’t be open-ended about it.  

Looking to connect with other writers? Check out Writer’s Digest‘s “Best Writing Community Websites.” If you’d like some personalized guidance, schedule a consult with me.

If you’ve written some micro you’re proud of, share it in the comments below. Until next time, write well!

This post originally appeared in Darien’s column, The Writer’s Corner, in North Hawaii News, and has been gently modified for writer-ish.com.

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