"Should I Share My Writing?" Part One: Not Yet

"Should I let people read my writing?"
This is a question I have seen and received many times by many different writers at many different stages of the writing process. And while it's definitely an important question to answer, there are a lot of ways to answer it. So instead of trying to encompass everything in one post, I'm going to be splitting the answers to this question up into three parts: Not Yet, Maybe, and Go for It.

You should not share your writing yet if . . .

1. It's the very first draft/not complete
The first draft is meant to be a messy, imperfect, scrounged-up first attempt at the story you want to write. Even if you think your first draft is amazing and perfect and flawless (heads up, it's not) I suggest not letting people read it.
Allowing people to read your writing is a big deal--it brings them into the story world you've created, and it makes the ideas you have real; these characters are not just in your head anymore--they're in the readers' heads, too.
When I finished my first draft of Unperfected, I let a lot of people read it. They liked it, but because they liked it I felt like I couldn't make changes to the things that they liked. And that caused a lot of issues down the road!
Keeping your first draft to yourself secures a sense of freedom for later drafts. You can change anything you want, remove characters, add characters, etc without anyone there to say "Aw, but I liked that character!" or "No, don't change that!" And believe me--that freedom is much more important than you think.

2. You feel insecure about your writing
Some writers feel that they should want others to read their work, or that letting others read their work is a necessary step they should take ASAP. This is not true! If you feel insecure in your writing, DO NOT let others read it. You 100% do not have to--no matter what anyone else says. You writing is yours, and you can do what you want with it.
When I was in high school, my teacher would require us to read everything we wrote out loud. This was beyond stressful because 1. I have anxiety and 2. I was not secure in the things I had written.
When I got to college, my creative writing professor looked at sharing your work as an opportunity rather than a requirement, and it was amazing. I wanted to share my work at times because I was secure in it and liked it. And if I didn't, I wouldn't share.
Try looking at your own writing in the same light. Rather than feeling required to share with others, look at it as an opportunity--then take that opportunity on your own time.

3. You are being pressured/people are begging to read it
I used to keep notebook with me in high school that I would use specifically for writing random scenes and chapters. And I can't even tell you how many times my friends would beg to read it. Sometimes they would even try to steal it just to get a glimpse! While doing that was a compliment to me (because they clearly really liked my writing and thought it was good) it was incredibly stressful, and I often felt bad telling them no.
Don't! It's okay to tell the beggars no! As I mentioned above, you need to feel secure in your writing before you share it with others. A lot of the time, friends and family don't full understand how stressful it can be to let them read your work. So when people try to pressure and beg you, explain that you aren't ready for your words to be seen yet. Be calm yet firm, and don't give in. If you stand your ground, they will respect you and back off.

If you found yourself relating to some of the things I said above, then it is completely okay for you to say "not yet" to sharing your work. Sharing is a scary, exciting, and important decision and you should never feel bad for saying no. You'll be ready to let others read your writing soon!
In fact, check back next Tuesday for the next part of this series to learn when you might be ready!