Friday, December 19, 2014

Are You Hoarding Your Words?

by Bruce Brady @BDBrady007

We writers are a pretty insecure bunch.
We writers are a pretty insecure bunch. No matter how accomplished we may be, we always worry about what others will think of our work—especially our family and friends. In fact, I suspect there are at least a few pretty good writers out there who gave up all together because of some cutting criticism delivered by a well-meaning confidante.

The truth is our words are our babies. And we’re so proud of our offspring that as soon as they’re born we want to show them to everyone. When those closest to us are critical of what we’ve written, it hurts. Motivated by their desire to help us achieve greatness, they’re just saying, “Your baby needs a sponge-bath and diaper change.” However, what we most often hear is, “Your baby is ugly and smelly!”

Are you hoarding your words?
I believe writers are called to create stories that will benefit all who read, hear, or view them. I know that some words are written solely for cathartic purposes. But many of us also write to entertain, instruct, or encourage. To fearfully hoard these words is to deny family and friends—even our public—the benefits of our stories.

So how can we overcome our natural tendency to avoid sharing our newborns? One way is to form an intimate group of people who will provide regular, gentle critiques of our work.

What? Didn’t I just say we hide our work because of criticism? Yes, I did. Yet one of the best ways to overcome our fear of exposure is to meet it head-on. But we must do this carefully.

A good critique group has our best interests at heart.
The most important qualification for potential critique group members is that they have our best interests at heart. Ideally they’re compassionate, sensitive people who are just as concerned about  our growth as you are theirs.  Next, their skill level should be equal to or greater than our own. While mentoring is admirable, this is a group of peers created for the mutual benefit of all its members. Also, our group should be committed to frequent meetings—at least monthly, preferably weekly. Yes, we have busy lives and it’s difficult to regularly schedule three or four hours of travel and meeting time. However, with the internet and webcams, we can easily reduce that commitment to a couple of hours or less.

Through critique groups, we can learn more in a shorter period of time than from any other method. They give you the personalized attention that classes and books can’t. They consist of carefully selected writers equally interested in improving their craft and helping others grow. And the group members often develop deep, lasting friendships. They console us when we face adversities and take delight in our successes. Most important, they give us the courage to share our babies with the world.

So how do you overcome the fear of sharing your work? Remember to share your answers in the comments section so we can all benefit.


Are you hoarding your words? Our words are meant to be shared! via @BruceDBrady on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Bruce Brady is an author, writer and playwright. His work has appeared in Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family,, and on stage. Currently, Bruce is working on a Young Adult Novel about a boy who must deal with the death of his dad, being bullied, and helping his mom through her grief. His first five pages took third place in the ACFW South Carolina Chapter’s “First Five Pages” contest.

When he’s not writing, Bruce spends time learning from and helping other writers. He serves as Mentor of Word Weavers International’s Online Chapter, and as a member of Cross ‘N’ Pens, The Writer’s Plot, ACFW’s National and South Carolina Chapters.

“My dream is to entertain my readers and give them hope as they travel the rocky road of life.”


  1. Sensitivity to criticism is definitely on my list of things to work on. Yet I love sharing my stories, so I've found writing friends who I trust to share with, as you suggested. And, every now and then, I'll be brave and post some of my writing on my blog. :D It helps stiffen my spine a bit, and it makes me feel like I've actually accomplished something writing-wise, which is always a plus.

  2. Rachelle, we all have stories to tell, and our stories can only be told by us. I encourage you to continue working on stiffening your spine because I and many others need to hear your stories.

  3. Thanks, Bruce. Those words are a huge encouragement. :)

  4. I never thought of it as denying someone of the benefit of my story. That puts it in a different light. Thank you for sharing those words.
    Hoarders is one of my favorite shows. I'm learning to let go of things, including my words. I'm in a critique group that meets weekly. Sometimes I wonder if they get what I'm trying to write, but it does help to put it out for people to read, if for no other reason than to accept and sort through critiques. And to not be afraid to share, even if it's not seen as the "gifted child" I think it is.
    I like how Rachelle put it--stiffening your spine.