I have a guest post up here. Check it out when you get the chance.
I subscribe to Dave Farland's "Daily Kick in the Pants," which is a daily newsletter he puts out to encourage writers to continue to write (or maybe to start writing). Yesterday, he had a great piece about finding the courage to write. I found myself nodding and agreeing with most of his points, especially the part about needing the entire world to read your writing.
I don't ever recall being shy about people reading my work. Mostly because I never really thought it was that good or that it would go anywhere. I enjoyed writing (still do), and I have fond memories of being in grade school sitting at my grandmother's typewriter creating stories. However, I never thought they would develop into anything else but a way to pass the time. Honestly, I can't remember if I let anyone read them or not. If they did, it didn't bother me.
In high school, and I had a fabulous teacher who really encouraged my writing. Well, actually, I had two. I distinctly remember sitting in my sophomore English class learning a new way to score essays. It was this long, drawn out process of looking at sentence clarity and content and flow of paragraphs, among other things. I don't remember all of the criteria, but there were several, and they would be scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest. For practice, the teacher would put up student papers (anonymous, of course) and we would score them. I remember the day my paper went up. As my own worst critic, I thought for sure it would score very low. Surprisingly, under the criteria, it actually scored very high. I was pleasantly surprised.
Even with my wonderful English teachers, I never thought of my work as going any further than an assignment. Then, some of the other swimmers and I decided to have a contest: Who could write the best fiction story? By that point, I wanted people to read my writing. They had to if I was going to win. And I was going to win. (Side note: the contest was never finished, so a winner was never declared.)
Since then, I've always wanted people to read my creations. If I wanted to keep my writing private, I would keep a journal. If I can't share what I've done with others, then I don't want to do it. My stories may not be fantastically wonderful and win tons of prizes/contests, but they entertain, and that's all I care about.
I do know what he's talking about, though, when he says you have to find the courage. Many times I've fought back panic attacks when it came time to send out queries. No matter how courageous you are, you're going to get rejected. Repeatedly. And that weighs on your psyche. The true test is being able to pick yourself up and move forward. So, I would say that you not only need to find courage, you need to find some stubbornness and staying power. It's the only way you're going to make it.