Overcoming the Fear of Submitting

By Maggie Dooley

Picture this: you’ve spent every hour of free time over the last few months perfecting your masterpiece. You’ve written, you’ve re-written, edited, and jotted down ideas on the train, in waiting rooms, and in the middle of the night. You’re proud of the work you’ve created– now what? 

If you’re anything like me, it will now sit, untouched, in the files of your computer like a receipt tossed into a junk drawer. It’s understandable. When we create, we put a piece of ourselves down on paper, and sharing that means we are opening ourselves up to be vulnerable, whether we want to or not. Sharing our work can feel like giving a part of our heart away to the reader, and it can be a daunting idea. Unfortunately, there is no secret to working up the nerve. There’s no magic way of knowing when it’s ready to be shared, and you won’t have some epiphany telling you exactly who to send it to and when. You just have to rip off the band aid and be brave. 

Easier said than done, I know.  

We often think about getting our work out there in terms of submitting it. Whether that be to an online or print journal, finding an agent and sending it to publishers, or even going the self-publishing route. These can be daunting ideas and may have the power to scare us away, no matter how proud we are of what we have created. In the age of social media, simply sharing a TikTok or Instagram post showing off what you’ve written can be just as beneficial, and a lot less daring of a task. It gives the opportunity to be more anonymous, if that makes you more comfortable, and also allows you to share with a group of people who can give real advice and appreciate the effort you’ve put in. Another way to share work without feeling like you’re going to go into full-blown panic attack mode is to talk to a friend or family member that you trust. They may not give the most unbiased advice, given that most good friends or family don’t want to outright hurt our feelings, but as the things we put down on the page often come from a deeper part of ourselves, it can feel more comforting knowing that the first person who will be judging is someone who already knows that part of you.  

In the end, how and when you share what you’ve created is up to you. It can stay hidden away forever, or you could be the next Susanne Collins or Stephen King. Before you share, all you can do is make sure you’ve created something you would be proud to put your name on, and be proud of yourself for finding the courage to hit send on it, whoever and wherever it may be going.  

-30 N staff

Author: 30 North

30 North is a national undergraduate literary journal. We accept submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as photos, digital art, drawings, and paintings. We also publish a variety of web content including interviews with authors and poets and reviews of contemporary literary works.

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