Pep Talk, No. 3: Plant the Dream in Others and Watch it Grow

Anais Nin (credit below) Anais Nin (credit below)

As writers, we often work solo.  And while the sense of being in charge of a project can be fabulous, the feeling of isolation can also be bleak, especially when we're waiting for our very first breaks.  For some of us, this loneliness speaks to a wish to share our work, a need to let our pieces affect the world. What's more, when we think snagging a publisher is the only ‘viable’ way to share, ongoing rejections can feel like a kick in the teeth.

Frankly, it is easy to forget that the act of sharing our work can not only empower us, but can also tap our meaning and purpose.  In fact, as well as sharing our work for critique, I argue we should also share to give pleasure to ourselves and others. In fact, in one-to-one Boosts, and during The Confident Writer, I often meet those who feel replenished by simply sharing their work and hearing how it brings pleasure to their audience.

Isn’t that, after all, what so many of us are about?

As a matter of fact, Anais Nin (who is one of my writing heroes) wrote a letter to a young writer who felt that giving away one of his stories would mean he’d have nothing left.  Nin herself had actually self-published books, such as ‘Under A Glass Bell’, in order to get them into other people’s hands, so now, in the autumn of her life, she had much to say to this young writer.  Here is an excerpt from the letter she wrote to him (the full text is published in her wonderful book of essays, “A Woman Speaks”):

“You have not yet discovered that you have a lot to give, and that the more you give the more riches you will find in yourself.  It amazes me that you feel that each time you write a story you give away one of your dreams and you feel the poorer for it.  But then you have not thought that this dream is planted in others, others begin to live it too, it is shared, it is the beginning of friendship and love. How is the world made which you enjoy, the friends around me that you love? They came because I first gave away my stories. They came to respond and to replenish the source.  They heard the calling of the Under The Glass Bell stories, calling for the fiesta, and they arrived with their own stories.”

Nin also encourages this young writer to give away his stories because doing so can inspire us to create countless others.  She tells him to permit himself to “flow and overflow” and that “something is always born of excess.”

I have been amazed at how prolific we can become when we learn that we can write for the world by posting our work on blogs or publishing in pamphlets or reading at readings.  Of course, this doesn't mean that we give up the dream, whatever it may be.  Rather, once we share our words, new words can come more easily.  In fact, at times, sharing can make words pour straight out of us.

So, if sharing your work is what you crave at your core, it’s certainly worth considering.

Think about it, dear writer. Is sharing important for you?

Remember that Grub Street run open readings every term for students who have taken a Grub course during the past term.  Keep an eye on the Rag to find out when these happen.  They are warm, celebratory evenings.

Photo Credit: Elsa Dorfman [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-2.5 (], from Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

Sue Williams is co-founder of Here Booky Booky ( where authors' works are made into beautiful books. With a background in psychology, education, and online marketing, she is an instructor and confidence coach at Grub Street and has published her short stories at a variety of magazines and journals including Narrative (where she also worked as an editor), Salamander, the Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere. Under her pen name, Sue is agented, has published a novel and several collections, writes columns on sexuality and spirituality, and also runs an indie press. As Sue, she works as a marketing assistant for branding and marketing expert Dorie Clark, and also coaches writers who are looking to build their confidence and platforms. Find out more at and

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