Help Me Out of my Writing Closet

I write in a closet.  It’s a cozy place with everything I need to create my stories.  There is a Microsoft Surface with a blue keyboard and a mouse, because I can’t figure out how to use the trackpad on that thing.  There’s a meandering path to get there and inevitably I find myself distracted by work, husband, child, and friends when I’m on my way to write.  Even when I carve out time to visit my writing closet the way is often blocked by obligations.

The thing I like about my closet is that I decide who visits me there.  Hand selected friends, family members, and other bloggers get to see what I produce in my closet.  If I take a risk and show my work to new people and they don’t like it my closet is off the beaten path so they won’t stumble upon it again.

In my dreams my closet is huge.  It’s an auditorium filled with adoring readers and harsh critics who can’t help but love me.  I sit onstage and read my work with tears coursing down my face and tissues are handed around as emotions fill every nook and cranny of the audience.  There is magic in that space and time stops for my stories.

But, growing out of a closet is scary.  What if when I get to the auditorium it’s empty except for me and my mom?  (Of course  my mom will come, she’s awesome like that.  She will even be there early.)  What if it’s filled with haters and they throw rotten vegetables at me?  What if it’s rundown, rat infested and stinky, and not the space I was dreaming of?  It’s so cozy in my closet, and I’m not sure I want to leave except that dream is so alluring…

I had an enlightening meeting with my family therapist on Friday and she told me I have to stop hiding my writing.  She said I had to go home and post about my writing on my personal Facebook account, but that terrifies me.  Right now my writing world and the real world are very separate, and I’m scared of merging the two.   That said, I’m also tired of living this dual life: one where I live out my hopes and dreams through my stories and another where I look down my engineer’s nose and scoff, “Isn’t writing for 23 year old English majors who can’t find a real job?”  I even have two separate Twitter profiles.  This schizophrenia runs deep.

So blogger friends, as people I trust to hang out in my writing closet all the time, what do you do?  Is your writing life and your real life the same?  Did you ever hide your writing life from your real life?  What happened if you merged the two?  Any advice for how to embrace my writer persona?  Have you put your writing on your personal Facebook account, and if so what happened?

Oh, and I totally don’t write in a literal closet.  I write in a beautiful basement study that was recently remodeled.

In fact, there’s even a real closet in there.  It’s filled with games and craft supplies, and anyone is welcome to see it.  Even you, my blogging friends.

 I’m looking forward to some help!  Thanks friends!

34 thoughts on “Help Me Out of my Writing Closet

  1. I do what you did there too. Splitting social life and writing life, both of them is real and maybe I’m doing it because i’m afraid of being judge by my friends because i have a different writing style in both world. Looking for some answer too. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting that you do the same thing. And here I thought I was odd. It’s good to know that others do the same thing. We’ll find out together if there is a way to combine lives.


  2. I, too, separate my life from my writing. I don’t know why I don’t want anyone to know. I feel uncomfortable saying “I’m writing a book” because I don’t want to be asked “what’s it about” because sometimes when I’m writing I write dofferent stories all at once for different series. It’s how my mind works. While I have a general idea i just don’t want to explain it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think it’s fascinating how many of us keep that part of our lives separate. I also feel like I need a better answer to “what is your book about” but I’m capable of stumbling through an answer.

      I also feel like I should be spending my time doing something “more important”. If I’m writing I’m not working or parenting or wife-ing or friend-ing, so I’m probably letting someone down. I don’t want those people to know what I’m doing when I’m not doing something for them. Writing feels selfish.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Your writing room is very nice. I just have a set-up in the corner of the living room. I’d say all my family/friends know I write, and it’s out where they can read and I announce it on FB and Twitter. Mostly they don’t care to read any of it, but tell me I should just write a book and make a lot of money…like I can snap my fingers and do that so easy! haha! I don’t understand how to do all that it takes to do that, so blogging my writing is just right for me. Best wishes on your writing adventure!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! The writing room is a recent creation in our house. My husband has his TV room. My daughter has her bedroom, but I was dying for a space in our house. So the guest bedroom became my craft, writing and working room. It’s benefit everyone in the family since momma has a space to call her own.

      You are my first comment who actually shares her writing life with her normal life. I can completely see how most people wouldn’t read, because I find that with the people I do share with. A few are dedicated readers, and I love them, but others just aren’t engaged, which is fine too. Do you think that people are less engaged the farther they personally are from you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, I find the people I know personally, just don’t care much about reading anything I write. I don’t write much personal information, so don’t have to worry about making someone mad.:) I feel closer to all my followers/readers of my blog, because they actually read and comment and since they blog, also, they know what all it takes to sit here at the keyboard all day, being that I make no money from it, and it’s not a ‘real job’. So, to answer your question, the farther people are from me, the more engaged they are. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Oh, that’s a fascinating clarification. So your blogging followers/readers are the ones who really engage. Do you have anyone in your personal life who is also a reader? Thanks for all your thoughtful comments!

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Yes, I get the same thing from my friends and family and I ask myself so often, “Am I surrounded by illiterates?” I am definitely going to write a blog post someday about writers being totally under appreciated by friends and family. You are an inspiration and I will visit your blog soon! Clare

          Liked by 3 people

      2. Pretty much only other bloggers are the ones who read my posts. My daughters may read something once in awhile, if I point out that I included a photo of their dog/cat/grand daughter’s socks. haha … I do have one person i know, she was a neighbor (since then has moved to another city), but she reads pretty much all of my posts, and makes a comment once in awhile, on the blog, or at least hits ‘like’ and comments on FB. … I’ll wish you a lovely weekend and happy blogging! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I keep my writing life separate as well. I have separate Facebook and Twitter accounts for personal and for blog. I’m not really sure why, other than maybe I don’t want people I know to judge my writing. I still need more confidence in my writing and I’m not ready to share it with people I know. I’m not even sure that makes sense.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Amie, I totally think this makes sense. My hesitation is less about people judging my writing and more about people reading something that makes them view me, or my family, differently. My husband and I are pretty open about many of our struggles, but still. What if somehow his coworkers read my equality post and took offense that I mention their girls with power tools calendars? If I keep my audience small I won’t accidentally piss someone off. Of course, isn’t that what we are trying to do as writers? Create real emotions in people? I love your response and am not surprised that we are on the same path.


  5. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

    My writing life has become more integrated with the rest of my life gradually since I finished grad school several years ago. I used to keep them very separate because no one in my family wrote, and I didn’t have writing friends beyond the people in my graduate program. If I said anything about it, reactions varied: “Oh, do you teach?” “How much money do you make?” “What have you published?” “You write poetry? Oh, so you have another job?” etc. It took me awhile to be brave enough to talk about living as a poet and a nonfiction writer. The breakthrough came when I joined the staff of a lit mag and could use that as an actual thing I did that nonwriters could latch onto. People who don’t write don’t always realize that lit mag staff seldom gets paid, so that stopped the job questions. But talking about my work got easier, too – I got poems published here and there and could say so, I got a few pieces of flash published, and I run a blog. My Facebook account covers it all (I vary the privacy settings depending on my post), but I have another page I manage for the lit mag I now run with a colleague (Gyroscope Review). My Twitter account is mostly about writing and art. You just have to leap and figure that people listening to you are learning what a writer’s life means right along with you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kathleen! This is such an incredibly helpful and thoughtful comment. Thank you so much. I’ve been processing your words for two days now and think that you really identified the internal challenge I feel sharing my writing with a broader community. I have not yet had “the breakthrough” that you mention. There is nothing tangible other than my blog that I can point to and show what I’m doing or explain why I’m doing it, and until I have a thing to point to – a published story – I don’t feel like my writing is really anything worth sharing. Now I must spend the next two days understanding why I feel that way. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I’ve had a breakthrough, and maybe it’s good to have the awkward conversations you had to help me clarify to myself why I write. Thank you again for sharing your story with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

        I’m so glad that you found my comment helpful! And this is one way writers stick together. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear when you decide that your writing really is worth sharing, published or not.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It has been great to get the perspective of so many others and to know we have all struggled/are struggling with how and when to share our words. The conversations here over the past few days have made my heart happy knowing there is a community around me already, even if you are spread all over the world.


  6. Johanna luv, you gotta come out of the closet…at some point, when you’re ready. I keep my stuff all under one name. Initially, I had two Twitter accounts, but then something happened. I was at a conference as Dr. Garland and someone big in the field liked what I was saying, but she followed the WRONG Twitter. I had to let her know that, unless she wanted to read about my dad and the occasional poem, then she might want to follow my other Twitter lol. At that point, I knew I wasn’t going to continue having this conversation everywhere I went. Also, I have a FB fan page. I share some blog posts there, and some of the people who follow it are friends and family, so they expect to read that stuff there. I also share some via my regular FB page, depending on the topic. Like the 43 lessons I did for my bday and three lessons I’ve learned being married to Dwight; those were shared via regular FB.

    Two reasons I don’t separate: (1) I don’t care if people know I write. I mean, in fact, I hope they know I write because you never know where someone else’s knowledge of what you’re doing might be connected to something else. (2) I don’t have time to keep up with a personal social media site AND a writer site. Now, maybe when I’m super famous, I’ll need to keep a separate one, but right now nope. I understand, but I just can’t see it.

    Apologies for such a loooong post 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. No apologies for the long comment! This is exactly what I was looking for, especially from my blog friends who are more established than I am. Keeping up two twitter accounts is difficult, but I don’t think you want to read about my renewable energy posts, and I don’t think that my boss wants to read about my tiny knit election…but I like you method of sharing some writing to your personal pages when it is relevant. I wanted to share my equality post to my personal accounts, because I’m a runner everywhere, but shied away because…I don’t know why. I like your reasons for why you share. I think they are both really valid, but I hope when you are super famous you’ll remember us who knew you back when! Thanks a ton for this thoughtful response, and letting me learn from your experiences!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you should absolutely come out of the closet. I know how you feel about not offending people – my writing isn’t really fiction but there are definitely things I have had to censor so as not to upset people, funny quirks and bizarre comments perhaps they’ve made, but I don’t want to seem as though I’m mocking them if they read my posts. Your writing is beautiful, and I don’t think you’ll alienate anyone because of it, and I think you should share it. I, for one, look forward to reading when you post and think others would too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, but the closet is so cozy and intimate. I do love the quirky and bizarre and am always torn by the flavor it brings to a story versus worrying about the feelings of that person. In the case of a stranger, no big deal, but in the case of friends and family well… it can be either no big deal or a disaster. I’m pretty careful to only share things that I’ve either vetted with people I know, or things I think they will be okay with. One never knows though, do they? Thanks for calling my writing beautiful. You make my heart happy. Now I have to go photograph more tiny knit scenes in preparation for the big election day post. It’s great therapy for the actual real person election.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest lately, but saved your post so I could go back and read it again and read all of the comments. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately too.

    I am right there with you in your struggle! The discussion going on in the comments here is very enlightening. For a long time I only told a few friends about my blog. There are 2 or 3 people who are loyal followers and support me completely. The rest of my followers are from the blogging community. I mention a few personal details throughout my blog, but even its name keeps me anonymous. A few months ago I decided to take the plunge and give the link to my facebook friends. They were all very supportive of the IDEA, but I’m not sure how many of them even read it. I really only gained one or two followers among them all. I just don’t think most of them are interested – what a blow to the ego! haha! Since that initial “announcement” I have not posted links to specific posts. Being the kind of person who says “hey, look at me!” all the time is just not in my nature, so it’s hard to self-promote.

    Anyway, like others have commented, I’m also concerned about offending or embarrassing someone if I write about them. I need to get over that. If what I write is true, heartfelt, and not done with malice, I shouldn’t worry so much. But we all have to decide where to draw our own line. I would LOVE to write a book about my husband’s ex. The things she has done and said over the years are hilarious, horrifying, and exasperating. But I know that much of it would hurt my stepdaughter. She loves her mom, as she should. There are also secrets that my stepdaughter doesn’t know – and those are not my stories to tell.

    Your post and the comments have inspired me to start sharing my work more. Since I left my full-time job to do freelance business writing, I’ve started referring to myself as a “freelance writer” when asked what I do. It still doesn’t feel completely natural in my mouth, but I’m getting there.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! Thanks for the comment and all the thoughts. I’m humbled at thinking I’ve inspired you to share more, but I’m right there with you. Already I’m planning which post will be my first to show up on Facebook. (The knit election day? Seems like a fun choice…) Eeek! The thought scares me. Before I do any big sharing, I’m planning to do a quick read through and take down any posts that make me really uncomfortable. Mostly it’s family I worry about, because only my parents and husband know I blog, and only my mom reads it. The idea of in-laws and cousins pouring through my posts makes me nervous.

      I do think that the universal experience that “no one really cared” when others have shared their writing has made me feel more brave. I too have close friends who read everything, some who read occasionally and some who never read. My blogging friends and a few real life friends make up the core of my audience. I think sharing is a bigger deal to me than to my acquaintances, like most things in life.

      Your comment also makes me think about my other challenge here, which is that as a human being I’m much more comfortable with gatherings of a few close friends as opposed to huge parties. In some ways I love that my blog is a space where I can have in depth conversations with my readers. I wonder what bloggers/authors like John Scalzi do with their hundreds of comments. (Oh to have to worry about that problem!)

      Thanks again for sharing, and good luck with your freelance writing career! (I love how that sounds!)

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Fantastic comment! And I will be seeking you out to follow you ASAP. Now the Facebook thing – read my comment below, please, and know that FB people are not readers! So, link those posts to FB anyhow. Someone will find them and appreciate them.
      I think you should write that book about your husband’s ex – just change the name and make her character really ugly. That way, the ex will not want to admit to being the character, even if she is really ugly. Put a few warts on her face! I am starting to write mystery books and in my next one, I’m going to kill my husband’s ex and I may even torture her in the process. But I’ll change the name to protect the innocent. (In my children’s book I have a minor character who lives in the barn. She is a large pink pig and is full of hot air. Guess who?! ) I’m going to visit you now, because I know you have impeccable taste if you follow this blog. Clare

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post and all the comments. I find it interesting that our approach to sharing is opposite. I started my blog because my writing was disorganized. It was everywhere before…on napkins and flash drives. I didn’t even know what a blogging community was…I still really don’t. Unlike you, I share most of my blogs on Facebook, which consists almost entirely of extended family and a few close friends. It is also where I get the majority of my comments. The blogging community doesn’t have a clue who I am and I am always surprised (and delighted) when I gain a follower out of the blue. I think you, too, will be surprised when you open the door and let people in. I think letting strangers in is easier. Letting people closer to you in is actually harder. You have to decide if it is worth the risk. Our writing often reveals who we really are and what we really think. That can be scary. But, remember the people who really know you, won’t be shocked at all by what you write and, in fact, will become some of your best promoters. And those people who “sort of” know you, will now have a glimpse into your soul. Why they choose to keep reading your blog or not has more to do with them than you. Not everyone, even your friends and acquaintances, are blog-reading people. And not everyone will agree with your point of view. That’s ok, too. It doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t like you or your writing. Other opinions are what make us grow as writers and as people. I am so grateful you have let me into your writing world. And, yes, I do think differently about you than I did before. And that’s a good thing. You are a lot more real to me now, whether we agree on things or not. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that part of the difference is that you have always been a writer, so that’s an aspect that your friends and family aren’t surprised by. Maybe that makes it easier for you to share with them? Me? In my family I’m the logical engineer and this foray into “the arts” was supposed to be what others did, not me. So I feel like I’m stealing other people’s dreams while simultaneously making them recognize me as a different person than they thought I was. But really, the scariest part isn’t my closest friends and family, because they all know and are mostly supportive. It’s like you said, it’s opening up to the “sort of know you” people that terrifies me. As a private person I don’t like oversharing and I don’t want to create an obligation for folks if I tell them I’m writing. Uncomfortable all around.

      I do agree though that this is a great discussion thread building here. I love seeing how other people have struggled with sharing, have been disappointed by sharing, and have grown by sharing. I’ve loved reading everything here the past week. My therapist will be so proud of me! Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have recently linked my blog posts to my Facebook page, but nobody on Facebook reads them. They’re obviously intimidated by the remaining word count number at the end of the intro. But they do check out the pics and appear to “like” them. Facebook people are not really into lots of words, but I would still link to it, if I were you. Now, I’m linked to twitter and a lot of bloggers are there and share my posts. But again, Twitter people only read just so many words and then they go blank. Bloggers are certainly the most receptive and appreciative audience and as one of those bloggers, I think you should get your awesome words out there. I absolutely loved the post about the little knit political figures. So – get those posts out there and start thinking about getting that book out there, too. We’re waiting for it and we will not stop clamoring until we have it in our cold, little, knitted mittened hands! Clare

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! Yes, I think you’ve seen in the comments that plenty of people have had the “put my stuff on Facebook and it gets ignored” experience. I think your theory is really interesting, that people are looking for bite sized chunks on Facebook and nibbles on Twitter and neither attract readers. Your comment actually made me have an interesting discussion with my husband, who does not read my blog or any blogs, because he simply does not understand blogging. It’s too long. It takes too much time. But once I explained to him that blogs are like conversations you get to have with people all over the world where interactions tend to be thoughtful he sort of got it. (I don’t think I turned him into a blog reader, though.) I loved this comment. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll let you know when I’m splashing my stuff all over Facebook. Now off to find you on Twitter, because I hang out there too.

      Oh, and the final post about the tiny knit political figures is heading out tomorrow. It may be my first share on Facebook because I think our country will need a little levity on Election Day.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not quite ready to be that transparent. I have one relative and a handful of friends I trust that know about my blog. The rest of the world only knows me by my pen name.

    I’m afraid I can’t be as honest as I need to be if I’m worrying about the reactions of others. In quasi-anonymity, I can write what I really feel.

    It’s not a closet. It’s more of a lovingly-knitted shawl. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I didn’t know you were writing on a closet. I think I’m a chronic over sharer, everything goes on my Facebook page and the Angel Zoe Kindness Project Facebook page. Some of my friends ask me of they can share t because it seems too personal, but it’s pretty much all public!

    Liked by 1 person

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