When I was in college, practicing in public meant sitting under an oak tree on campus, flipping open my spiral-bound notebook, and scratching out a poem as students walked the path beside me.
Creative writing classes gave me another way to practice in public, when my poems were workshopped by my peers.
As a young adult building a freelance writing career, I submitted my work to literary journals and magazines—that was about the only way I could practice in public. Those low-tech days limited how and where we could share our words.
Today, the world has exploded with numerous ways to practice in public—I can share my work with you using tools I couldn’t have dreamed of when I sat under that oak tree on campus. Some of my content goes out through my coaching newsletter, my Substack newsletter called Story Hatchery, social media, and my website.
Tools to Practice in Public
At the click of a button, from the palms of our hands, we can instantly share our work with the world using:
- newsletter apps like Substack, Beehiiv, and Ghost
- social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Threads
Each time we hit “publish” or “post,” we’re practicing in public.
And each time we turn around and write another piece, we have more experience, more input, and more empowerment to become a better writer.
Benefits for Writers Who Practice in Public
Jeff Goins and others urge us to “practice in public,” because “there is no better way to improve than to put your work out there, sharing it for the whole world to see.”1
Of course there are good reasons to practice in private, but when we look up from the pages of our journal and share ideas with others through tools like newsletters and social media, we find readers. We build our platform. We experiment.
Heavens, there are loads of benefits from practicing in public! Let’s dive in and see why it’s worth it to start…
1. Save Time and Write with Intent
If you write in private more than in public, you’re likely not achieving your goals. Marion Roach Smith argues that writing privately in response to a prompt wastes valuable time—time that could be dedicated to a work in progress. Writing with purpose and sharing it with the public, though, allows you to focus on creating meaningful content. Save time; write with intent, boldly practicing in public.
2. Write Better and Faster: Experiment, Adjust, Improve
When writers learn new literary techniques, it’s fun to experiment with them in a low-stakes setting like LinkedIn or Instagram.
Practicing in public allows for rapid improvement. Similar to that oft-referenced experiment where pottery students rapidly refined their skills by making numerous pots (instead of laboring over a single pot), writers hone their techniques through continual practice and sharing—the more the better!
By sharing your work, you experiment and receive immediate feedback. This iterative process allows you to adjust and improve, refining your craft over time.
Because you’re sharing more often, you find ways to express your ideas more efficiently, making you a faster writer, too. Try time-savers like this:
- create platform-specific templates or outlines to copy and use each time you begin—you’ll save time and get started sooner
- use dictation to speak drafts into existence (there are so many options for how we can do this on our phones!)
- set a timer and freewrite as fast as possible to get a solid draft out
- connect with a friend and share your idea with that person in a recorded Zoom session or put your voice recorder on the table if you’re in person—the transcript can be your draft
3. Learn to Write Tight.
Strunk and White said it succinctly: “Omit needless words.”2 Character and word limits of newsletters and social media force us to omit needless words and “write tight.” By keeping our content concise and clear, we practice a core writing skill regularly in short form, then carry it into our long-form projects.
- Writing tight at the idea level avoids idea sprawl. We practice conveying one specific idea or topic clearly without unnecessary elaboration. This carries over to long-form projects when we think of paragraphs or sections in a chapter: one main idea per unit.
- We write tight stylistically by focusing on the sentence level, shaving away what’s unnecessary. And learning to write tight cleans up purple prose so the idea moves along at just the right speed.
4. Develop Consistency and Gain Confidence
Writing and sharing publicly gets you in a consistent flow. As you formalize your public practice and set up a personal publishing schedule, you learn to meet deadlines, develop workflows, and enhance your overall productivity. The professional mindset builds trust in your abilities, which encourages continual growth and the confidence to pursue challenging topics.
5. Find Your Voice
Practicing in public allows writers to discover and refine their authentic voices. By experimenting with new words and different tones, styles, and perspectives, we craft a voice true to how we think and speak. This increases the chance we resonate with our intended audience.
If one post doesn’t sound quite like “you,” no worries! Post something else the next day. The opportunity to post often in these low-stakes spaces gives us freedom to find our voice.
6. Clarify and Validate Your Message
Planning to write a book? Get those ideas out now, in short form, a little at a time, before they’re a book—get them out of your head and out into the world!
In his book Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday says, “A book should be an article before it’s a book, and a dinner conversation before it’s an article. See how things go before going all in.”3
It’s okay if it isn’t perfect yet. Put words to what’s floating around inside you and see how it flies. Test ideas intended for a future book by writing them first as an Instagram post, article, Opinion piece, or newsletter.
Did people read it and react or interact? Good! That speeds up the “feedback loop,” as they say, and serves as a great way to get input—to see if we’re striking a cord, resonating with readers. Because you practiced in public, you have the information you need to write a longer version, full of illustrations and inspiration.
Isn’t it better to write short and small first instead of devoting months to a full-length book…only to publish to crickets? Isn’t it more fun to see readers react with enthusiasm to the shorter versions of book ideas? Practice in public and you’ll find motivation to go all-in!
7. Realize We Contain Multitudes4
By consistently creating and sharing content, we realize the abundance of topics we care about. We can follow our curiosity to explore new thoughts and make new discoveries, sharing them with readers. Notice and share trends, lessons, insights, and wisdom with your audience. There’s no end to what you can write about, because your wild, glorious, creative life is brimming with so much to share every single day!
8. Build a Platform Organically (and Have Fun)
Practicing in public means we consistently share with readers our heart, passion, questions; we continually offer valuable answers and solutions. Doing so builds our personal brand and identity by associating ideas with our name—we get known for the tone and topic, post after post.
And you’ll naturally connect with others who write on similar topics. You can interact with them in the comments. Who knows? Maybe you’ll collaborate with them. So many things become possible when you show up often, even daily, practicing in public. Before long, you’re reaching readers in ways you never imagined.
Writing (and Publishing) Regularly Can Transform Your Craft and Reach a Wider Audience
Try publishing your own short-form work, so you don’t have to wait for anyone. You’re your own boss. This means you write without waiting for a gatekeeper to give you the green light. With this freedom, you’ll tap into joy and feel playful.
Readers sense this. Have fun practicing in public and you’ll be yourself, which means the right people will be drawn to you. You’ll see your words impact them in real time.
You can certainly submit to other publications, increasing visibility and building credibility through bylines. Go for it! That’s another excellent way to practice in public. It just takes more time than when we publish ourselves.
The more we share on various platforms, the better chance we have to connect with a wider audience, engage with diverse thinkers, and build a loyal readership base over time—all because we choose to practice not just in our private journals but also through avenues that push our ideas into the world.
So don’t be shy! Give it a try, because your writing improves and expands when you practice in public.
- How to Be a Better Writer (Pt 3): Write Tight: https://annkroeker.com/2018/09/04/ep-168-how-to-be-a-better-writer-pt-3-write-tight/
- Are Creative Writing Prompts a Help or Hindrance? https://annkroeker.com/2023/10/12/are-creative-writing-prompts-a-help-or-hindrance/
- The Paralysis of Perfectionism: https://annkroeker.com/2017/11/14/ep-127-the-paralysis-of-perfectionism/
Would you like someone to gift you a coaching session or coaching package with me? If so, send that friend or family member the link to annkroeker.com/coachinggift where they’ll see how they give you what you really want: a 1-to-1 session with your very own writing coach—and a flourishing writing life in 2024!
- Goins, Jeff. Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. Thomas Nelson, 2018. (p. 129)
- Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style: With Revisions, an Introduction, and a Chapter on Writing. Macmillan, 1979. (p. 23)
- Holiday, Ryan. Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts. Portfolio/Penguin, 2017. (p. 42)
- Here I’m paraphrasing Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself, 51. Citation: American. “Song of Myself, 51.” Poets.org, 15 Feb. 2019, poets.org/poem/song-myself-51. Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.