I once had a voice teacher in college (Voice for non-music majors, I should add) who told us on the first day that we would be doing lots of solo singing and it was okay if we were scared because singing for a room full of people was like taking off your clothes and standing naked before them while they judge you. At first I was like, huh? But then he explained that our voice, and the instrument we use to sing is inside our body. It's hidden where nobody can see. You can't look at a person and know whether or not they're a good singer. So the act of singing is taking out that hidden part and putting it on display for everyone.
I think writing is the same way. Until you put words to paper and show it to someone, no one knows what's really inside you. Writing reveals things even you didn't know about yourself. What moves you. What you think is beautiful or scary. What breaks your heart. You're showing people how you see the world and then hoping that even if they don't see it the same way, they will at least get what you're trying to say and love it anyway. That's scary.
It's also really brave. I've always thought that in general, art is courage. Even when an idea burns inside you to get out, actually bringing it to life and sharing it with others takes courage. The truly amazing paintings, music, and books, the ones that changed or made history are the ones where the creator took a risk, followed their gut, and then showed it to the world.
I think to those of us who are unpublished and plugging away this is important to remember. It's supposed to be a little bit scary. You're sharing a hidden part of yourself. You're supposed to wonder if what's true for you will translate and resonate with other people. If you're writing, and every single word you put down has you thinking "They're gonna love this! This is exactly what people want!" Then maybe, (just maybe, because hey, you might be a writing genius) you're not reaching deep enough inside yourself to the things that make you uniquely you. You don't want to do what's already been done. You need to stand out, and that means swallowing your fear (and your pride) and showing all of you, even the hidden parts.