One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other. Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.
This week’s topic is:
How do your friends and fellow writers influence your WIP? Do you run sections by them or read out loud to a selected group of nearby writers? Do you ask for critiques from writers outside of your normal writing group? What guides your decisions about who you choose to trust with their advice?
Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.
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I am very (over)protective of my works in progress. I don’t even like telling my wife or kids the concept of what I am writing while I am writing it. I don’t know why that is, but I have been like that since the day I started writing.
But once I am ready to start letting people see a work in progress, I will share with a few close friends (some writers, some not). As many folks know, I am a big proponent of beta readers (see one of my posts about beta readers), so I will often gather one or two trusted beta readers as well in order to help get the most out of the early drafts.
When choosing someone to be an early reader or beta reader, I usually start with people who are already familiar with my writing style. This way I avoid getting bogged down with the “oh, wow, you’re too wordy” or “you talk about coffee too much” comments during the early phases. After I work through and incorporate the early feedback from these readers, I may expand out to some folks who are outside of my normal writing circles. Doing so gives me another set of perspectives and helps make the work stronger and more broadly approachable.
In some respects, anticipation trumps the actual event when it comes to writing. And when I refer to writing, I specifically refer to the process of drafting blog posts since that is my primary domain right now.
Like a closely guarded secret, I keep my words and thoughts to myself throughout the entire process of creating a work. Sometimes this is for a period of a few hours. Other times, it can span several weeks. Those moments leading up to the time when I click the publish button are electric. There is a plethora of emotions running rampant, ranging from nervous anxiety to elation at the prospect of sharing a personal creation.
As soon as the work is published, I am thinking about my next piece, even if I haven’t received any feedback for the work released just seconds before. I suppose that I live true to my mantra that I want to inspire and be inspired. I remain authentic and vulnerable in my writing style. Once I release that small piece of myself into the blogging universe for others to digest, I have shared my most authentic self. Regardless of whether it is accepted or pushed aside, I feel accomplished in my self-expression.
I am not a professional writer. I don’t seek out advice, but perhaps I should. I suppose as a part of my daily life, I liken my passion for writing as an avenue to share myself with the world. And even though I don’t necessarily use proper grammar, verb tense, etc, my primary goal is to connect with others.
So, I keep my thoughts closely guarded for the entire life of a work and then release it to everyone as a shared piece of myself once it is ready, at which point I am already moving on to my next piece.
I made the mistake of letting my group see my WIP before I was finished with the first draft. I was going to a writers’ conference and wanted to polish the chapters I had written to take with me.
Everyone in my group gave great advice, but since I hadn’t written the end all the different advice really knocked me off-track. And because this WIP wasn’t as polished as the previous things I’d submitted, there was less enthusiasm for it from the group. I finally had to put it away and work on something else.
Lesson learned: don’t show things before they’re ready.
Dawne, that is some great advice that I’m filing in my back pocket. Thankfully I’ve never been in that situation, and can see how that could derail a WIP.
I have a critique group I share my writing with. That’s about it, though. Unless a trusted reader consumes the entire mss at once, as a reader would, I think it’s hard to judge. And I want to know the reader is qualified to judge, not just speaking their opinion.
I have an online critque group too. My daughter, whose better in grammar then I am, also reviews my work.
i sometimes run stuff past my husband, but I am not sure how objective he is! I also go along to a bi monthly writing group where people read out their short stories (6 minutes max) and then the audience votes on their top three (the winners getting a cash prize). Even if you don’t win, which is most of the time, people are always really helpful with feedback on stories. I have put stories and a couple of chapters of a novel which is in progress on my blog but I have not had masses of feedback, maybe I need to post somewhere else?
I belong to a critique group, and though I value the members dearly, the crits are not always useful. Sometimes, however, their crits have led to just the comment I needed to rework a section of my WIP, and I am deeply grateful for those well considered crits. Am currently seeking a beta reader with no idea how to contact those who will do a credible job.