Sharing as you Write

Know what I’m talking about? Let’s say that you’re working on a draft of a piece of writing. Maybe it’s a short story or a book or whatever it may be, and you have a friend or sibling who’s interested in reading it. But that person doesn’t want to wait until everyone can read it, they want it as soon as you get the words on paper. And you don’t see any problem with it because someone is interested in your story. So you send off an email every time you write a new chapter. And your friend keeps encouraging you because your writing is perfect.

Have I done this before? Yes. Have I been the one on the receiving end? Yes. Do I think it helps anyone to do this? No. Let’s face it, your writing isn’t perfect. Your story probably has holes in it because you just rushed to write it and get it to your friend. But there’s no point in doing this. Because your friend is most likely telling you everything you’ve written is great and not providing you with any real feedback. So you just keep writing and writing and you have this idea that it’s SO great, and maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t, You’ll never really know from sharing your work as you write it.

Have you ever had a major writing project and done this? Or maybe you were the friend?


On this day in 2014 I published Novel Writing: How do you name your characters?.

 

44 thoughts on “Sharing as you Write

  1. I have, and I do think it can be helpful if you pick the right person to share with. I don’t do it out of excitement… I usually do it because I need to bounce an idea off someone. I resist the desire to share for excitement sake because I know that my first draft is going to change. Maybe considerably. Like, 5000 word sections completely cut, or whole subplots altered to fit better. So, in order to appear somewhat consistent and coherent, my writing stays mostly under wraps until the first draft is done.

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    • I should say… Until the first *edit* is done.

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    • Hm. Do you ever do this while working on a major project? Which is probably a dumb question. Cause is there a such thing as a non-major project once you’ve been writing for a long time?

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      • I do. Reference my guest post on your blog 😉 I have specific writing buddies. We bounce ideas off each other. Usually it’s along the lines of “this wording will JUST NOT COME OUT RIGHT!” And usually, one of them will say, “Well, dummy… that’s because you’re totally stuck on this passive phrase. Reword this.right.here.” and I go… *oooohhhh yeah*

        Now, that said… I follow the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook. I know… I know… consider it like watching a train wreck in action. It’s amusing. Sometimes it’s entertaining. I definitely don’t read every post. And sometimes, when I go out there, it’s like… oh my god, do you want us to write our story for you? They’ll be like, “Here, read this excerpt and then tell me what I should do next.” Um. How should I know? I’m not writing your story, dude…

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      • Hm. Right. But I think we’re talking about different things. It doesn’t sound like you’re sending off your writing to someone as soon as you get it on paper.

        And I can’t read any NaNo stuff. I literally just laugh. Cause it gets ridiculous.

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      • With one of my writing buddies, I’ll send it off as soon as I get it written if I feel like it needs something. Even then, I will re-read it a couple times before sending.

        But for the rest of the world (including my beta readers) I go through a minimum of three edit passes before sharing. First: Technical. Second: Structural/Flow. Third: Another technical. Some sections go through more than three edits.

        That said, I have taken chapters or excerpts of a work-in-edit to my writing critique group.

        LOL so maybe my answer is no, I don’t send off-the-cuff writing to anyone. Why would I want to frighten my friends like that?!! 😉

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      • Wow. I wish I had some kind of system like yours. Seriously. I just write. And then go through everything a bunch afterward.

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      • It’s taken time to build my network, but mostly I think I really lucked out. I found an amazing, local critique group where I just seemed to click right on in. I started with MeetUp groups, and then just talked to people. Some of my beta readers are people I’ve known forever. Some are actually past editing clients! Mostly, I just go way outside my own comfort zone, and force myself to ask tough questions like, “Hey, you want to beta read for me?” And then I usually offer cookies. LOL That probably sounds snarky… but I’m completely serious. It’s hard work asking people to read my three-quarter-baked ideas.

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  2. Many years ago, my mother wrote down some old family stories. This was intended to be a local history of sorts, with the idea of publishing on a local level. There was over a hundred years of history involving ranches and various citizens. She shared her work with one family member who had some teaching credentials. This family member passed the work throughout the entire family. This caused rifts, because some of them didn’t care for the personal nature of the stories. It also destroyed any ability mom ever had that someone might buy a copy.

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    • That has to be the worst thing that can happen with this. One day you’re thinking that you’re writing something that people might want to read, and the next that opportunity is snatched away. No good

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  3. I have a friend who is a writer, too, and he sends back notes like, “you had that person sit down and never get up” or “it’s not clear who is speaking”–really helpful things. I think it can put an unfair burden on family and friends. I hired an editor before my book got a publisher, and that woman is worth gold to me. She’s the one who said, “you need more background on this character” or “this whole section needs to go.” She didn’t say anything I didn’t agree with, but I didn’t see it until she pointed it out. (If anyone needs an editor, she’s Catherine Adams @ Inkslinger.)

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    • Well I definitely wasn’t talking about sharing your work with an editor. And even if you get decent feedback, you’re either going to keep writing when you think something needs to be fixed or you’re editing as you go. I like neither scenario. But that’s just me.

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  4. That is why after you’re done you make sure you like it yourself before offering it to your friend, especially if you’re a perfectionist 😛
    PLUS you’d probably show it to more than one person to make sure what the other friend is true :’)

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    • Writers always think their writing can be better. And good point about sharing with more than one person. I actually think when I did it if was two people. But they’d always say the same thing. 😒

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      • To be honest i disagree with “making their writing better” because when someone is truly writing it’s not for others, but for himself. And ask someone you don’t know that well, this way he’d be more honest with you!

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      • I meant that if you have a writer with a draft of a story, if he keeps reading it he will keep finding something to change. Has nothing to do with others.

        I’d rather ask no one. Until there’s a finished product.

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  5. I have a small group of people I do this with. They are the test readers I use. They give good feedback, but I have had to teach a few of them how to give me good feedback.

    What has been key for me is to find people that are different kinds of readers. I have one with a degree in psychology, one who is devoutly religious, and another that is an atheist.

    These different perspectives have helped me a great deal. By having them read as I write, I have avoided making a mistake too long a few times. Like my friend the machinist asking me about how the physical infrastructure of my world worked. That question made me do a lot of work, but nipped even more problems in the bud.

    If you have the right people, you can do anything you want to, really.

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    • I like what you’ve done. The different readers from different perspectives. I would still rather share my writing when there’s a draft or more finished product than bit by bit, but your method seems to work for you. I can’t argue that.

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  6. My wife reads and edits all of my writing. She is ruthless, brutal, and merciless with her critique. Not rude, but honest. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve learned to trust her implicitly.

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  7. I don’t like to share what I’ve written unless it really is at the final stages. However, for blog posts, I don’t mind having a friend read it through after the first draft. I think if you are going to ask for feedback then be prepared to answer back, decide for yourself what you want/don’t want and develop a reptilian-like skin. Good post, as always!

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    • Writers need thick skin to begin with. Reviews. Queries. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. And I agree. The ultimate decision will always be the writer’s. One need not forget that when it comes to feedback.

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  8. I never share my writing with family, though I have a writer friend who reads the odd piece, but only after a good first draft is finished. My family have read very little of my work- I don’t really see the point, as all they’re going to do is give non-specific comments when I need specifics about plot structure and tone etc.
    Actually had a row with my mother in law when she sneaked a look at some of my writing without permission.
    I share with an online writing group and that’s about all 🙂

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    • I’m.not in any writing groups, but I think this us exactly what they do. Make you share something new you’ve written, right? I’d never like that. Not because I wouldn’t like the feedback, but because it’s a tiny part they’re getting to critique.

      She read your work without you knowing? Who does that?

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      • Yeah, well, she is a lady who needs to know everything.
        My writing group is very informal, no rules. We show each other work when and if we’re ready, whether we need views on structure or a final proof. I’m still developing as a writer (when will I not be!), so it’s been great to have extra eyes on my writing

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      • Haha okay.

        I think it being informal is probably better than having a defined set of rules that are strictly followed and enforced. But I’m still not sure that a writing group.would be for me. But if it works for you, who am I to criticize?

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  9. Nope, nothing gets shared until the edit is done.

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  10. I only share with one person as I write, and that’s usually after I’ve taken time to write and edit and write and edit and write and edit over and over again until it’s some semblance of professional. Plus, she does editing on the side. She’s not a member of my family. I don’t send it off right away. Except for editing comments, no one reads what I’ve written until it’s completed and edited to within an inch of its life. The edits and feedback from another author are invaluable and save a lot of time in the editing process, so I won’t give that up, but I do find it annoying that people ask all the time to read my stuff. Go read something else until I’m published. Because I want to make a few bucks when you buy my book! HA!

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    • Well then it’s not really sharing as you write, is it? And I’m glad no one wants to read what I’m writing now. I’d just be annoyed. And I don’t know any writers who I’d want reading my work anyway. Cause I haven’t read their work to be comfortable enough to have them telling me what’s right and what isn’t.

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  11. Guilty as charged.

    I *try* not to do this, but sometimes…it’s just…I don’t know NICE to have someone right there going “Keep it up, girl. You’re really onto something here.” Even if it’s total bull shit. Sometimes you need to be bull-shitted or else you feel like you’re just playing at writing and will never amount to “jacksquat!” (I hope you read that in a Chris Farley voice, because it was meant to be read in a Chris Farley voice ;))

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  12. Ha, this was my relationship between me and my best friend in high school. I wrote a lot of novel-lengthed fanfic and she was always the first one to see the new chapters. It was good motivation at the time, but not a practical way to write a real novel.

    Now that I write original fiction, I wait until I have an entire *decent* book finished before I show anyone. No one sees my 1st/2nd drafts at all. I only show my book to people when I know it’s not finished, but there’s nothing specifically I can think to change. From that point, we can really put our heads together and figure out how to improve it.

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  13. I’m with you on this; it’s definitely not a productive tool. My BFF always wants my MS before it’s done, and she doesn’t care that it’s not perfect (I do). Sometimes I let her read the Beta reader copy, but we both know she isn’t capable of giving constructive criticism. So it’s fine to do, as long as you are objective about the process and your expectations.

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