Monday, July 11, 2011

Sharing Your Writing - Becky and Book Covers

At what stage do you share your writing with other people? How carefully do you choose the people you share it with? How soon are you able to handle - gasp - feedback?

I ask because I sometimes struggle with sharing my writing.

As some of you may have heard, because I may have had it skywritten over Dublin, London and several American state capitals (hello Bismark and Albany!), I finished the second draft of Becky recently. I wrote the final 15,000 words in three days, with one day off in the middle for good behaviour. 

I did this because all Nanowrimo winners last year were given a code to get a free proof copy of their novel printed and shipped by CreateSpace, and I wanted mine. My coupon expired on June 30th. I had to submit my book by the 29th. 

I remembered this on the 25th. At 10pm.

You don't read this blog for my smarts, do you? 

During those days of frantic writing (all both of them), I took the ending of the book in a few new directions. I had already decided on the substance of my ending, but the final climax changed quite a bit, some new things happened, and I killed off a character that I miss now and regret killing.

I was writing at such a pace that I didn't have time to go back and ponder whether or not something worked. I just kept going and hoped.
When I finished, my feelings about Draft Two would be best described as 'raw'. I was afraid that if I re-read it, I would become so ashamed that I would have to hide under my bed, potentially for weeks. I submitted the text to CreateSpace for my proof copy, designed a cover using their templates (no time to design one of my own) and decided that no one but me would ever have to read the contents.

But then I realised that, while I may have had no idea about the quality of the ending, I had enjoyed writing it. I liked the characters, and I wanted to go back to it. I wanted to start work on Draft Three and I wanted to start soon.

I needed feedback, so I sent it to a trusted friend and asked that feedback not be sent til I asked for it. As it happened, I asked for it as soon as my friend had finished reading, and it was really helpful. I've since asked for more feedback from others.

But I needed a few days to get some distance from what I'd written. 

On the other hand, I know writers who can share as they write. 

Where do you fall on the spectrum? And why? Do you love feedback as you write so you can incorporate suggestions early, or do you need space before you can think critically yourself? Share :p


  1. I'm like you, Ellen. I need to be "ready" to hear the feedback. I used to give people work as it was it progress, but I no longer do that. I guess I need to write what I need to write, then I listen to hear what people say so I can fix what needs fixing.

  2. 15,000 words in three days! Wow!

    Unless I'm struggling or really unsure, I wait until I'm certain about what I want it to do and where it's going. Then, I find I'm in a good place to judge if things needs to be changed or if I'm happy with where it is.

  3. I am working on a first draft right now and it is such a mess that I can't bear the idea of anyone reading it. On the other hand, once a book is "finished" I am reluctanct to submit it to becomes very personal then.

  4. That's a lot of writing in a few days!!! I'm impressed :)

    I don't share at all until I've gone through a few drafts. Too scary... and nobody needs to be exposed to that! :)

  5. Karen, I am the same. I need to write it first without fear of censure or criticism - otherwise I'd never write anything! - and then once it's done, I like to get opinions so I can make it better.

    Thanks Talli - but I never said they were good words! And I think about 1,000 - 2,000 of them were pulled from an earlier draft, to be strictly accurate :)

    That's a good point, knowing where you're going with something is definitely important before getting outside opinions. Otherwise I imagine they could derail me quite badly.

    Laura, there is that awful balance when you're less attached to the book, it's too rough to let anyone read, and by the time it's polished it's become quite personal! It's difficult to find a happy medium in there.

    Thanks Jemi! You're right, the world is scary enough :)

  6. I'm like you, I struggle to share my work. I'll only let people look at it when it's as near excellent as I can make it. What makes me grind my teeth is when I'm editing a chapter on the bus and the person sitting next to me starts peeking at it. I mean, I ask you? Nosy or what?

    It's messy, has red scribblings all over it but instead f reading their Evening Standard newspaper they're ogling my WIP. Grrr :o)

  7. That's a whole lot of writing in a very short time!

    I'm coming to that point where I'll have to have feedback on my MS.


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