Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sharing My Work?

I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension. ~ Norman Mailer

I've discovered something about myself: sharing my work in pieces for critique destroys the creativity process.

I've been posting bits of a novel I'm revising, as I revise it, in my writing group. The folks in there are wonderful and they've given me some great advice.


I can't seem to move forward any more. I thought this problem was restricted to my first drafts. So, I stopped sharing the first draft of things until the entire novel was done. But, it appears that this is true of all my writing. I have to wonder, then, just what the answer is.

Perhaps revising and then sharing the entire novel with a trusted writing friend would be the answer? That's an awful lot to ask. I've done that once, and received great advice (thanks, D!) that I'm still working through.

Maybe just posting bits that I'm struggling with?

Honestly, I don't know what the answer is. But I've come to the conclusion that, for now, I need to revise in private as well or it will never get done. Once this first revision is completed and I'm comfortable with how the story reads (I'm making some big changes, and that may be part of the problem -- it almost feels like writing a first draft all over again!), I can share it in pieces again.

All I know is this: what I'm doing now isn't working for me. And that is terribly frustrating.

What do you do when you're editing? Do you share your work in pieces, or do you have one or two writing friends to whom you give the entire novel?


Charity said...

Protect the work. First and foremost. In fact, I do the opposite. I post the stuff I am sure of. And, oddly, even good comments can derail me for a couple of days.

I started to write and send out shorter pieces without running them past anyone. When I actually sold them, it gave my confidence a boost that I could write/revise/sell without constant input from a critique group.

No one can catch everything, and that includes cps, as great as they are. You need a certain amount of self-confidence and self-reliance as well.

anno said...

Oh, I agree with Charity on this one: protect your work and nurture your ideas until you are certain they are robust enough for outside nourishment. Too much advice too early on withers even the best.

Gay said...

I am quite the opposite. I post regularly to a writer's group, and my work wouldn't be nearly what it is without the benefit of the group's help...

BUT, and this is a HUGE but... the biggest help has come from two members of the group that I've formed an alliance with, and one of them in particular. We exchange 5000 to 8000 words every 4 to 7 days (depending on how long it takes us to critique each other's work, and to revise our own based on the critiques, plus get the next number of words ready). One of the gals brainstorms together with me for our respective novels, and we've gotten to know each others' characters particularly well, plus we have a really good sense of the plot arc (in a general sense) that the other has in mind.

Some parts of my novel I will run past her 4 or 5 times (or more) until I've got the details hammered out, and she'll do the same with me (if she needs to)--and we've also discussed major plot revisions, and/or ways of upping the ante, or making things more interesting, or twists that we might want to add--or ones that are unnecessarily complicating things that perhaps we should remove. Having someone that you can bounce ideas off, and that you can discuss the book's overall structure with--someone who knows your characters and who can say, "Yeah, that totally works--that character would DO that!" or "No, that won't fly. Maybe if you..."

Then, having a writing buddy is at its best. They bring out the best in my writing, because they aren't satisfied with good enough--it has to be perfect... and I feel guilt-free about asking for their help because I am available to do the same for them at all times. It's a mutual-aid society.