Like many writers, I have a complicated relationship with sharing my work. The point of writing is for people to read it, right?
In the recent past, I’ve found myself stuck in my writing, mostly because I want to share it immediately.
We’ve all been there, the thrill of a new story, the honeymoon phase. This is going to be the best thing you’ve ever written! Everyone is going to think you’re a genius!
This was especially true when I was writing fanfiction. With fanfiction, you post your work online and you immediately get comments and suggestions. Fanfiction is quite addicting that way. Posting to Wattpad is very similar – you get a lot of positives, and not much criticism.
When you write original fiction, you can start to crave input. Bringing that piece to a critique group won’t get you glowing praise. You’re going to get critique and suggestions of how to improve things, which help you improve as a writer. But it’s fun to hear a reaction from your critique group members as they read – unlike posting your work online, you get to hear readers laugh at the funny parts, gasp in shock or horror, and see them get excited about your story.
or not to share…
For the past 12 years I’ve participated in Nanowrimo. Part of Nanowrimo involves sharing – you tell people what your story will be about, you share your word count. What you don’t share is any of your actual writing. You pass through the honeymoon phase in a week or two, then enter directly into the pits of hell where you are certain that your novel is the worst thing you’ve ever written and should never be seen by human eyes.
This year marks the first time I can remember that I have completed Nanowrimo and immediately begun writing another new novel. Writing a novel outside of Nanowrimo or Camp Nanowrimo that isn’t part of a series means that I am currently experiencing the honeymoon phase and I can slow down and enjoy it.
I haven’t said much about this mystery novel, and I’ve only shared a small piece of it with my teen writing group because it came out of a writing prompt I assigned to them. The piece was more character development than part of the novel, so it doesn’t really count.
This novel is like my baby. I want to nurture it, protect it from outside threats, and make it beautiful before presenting it to the world. I don’t want to tell anyone what it’s about or share the first chapter with my critique group, as though talking about this novel is going to somehow prevent me from finishing it.
And now that I have chosen the path of not sharing, I’ve realized first how much I have been sharing my work, with fanfiction and Wattpad and my critique group, and how I thought sharing my work would lead to accountability and help me to finish, which is not the case.
Two examples: I started sharing Past Midnight on Wattpad, hoping that some comments and interest from readers would give me the impetus to finish it. I added about 20K words, but then my interest in it waned again.
And I began working on Blood Countess again, taking in chapters to my critique group as I worked on the middle-end of the book. The critiques made me wonder if my issues with finishing this book didn’t lie in the beginning, and then the entire project felt overwhelming and I stopped working on it.
So which will it be?
I’ve decided that for this project, I won’t be sharing any part of the first draft until it’s complete.
Since most of my novels are written during Nanowrimo, where I’m able to quickly complete a first draft, I’m realizing that this is how I need to operate all the time. If I didn’t actually finish the novel during Nanowrimo? I need to finish it before I start posting it or bringing it in for critique (*cough* We Live in the Dark *cough* Into the Mist *cough*).
Who knows if not sharing will lead to a complete novel in the end. I might try is an accountability partner, or use my bullet journal to hold myself accountable in a similar way to what this writer did. What I will definitely do is enjoy my super secret first draft.