As a writer, I’m always working out my current WIP(S) in my head, but rarely do I talk about them with other people out loud.
The MFA creative writing program changed that a lot. Part of the program is to have a completed novel to graduate and throughout the course, through various assignments, you would be discussing the inner workings of this novel with both professors and peers.
I thought I would hate this, but I thrived on it. Gaining feedback on something I was just beginning work on was surprisingly helpful, encouraging, and motivating. Within the parameters of the MFA program I felt safe enough to talk about my story.
Outside of an MFA program, I’m not sure.
WHERE DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE TALKING ABOUT YOUR WRITING?
Is it at home, with friends and family? Writing groups you’ve joined and grown confident in? What about online? Online is where I have the most concern. Online, in it’s own way, is more immediate. You can type up and post instantly, from your computer or your phone, anything that comes into your head. The good outcome, and in some cases, the bad outcome of that is that online can also provide instant feedback – from anyone and everyone.
SOMETIMES, A WRITER DOESN’T NEED THAT.
Feedback can be great, but when your WIP is in its fragile infancy, feedback, even good feedback, can be almost like a killing blow. I believe stories need time to gestate, just like babies, before they should be talked about and examined and looked over.
As a writing and book blog, I sometimes feel the pressure to write about the stories and novels I am working on. I sometimes feel the pressure to produce something, a story, a piece from my novel, and yet, at the same time, I know that these stories are not ready to be talked about and examined and looked at.
PICK A TIME THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU, NOT OTHERS.
In the end, your writing process and how you navigate through that writing process is a personal experience. Your rate of production, how you present it (if doing it yourself), and when, are choices that should be made by you, the writer, and no one else. I’ve found that when I present a finished story is closely connected to the writing process of that particular story. I sometimes want to rush presenting the story to the world, and I find that my writing process when I am rushing to get the story finished and out there becomes disjointed and out of sync. All of the sudden, the quality of the story changes, the way I write it changes, and my writing itself changes, and not always for the better.
YOU CAN BE AS ARBITRARY AS YOU PLEASE.
Other than reasonable deadlines from publishers, and your employers, if you are a professional writer or freelance writer, you have the right to reveal your own creative works on your own time.
Sometimes, life gets in the way. From personal mishaps and unexpected hardships to your WiFi going out because of a storm. Sometimes, you aren’t up to the task mentally, and instead of doing it half-assed and just because you feel like you have to, you wait until you can give 100%. Sometimes, the piece isn’t ready just yet . . . still not ready . . . not quite right . . . until it’s finally ready to be presented to the world.
My point is, allow yourself to be as arbitrary about how and when you share your writing as you please.
BUT DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK.
Dithering about the right time to present your work can be a procrastination technique just as much as a valid question to be answered. If you find yourself archiving a finished piece for no other reason than that you’re afraid of the reaction, or nervous about presenting something that’s perhaps different than what you’ve written before, that may have more to do with fear than making a decision about timing.
SOMETIMES IT WON’T BE A SAFE SPACE
Releasing your writing out into the world can be a scary thing no matter what platform you choose. Especially if you’re sending it off to be published, that platform may not always be a safe space. Unfortunate, but it’s reality. But don’t let time pass you by as you search for a safe space to publish/present your writing. Sometimes, the space that becomes available to you to do so doesn’t feel like a safe space, but you’ll find that you can navigate it anyway, publish anyway, and continue to write, anyway. Because, at the end of it all, you’re passionate about writing, and eventually, whatever feedback comes your way, whatever sort of comments and critique, you’ll still find the courage and the right time to present your work.
Even as I’m writing these words of encouragement to you, I’m also writing to myself. A reminder, to not let time pass by when I can present a finished piece, where I can write my stories, where I can take that opportunity. A reminder to be confident and bold in my writing, even in places where I feel insecure otherwise. I can do this. I can write. I can publish.
You can too.