1. ophelia
    Offline

    ophelia New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0

    FRIENDS - do they help or hurt your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ophelia, Jun 19, 2008.

    I've had several occassions where some of my friends have made fun of my writing. "This is so cheesy" or "What a nerdy thing to write about" or they quote a line from my writing jokingly. Sometimes it's funny, but I also feel that overall it kind of hurts.

    Alot of the time, when I ask my friends to look at my writing, even if it SUCKS they either won't know any better, or will just be too nice to say anything. I have friends that don't know the different between a period or a comma when in comes to writing. I have friends that would never say anything but "good job" or "I love it" about my work, and feel bad after actually giving constructive feedback.

    My writer friends, though, they are great. Sometimes we edit each other's work and just talk about writing. But sometimes they, too, make fun of my work or won't be honest with critique.

    I dunno.. what do you think?
     
  2. Kratos
    Offline

    Kratos Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Maryland, United States
    Yeah, I know what you mean. Some of my friends laugh at me for reading for fun and stuff. That's what these sites are for, I guess, meeting friends who love writing as much as you do.
     
  3. ChimmyBear
    Offline

    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    In the arms of the man I love at home in NC.
    I have to chosen to share my work with only two other people, who I know understand me and my writing and I know they will be sincere about my work. I don't just hand it over to someone for feedback.
    You might want to simply stick with a couple of your writing friends, who are serious about the art and want to be a contribution to your work.
     
  4. Charisma
    Offline

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    2,704
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    I think that friendship becomes hindrance in evaluating the true quality of the work. I try my best not to do that with my friends, but I definitely don't expect strangers to do the same for me. I feel I have very honest friends who are willing to debate on the 'story' or 'plot', rather than other factors (since they are not writers, only avid readers). They love to read my stories, and honestly answer my questions, but to know the quality of my writing - here's my only choice: WF.org.
     
  5. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Ophelia,

    I think you answered your own question with your stated examples (or experience).

    Just as you might consider certain friends to study with (since they can be serious) and other friends to attend a sporting event with (because they have an interest) while others would be right to go to a musical or opera with...what friends you share your work with should carry the same weight. Will the friend enjoy it? Are they the type that will be honest? Are they the type that would be very hesitant to hurt your feelings.

    However, how one defines a friend makes a difference. An acquaintance, or someone you hang out with on occasion, to me is not the same thing as a friend. Someone who ridicules you and your writing to the point that it hurts, I would question as a ‘friend’. I don’t know your situation or relationship with those discussed, so I am only posing items to consider.

    Terry
     
  6. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    My friends are always very forthcoming with me, if they like it, they say it, if they don't, they advise me against working on it anymore. I guess it depends on who your friends are really. But also, have confidence in your own abilities, if they don't like it ... then they might not like the things you write about. Not everyone you will be acquainted with will like the same things you do. I have friends who like Football and think Dan Brown is the literary event of the last 1000 years. But I still listen to what they think.

    Just trust your self, if you think a story has potential, then good! Work on it untill you are happy with it. If you don't think one of your own tales is any good, go back to it after a few weeks, and you'll be suprised how much better a story can be if you redraft it.

    Friends are a funny lot and can suprise you, I have friends who don't like/never heard of the likes of Lovecraft and Poe (My main influances) and come up to me and say they enjoyed my work. I'm also a great fan of Thomas Pynchon and i've had people come up to me and say 'Have you read Gravity's Rainbow?' and I've been unaware of them even knowing about Pynchon.

    Also, if your friends are just laughing at you, instead of giving you constructive critique, then **** 'em ... don't show them your work again.
     
  7. Mr Sci Fi
    Offline

    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Earth
    I think they're a little bit of both. My friends and family always think everything that I write is so great, even though I know differently. I like to show my work to my family first and know that at least my writing was worthwhile to somebody, then throw myself into the grinder by seeking more objective help in critique.

    Friends are good confidence boosters, but unless they are fully objective, they can't help you grow.
     
  8. Rebekkamaria
    Offline

    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    La-la-land
    I've learned over the years that only writers and true lovers of words can understand the art of writing. I never share my work with people who don't appreciate the art form.

    I have many friends who write. Some of them are my betas, some of them are just people with whom I share this love for words. I've written many reviews over the past four years, and I believe I've never manage to discourage anyone. I'm very honest. I say directly and clearly if there is something wrong with the work (and I always try to state that it's merely my opinion). I also point out the good things, even when it's hard to find them.

    I've received horrible reviews from people who don't understand what it means to write, who think that it's easy and anyone can do it. :) Some of these people have been cruel without meaning to be, some have been cruel because they can. And sometimes, I've let people down with my work and they've felt the need to tell me that in colourful ways.

    I don't know if I'm even answering to your question. :) My friends are the reason why I'm here today, why I'm able to write original fiction. Some people have hit me hard with their words, but I have recovered from it every time. Well, there was this one time when I stopped writing for six months because the critique was so hurtful that it rendered me wordless.

    I have a deal with my husband. I don't show my work to him before I've written 20 pages. Sometimes you need to let the seed grow. If you let someone rip it from the ground before it's ready...there will be no beautiful flower for anyone to look at. :) My husband is my worst critic, but he won't be able to hurt me after I've worked with my words long enough.

    Don't let anyone ridicule your work. Choose your audience carefully.
     
  9. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58
    First - In the first quote, Lemex hit the nail on the head. How many times do we have to emphasize the expression, "KNOW YOUR MARKET"? If a "friend" is not our intended market, then what the hell should we expect when we allow them to read our manuscript?

    Second - Friendship is not...I repeat...NOT an adequate basis for evaluation of writing. There are only two groups of people who should read your unfinished work; fellow writers who can offer valuable suggestions about everything from SPAG to plot, and members of your target audience who may know nothing about writing style, but they will be receptive to the premise of your story. ALL others are off limits!

    Hurt feelings? Friends make fun of your writing?

    You can not draw any meaningful conclusions about "friendship" by these results. Let me offer an example.

    I spent almost twenty years fishing bass tournaments at the amateur and local-pro levels. In one tournament, I caught a lifetime best bass...almost twelve pounds! I won the Big Fish award. My picture was taken and a fishing journalist wanted all the details of how, where and what it was like to catch such a magnificent fish.

    When I got home, I shared the wonderful news with my wife (and best friend) who responded, "Well, that's good...isn't it? You know, I don't really understand why you guys get so excited about outwitting a creature with a mind that is nothing more than a brain stem!" She laughed at her joke. My ego deflated like a balloon that slipped from the fingers of a child before it could be tied shut.

    I didn't take offense at my wife's lack of empathy. In fact, it was a good lesson. Someone who loves me (we recently hit 36 years of married life) can fail to share my enthusiasm about a subject without it being a statement about our marital "friendship". Same thing goes for writing. Do not expect your friends to invest in your writing as your do. Its not fair to them, and it is YOU who is disrespecting the friendship if you expect something from them which is not in their nature to give. Lord knows, my eyes roll up in my head when Sue tries to tell me about new quilt patterns she is trying out.

    Sometimes, teasing and joking is the response people have to being put under pressure. Its not meant to insult. In other cases, teasing or ridicule may reflect jealousy, or it can even be a poorly formed expression of approval. You just don't know what the underlying motivation is for such comments, so don't subject your "friends" to the uncomfortable pressure that inevitably accompanies "looking at" your writing.

    .....NaCl
     
  10. Samswriting
    Offline

    Samswriting Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    4
    I have yet to have anyone bash what I've written but as a whole I'm selective about what i share, if I chose to share with a larger audience I make it something that is harder to bash and make sure its known to be what it is.

    The reason I came here to WF, is simple, I've had a few people tell me "you should write your really good" but they are friends, their statements and judgments by the very fact they are friends, dictate they cannot be truly critical, I need a place to taste the bitter bite of someones critique that could care less who I am as a person or how it makes me feel. Someone that can say. "ok hold up Sam, that's crap you know it I know it the world would know it" or "wow that's pretty good, now go back and re-edit these area's that are rough"

    It will probably take a while to get there. But I love writing, and its time to go beyond my comfort and work to improve what I have. My friends certainly cannot help me there. Though without there support likely I would not be here.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    my standard advice on this is to never show your work to family or friends... they won't be able to give you neutral enough feedback and it can even lead to rifts in relationships...

    imo, the only truly neutral and most valid feedback will come from total strangers who are knowledgeable in re what you're writing...
     
  12. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    I had friends when I was young who would sometimes laugh and mock the things I was interested in--not so much my writing as what I wrote about. I felt they didn't do it to be mean, they honestly did think those things were silly, and perhaps they felt I'd outgrown those interests. They were wrong, and it really hurt, though I never confronted them.

    None of my other friends were interested in my work. They simply didn't care. I think we were more friends by circumstance (same place, same time) than because we had things in common, and I wouldn't have made friends with them if we hadn't shared classes together.

    I've had only one friend in my life who cared about my writing, and we would collaborate and pretend things together. We shared characters and worlds and stories. She was the only person I really "clicked" with and who I felt really understood me and what moves me. She grew out of it, though, and moved away. We tried keeping in touch but it faded out when I realized she was no longer the person I'd known. I miss those times so much...I've never made friends again with anyone who cares a bit about my work. In fact, when I think about it, I believe she was probably the only genuine friend I ever had. To this day I'm still futilely chasing after the hope that I'll make another "writer friend" who isn't just interested in writing, but who is interested in MY writing, and I'm interested in their writing...seems fated to never happen. *sigh*

    So I guess I haven't had enough experience with "friends" to know if they've helped or hurt my writing. That one friend, she influenced my work today more than she'll ever know, and that's what's saddest--she wouldn't care even if she did know. :(

    I guess it's best that we lost touch. The story I'm currently putting my life into owes much of its existence to her, though.
     
  13. Samswriting
    Offline

    Samswriting Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    4
    OUCH Tehuti that hurts, I can relate more than I'd like to. I am largely a loner, and find that I cannot share my writing with those I should be able to, its not "safe" if that makes sense, and if it does I'm sorry.

    Truly I just don't think a friend can be analytical enough to simply see the words and judge them... A friend that cares about YOUR writing is great for self esteem and enjoyment but they would have to be very very good to actually critique you properly. Still would that we all had a friend that truly cared not for writing but OUR writing. That is how I came to find my voice at all, a friend, that inspired words from me I didn't know I had. No matter how many times I put the pen away and stop, I find myself coming back, wanting to open up the barriers to the worlds within my head.
     
  14. Amor
    Offline

    Amor Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't share my work with my friends because they are way too nice about it. Even if my writing totally sucked, they would still say that it was awesome. And that's not what anyone asks for when they request some critique.

    I'd say just share your writing with your writer friends who will truly appreciate your work rather than either make fun of it for no explained reason or not give you any workable feedback at all. Or if you really do want to share your writing with those friends, then maybe tell them what you told us. They might understand where you're getting at. Or maybe not; I'm no psychic. But honestly, just stick with your writing friends if sharing your work with your other friends doesn't begin helping you. I hope that what I just said made sense to you, and that I wasn't just blabbing on about friendship and all that jazz.
     
  15. Night
    Offline

    Night Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2008
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In an imaginary world.
    I share my writing with my friends somewhat unwillingly, actually. I keep mostly everything I write in a solitary notebook, and my friends and even people who are just acquaintances love grabbing it when I'm not paying attention and reading it. In some ways, this shows me that what I'm writing is keeping interest, and I'm happy with that. But they aren't at all writers themselves, so any criticism they give is always positive. "Oh my gosh, this is SO amazing." "Wow, this one is really pretty." "This one makes me think a lot about life." So I usually post my work at various forums if I find it worthy for criticism.

    I've only had one writing friend that I actually shared work with (We did write a few things together, as well) and I really trusted his opinion above all others because he was always honest and critical and still nice about it. Unfortunately, I haven't shared much with him lately. . .anyway, this almost makes me want to start an online Writing Friends Club or something. <.> That would be kinda cool.
     
  16. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    I strongly disagree with you on this. I show my work to my family and friends, and my partner, and they always tell me their thoughts and if they feel there is something wrong with what I am writing. We don't always agree, but my family and my friends, have really helped me with my writing. They know my abilities and push me further than I am capable of. Well my mother and aunt do anyway.

    All my friends are into creative writing as well though. They all write poetry or fiction, or for magazines and news papers. So we are always helping each other out. I've never really experienced friends picking on my writing...so for me, it just seems that your friends are either arrogant and have no respect, or they have no idea about your writing.

    I am sure that you enjoy what you do so don't worry about anyone else. Keep writing and enjoying it and there are plenty of people around the forum that are more than willing to help you out with what you are writing anyways. :)
     
  17. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    I dis-agree maia. I have always found my friends and family to give me just as much advice and feedback on my writing as the members of this forum. Maybe I am just lucky though....
     
  18. wildflower
    Offline

    wildflower Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    3
    No one knows I write. I wouldn't want the false praise. I think those who are closer to you would either not want to hurt your feelings or just be blind to any of your writing flaws
     
  19. SonnehLee
    Offline

    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    6,112
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Far away from home
    I share my work with a lot of my friends now, and although i rarely get good feedback, it's not really what i'm after from them. Writing is a hobby, and I love to share it with them. To me, it'd be like collecting something and then hiding your collection where no one can see it. They read it for pleasure, i write for pleasure. I always accept any feedback, be it positive or negative, but i've accepted that most of my friends love me too much to tell me what they didn't like.

    Although, i do have a close friend who is avery critical person who does most of the reviewing for me. She is really good, and not afraid to tell me what sucks.
     
  20. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, torana, you're just lucky... my advice stands, for pretty much everyone else...
     
  21. SonnehLee
    Offline

    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    6,112
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Far away from home
    Well, you don't really know that. I mean, maybe it's true for you, but i bet everyone has at least one friend/relative capable of giving useful feedback.

    But i could be wrong. I don't know all the writers of the world, so you can never really know for sure. Nothing is definite.
     
  22. KP Williams
    Offline

    KP Williams Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    My place
    Every one of my friends is big on reading and small on making comments pretty. Every single time I show any of them a piece of my writing, I get back a healthy dose of criticism, often about things I never even knew I did--that's how I got out of the habit of always tagging actions onto dialogue, for instance. I know I never have anything to worry about when asking them for a critique, because they always give sound advice. And if they think it's terrible, they're not likely to mock me for coming up with such a stupid idea. :p So yes, friends definitely help my writing.

    Then again... I only have three friends.
     
  23. Amarantha
    Offline

    Amarantha Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    My rule for myself is not to show my writing to anyone, be it friends, siblings, parents, whoever. I have only one friend who writes well and another who likes to think she does, so I'm usually worried that potential "critics" will judge it to be something it's not since they don't understand how much thought and emotion I end up putting into my writing. I'm reluctant to offer it over to my family especially, because my obsession with my story and my lack of explanation of it has become a joke around them. I just imagine they'd treat it trivially, and they aren't the most in touch with the elements of writing I'd need help on.
     

Share This Page