1. lozzerwrites
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    lozzerwrites New Member

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    Putting myself out there

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lozzerwrites, Aug 12, 2016.

    Hey everyone!

    So I’m in the process of writing my first book & have been for about a year now, and I’ve really got my teeth into it so far. I’ve written a good 2/3 of it and I’m super proud of it - it’s rewarding and really bewildering to look at it and think that I created something like this! I’m having some trouble with the next step though. How do you get over showing your work to other people? I write with my boyfriend sat next to me a lot, and I always click away from the window or start doing something else when I feel him looking over. I’ve also not sent any of my work to anyone despite having offers to proof read and give feedback! I’m just terrified people are gonna think it’s dumb, it doesn’t make sense, it’s not enjoyable, all of the regular things!

    I know it's a fairly irrational thing to be worrying about, because if I want to stand a chance of getting published or being recognised for my work then I'm going to just have to bite the bullet and put it out there. But I just have a lot of anxiety about it! This book is like my baby, and I guess I'm afraid of it being torn to pieces in the big wide world :')

    Can anyone offer some advice on how to get over this speed bump? Thank you!
     
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  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate to be the one to break it to you, but...your work probably sucks!

    Now, the good news...everybody on this site wrote work that sucks at some point.

    You write, you read it back, you get other people to read it back, you come to realise that they're not jerks when they tell what sucks and why, that they're only trying to help, and then you take what they've taught you and re-write it so it doesn't suck...as much.

    Rinse and repeat.

    After about a million words, you'll start to see something like a decent piece of work emerge, something that you can show without cringing. (Or, maybe not. Maybe you'll never get the feeling that it's good enough; plenty of artists in all forms feel like that.)

    In the short term, this forum has certain requirements before you post anything for critique (basically, spend two weeks here, make twenty posts, and critique two pieces in the workshop - nothing like as tough as getting your driving licence!) so get those out of the way, and then post something to be critiqued. Possibly the start of your book (not too much - more than 2,000 words and you'll turn a lot of people away) or perhaps something you've written specially in order to save your magnum opus. You are as near to anonymous as you can be on this site, so you won't need to blush if I pass you in the street!

    The big thing is to not try to cheat on your two critiques. Pick a couple of pieces, read them, and work out why you like them, or why you don't. (Be polite in how you say what you've got to say.) If you can work out what's wrong with somebody else's work, you've got a better chance of working out what's wrong with your own, and putting it right.

    Good luck, and enjoy the journey!
     
  3. Dr. Mambo
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    Dr. Mambo Active Member

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    I don't know if every budding writer experiences this, but I did. My solution was to edit, edit, edit some more, re-edit, and continue to edit until I felt like I'd finally gotten my work to a point where it was ready for others' eyes. Then you edit again after someone reads it and critiques it.

    Eventually, once enough people read your material and tell you they like it, you'll have a better idea what you need to do to get your writing to its "finished" or "readable" state.

    *Edited for SPAG
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well the only thing you can do is your best (plus a ton of editing). Perhaps having it Beta read before moving onto putting it out on the market, to get few different perspectives on what you have. By doing this you get feedback on the good/bad in it, and can adjust accordingly. As long as the Beta readers are being genuine with their findings in your work, this will be helpful. Also recommend doing a lot of proof reading and making sure everything is the way you want it (SPAG), and that it flows well with a decent plot and so forth.

    Good luck, and don't worry what others think about it until you have allowed someone a chance to read it. Besides it can't be all that bad. :)
     
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  6. Edhla
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    Edhla New Member

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    (Hi, I'm new...)

    I don't think there's any easy way to do it. You just do it. It usually hurts, and you crawl away and lick your wounds for a bit, and then eventually you go back and write/submit some more. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I had a very bad experience at university where a creative writing teacher mocked my work so mercilessly I virtually stopped for years. (This was not harsh-but-fair critique. This was writing "OH, PLEASE" and "DO YOU THINK I'M AN IDIOT?" on my work. How am I supposed to edit and improve based on those observations?) Anyway, I felt very badly burned. The turnaround came when I started writing fanfiction online, under a pseudonym. It gave me a safe distance from my work: Anonymous, just-for-fun, can't be sold no matter how good it is, etc. Through that, I got amazing writing advice and encouragement and my confidence came back.

    I'll say, though, that the best and hardest thing is to stop thinking of your work as your baby, and start thinking of it as your craft, your work in progress. :)
     
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  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It was scary for me too but now I can't remember why. Not very helpful.

    You just have to bite the bullet and do it. Would it help if it was a stranger who you'd never have to see or talk to again if they didn't like your work? If so, people here will critique privately (I've done it and would again). Or would you rather it was someone who trust, like your boyfriend or a friend?

    It might help if you write something new, something you don't care about, so it won't feel so personal if someone doesn't like it. Maybe a 1,000-word short story. You can post it in the workshop and get feedback on your style, which will be applicable to your novel, but it doesn't expose the piece of writing you're most close to.

    But however you do it... you have to do it, if you want to go anywhere with writing. :)
     
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  8. lozzerwrites
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    lozzerwrites New Member

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    Thank you! I edit pretty much every day; it's my go-to task when I'm experiencing a block or just don't feel like creating anything new that day. I just go back over it and edit what I can.
     
  9. lozzerwrites
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    lozzerwrites New Member

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    Thanks! It probably would help if it was critiqued anonymously, yes, just so that the writing is being judged for what it is, rather than who's written it. My boyfriend barely reads at all so I think it'd be pretty wasted on him :')
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    On the other hand, people who don't read much tend to be incredibly impressed that you [general you] can string a sentence together. So if what you need is a confidence boost, he may be the perfect person. ;)

    Of course, the problem is that you don't take the marveling of friends and family to heart, because writers are much more critical than 'lay' readers. But... confession time... I have one beta reader I use every time because she adores every single thing I write. Her feedback isn't useful because it's all positive, but I do it for the ego boost. And because she loves to read. :D
     
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  11. lozzerwrites
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    lozzerwrites New Member

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    Haha... Maybe you're right :D I think that's what's holding me back sending it to family. I know they're going to be impressed and supportive, even if what they're reading is genuine rubbish :')
     
  12. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Uhm.. just to put in my five cents with regard to 'family'. Depending on what you write you might want to be careful here. I am very sure that if my family would read what I write I would rapidly catch a lot of flak and probably would have a whole lot of troubles down the road ;) So I don't tell them - it helps that they don't speak english quite as fluently as I and wouldn't be able to appreciate even if the topic would be to their liking :D

    I stick to Alpha/Betas here in WF and I have found that they dissect, but only want to help my writing. Granted, the very first times with anonymous readers were not pretty but... it helped my style enormously. So jump in and take your lumps - I promise your writing will be all the better for it!

    Welcome to the madhouse :D
     
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  13. Edhla
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    Edhla New Member

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    I can't get my family to read my work. God knows I've tried - they outright refuse!
     
  14. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Consider yourself lucky then and find friends here in WF - we have some marvelous guys/girls here :)
     
  15. Edhla
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    Edhla New Member

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    It's a mixed blessing, really. The only critique they'd be likely to offer is "Yay" "Yuck" or "Meh" (and it's almost a sure bet I'd get the latter!)
     
  16. lozzerwrites
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    lozzerwrites New Member

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    Yeah, I'm keeping it from the majority of my family for that exact reason until it's published (?!). I'm going to stick with keeping it peer-read by anons online I think. It seems the more helpful option even if people are just going to be brutally honest. At the end of the day I think it's what I need!
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some ideas:

    - Write stuff that isn't part of your book and submit that to the Review Room or other non-family/non-friend review. You're likely to be less invested in it, and therefore more able to absorb the criticisms.
    - Submit something a little bit old. When the criticism comes in, you can tell yourself, "Well, I'm better NOW..." but, again, absorb the criticisms.
    - Maybe start with something experimental. While you still want to put your best into it, if it's a different voice, different POV, nonfiction instead of fiction, different something, you can tell yourself that, of course, you're new at that, so it's OK that you didn't fully succeed.

    Basically, I'm offering ways to rationalize any failure away, so that your mind will be less resistant to understanding the details of that failure. :) Once you're at the point where you can take criticism comfortably with these defenses available to you, you can start dropping the defenses and requesting reviews on things closer to your writing heart. Edited to add: And if you did absorb the previous criticism, and applied it to improve that close-to-the-heart work, then that work is benefitting from the process, even before it's exposed.
     
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