1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    This is scary stuff, writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JosephMarch, Apr 18, 2015.

    Not writing. Sharing what you've written. I wrote a book last year, and I love it, personally.

    But I have never shared it or even told anyone about it. Until a few weeks ago, when I started attending a writer's workshop. We had to share our story idea. To actually talk about it to perfect strangers! It was so weird and sort of scary to speak about it out loud.

    Then, just this week, I told my husband about it. He had no idea that I had written anything. I just blurted it all out, and of course he asked to read it. To read these thoughts, that have only existed in my mind and then in tattered notebooks I have scrawled them into...

    It is such a deeply personal thing, like baring your soul, in a way. Something completely created by your own brain out there, to be judged by everyone.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So are you letting him read it?
     
  3. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Yes! It is actually helping me to finally get it typed. He is going to read a chapter at a time as I type it.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your story is hand written?

    I couldn't write without a word processor.
     
  5. jaebird
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    jaebird Active Member

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    I used to be incredibly secretive about my writing. Wouldn't let anybody see it. Wouldn't even let people know I was writing stories, because they'd want to read them. It felt just like how you describe it and it's still daunting now, but it gets better.

    And I tried writing a novel by hand and made it about two pages in before I gave up on that idea. :)
     
  6. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    I have hand written my first few, I am using voice recording now. I have a typist I pay.

    as for the op think of it as art, you are using writing to express a view.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I love writing by hand. It's very visceral and it slows me down, forcing me to think more clearly and thoroughly about how I'm phrasing my sentences. Also, because I have to type it into a word processor before I can do much with it, writing by hand forces a revision. I just know that before I can let anybody else see what I've been writing, I have to type it up, and that makes me reread and revise. I think the finished product is better if I start writing the story by hand.
     
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  8. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Yup, by hand. I can't stare at a blank word document and create that way. I am old school, and I just need that pen and paper experience.

    As for my hesitation with people reading it, I guess it stems back to my schooling. I always loved English class and did pretty well in high school and college. That was a long time ago. But no one in real life runs around doling out As when you do something well, and I am so affected by what people think, unfortunately.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would never dream of showing people what I've written till it's done and I've edited it myself. Of course if I'm having difficulty with a passage or something, I might put it on the workshop for advice. But I had my novel nearly half-written before I told anybody I was writing at all. And that was my husband, when I explained why I needed a computer of my own. (He was cool, and I got a really good one.)

    I don't understand people who feel the need to show their work a page at a time. It's just inviting interference, not help.

    Very intrigued by @minstrel's point about a handwritten MS forcing you to edit. I never thought about it that way. Me, though, I couldn't write at all till I got a wordprocessor. And I edit, edit, edit edit editedit....hard to stop, really.

    Mind you, I do my notetaking and idea scratching by hand.
     
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  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    As usual - YMMV! I can totally believe that some people want to keep work to themselves until it's polished. But I also know that some people benefit from getting feedback as they go, helping them to stay on the right track and stay excited about their work.

    (I don't mean to sidetrack, I just worry about someone reading some of the absolutes that get thrown around on writing boards and thinking that they're doing writing wrong.)
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Fair enough. I reckon I made that sound like an absolute, didn't I? :) It is an absolute for me, and I do worry about people who don't seem to be able to progress without constant feedback and suggestion. But if it works, it works. It's the end result that counts, isn't it.

    Solving problems and creating a story that works is the writer's 'job,' in my opinion. If a writer relies on somebody else to keep them 'straight' or help them to work their way out of problems all the time, they are missing out on acquiring that skill. It's like never taking the training wheels off your bike, or deciding for yourself where you want to ride it to. But that's just me.

    A constant need for feedback at every stage of writing can create MORE self-doubt in a new writer, not less. Creeping along, expecting approval and critiques every time you finish a chapter ...and getting people telling you everything they think you're doing 'wrong' and what THEY would do instead, if it were their story, has got to be a confidence sapper. It would totally put me off writing.

    I love getting the full whammy of critiques and criticism after I've 'finished' because then I know what my story is. If my readers didn't get my story, they tell me so—and then I change the writing so they will get it. However, I don't want to write their story. I want to write my own. If I was already wavering and unsure of myself, their early interference would completely throw me off track.

    But again, that's just me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
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  12. Ozzy
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    I am terrified of letting people read my stuff. My mother doesn't count, because she thinks I'm brilliant. I haven't let my spouse read it, even though that's where I get some of my ideas. I wrote the entire thing on paper, with a pencil, and as I type it up, I fix so many things. I can tell people about my general idea, and ideas usually sound great, it's the writing that I don't think is good enough. I'm also terribly anxious, so when I think about where I'd like my writing to go, I have an anxiety attack just thinking about what happens AFTER it's not mine anymore. Then I think that I don't want it to be anything but mine. It's a very strange place, my head.
     
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  13. Kaz2015
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    Kaz2015 New Member

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    The only people I have allowed to read my stuff are two fellow writer friends. My mum knows I write, but I have never allowed her to read anything I have written. A lot of my friends don't even know I write!

    If I'm going to have any success with writing, I'm going to have to release my work out to the world, but the thought of that is very scary.
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I do understand that outlook. Once somebody else reads it, it's out there. I remember having a litter of tin kittens after I sent my MS to my first pair of beta readers. It was really scary. And the feedback wasn't all positive either, not by a long shot. But they were good betas (one is a writer himself, the other is a part-time editor) and their advice was incredibly helpful and honest. I saw merit in all of their suggestions, and hurried to make the changes they recommended because the suggestions made sense.

    I think it's important to choose your first betas carefully. Make sure they (a) know what they are doing when it comes to reading AND writing, and (b) will take your work seriously and offer constructive suggestions to help you achieve your goals. They can be friends, family, teachers, acquaintances, etc. Just pick the first couple of them carefully. After that, you'll have a better idea of what you've created, and you can be more confident about taking or rejecting advice.

    Yes, it's scary. But it's so wonderful when somebody out there 'gets' (and likes) what you've written. They don't have to think it's perfect, but the first time you have a discussion about one of your characters, and you realise this other person has invested in your character's fate, you will feel like a real author. And you will be. Every author had to start somewhere.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
  15. amorgan3
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    The question I most fear when out with friends that do not know I write: "What have you been up to lately?" And then the thought of all the time I've spent writing or thinking about writing holds my tongue captive until I spit out something cheap.

    Or if I do say I have been writing, the next, even scarier question: "What are you writing about?" It is almost embarrassing to try and explain what you are writing about. It seems so stupid to stumble so hard on this basic question, but I have not really come up with a packaged one liner to move this conversation along. If I go the literary route, the underpinning expression that my story illustrates, people look at me sideways. If I talk about the surface-- characters, setting, genre-- it sounds like I am a crazy person.

    Maybe I am over exaggerating. :dead:
     
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  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, that's an awkward question, especially when it's followed by 'when can I read it?' Urkkkk....

    I never did find a way to describe my writing. I think I just said it's a long novel set in the American West. The "long" worked really well, because it implied it would take ages to finish!
     
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  17. Ozzy
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    Ozzy Member

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    I just sent my unfinished manuscript (it's easily edited to add for her) to a family friend that is a published author for some basic ideas. I'm looking forward to her feedback, but I'm hoping I also get "Give me more" in addition to helpful critique
     
  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't show anyone any of my raw stuff unless they write themselves. Too many people don't understand the creative process. They're used to seeing a finished novel, not a novel in progress. Also tact and opinion don't always go hand in hand. I can take it from a writer but from a reader you just want to bounce your draft off his/her head and say I'd like to see you do any better. I'm not saying they probably don't have good advice but there's something irritating about it.

    I hate the ole - what are you writing question. I usually stall them off with a plain one word answer - fiction - and if they persist I say stuff like literary fantasy. They don't know what to make of that and back off.
     
  19. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    I actually find that having a group you can bounce ideas off of early is important. I have 2 buddies I used to do stand up with and we regularly work shopped ideas together. It helped immensely. we still meet a couple times a month just to review the stuff we are working on. That input really helps steer me when I'm otherwise losing focus or getting stuck on something.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The way I got around this when I first started writing and taking my stuff to the critique group was to say (and mean it) right off the bat that I didn't know how to write. That way I wasn't embarrassed by the quality of the work.

    Now I do know how to write but I still let people know if I'm unsatisfied with a chapter or even when I am satisfied, that it isn't a finished piece.
     
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  21. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    How do you keep a poker face in a writing group? That's what probably has stopped me from joining one. I'm no good at a poker face. I love the fact that I can absorb the critiques in private without anyone seeing my scowl, frown, eyeroll, smile, and laughter.
     
  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As far I'm concerned, I am not yet published (in fiction) and therefore I do know *know* how to do anything. If someone has advice or insults, I will listen.
     
  23. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    I've only show my writing to complete strangers or people who are well aware of my other strengths. Allows me to keep my ego out of it and take criticism better. Never shown my wife though. If she didnt like it she would blow a gasket knowing I spent all that time writing rather than mowing the lawn etc...
     
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  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm published, and I don't know shit. There're always more mountains to climb.

    OP, maybe you could build up to this by writing something shorter, something less personal. You could let people read that, first, and see how it goes?
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Poker face?

    It didn't take long to learn that if the critique was one you didn't agree with, you just smile and say, thank you. More often than not I get useful critiques. Even if I don't agree completely I can often still take some threads from the group and weave them into an improvement for my work.

    Sometimes you have to try more than one group before finding one that works.
     

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