1. Medazza

    Medazza Member

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    When to tell people you are writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Medazza, Aug 21, 2017.

    So I'm at 80,000 words and the end is in sight, probably got 30-40,000 to go but I know where I'm going. Speed of writing is increasing. But nobody knows I write! It's my secret. I write when everyone is asleep, on the train, during lunch.

    At some point I need to tell my wife, she will either be impressed or kick off that I've spent so many hours when I could be doing chores

    So at what point do I spill the beans?
     
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  2. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    Haha oh that is amazing. I never managed to keep it a secret. I love that you did. I'd keep going if I were you, get a publishing deal and then get everyone a copy of your book for Christmas.

    I told everyone as soon as I met them, I would talk about my ideas with work colleagues and friends. Eventually my partner told me to shut up until it was finished, because she* wanted to enjoy reading it and not have all the spoilers. Then a year later, people would see me and say, 'have you finished that book yet?' Meaning well, but made me feel like a failure.

    * I really wanted to take a leaf out of deadrats book here and refer to my partner as she/he, because, well why wouldn't you, except I felt it would just confuse my post.
     
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  3. Moon

    Moon Phases of the Moon Contributor

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    When you get published. .....That's a joke.

    I'd tell people when the work was complete so you can beg or trick one of them into being your beta reader.
     
  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    When it's done, maybe? I don't know. I mean, I told most of my friends + partner when I first started - most of them are also artists so we talk about art junk a fair amount. I mentioned it to my brother near the time I finished, because it was at this point that it started aggravating me and I had to fume to someone in person, hahah.

    Whenever you want to, really.
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    How'd you pull that off? She isn't wondering what you've been doing with yourself for all those hours?
     
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  6. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Active Member

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    I expect the answer is different for everybody. At the moment, I can't make it public knowledge, since my employer is not fond of hearing about moonlighting, so... I probably won't reveal this until I actually quit my day job, which is maybe never.
     
  7. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    My husband and daughter knew about the writing thing from the first time I started back in 2010. They were and continue to be my numero uno support team, bless them.

    I told close friends and family as soon as my first novel was accepted for publication. "So last year completely unbeknownst to you, I spent about 12 months writing a big gay romance novel, and I just got a contract from a small LGBT publisher." I actually told my former dance troupe right after we performed at PrideFest, which was frikkin' awesome. :D

    Acquaintances and co-workers have no inkling of my secret life as an award-winning author of gay romance.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    I never show my work until I've had a few edits. I'm not saying it's bad to do so; I just don't do it. I guarantee the moment you spill the beans, the person you tell will beg to read it. Are you ready to let someone read your stuff? Then again, the wife might be hurt that you kept this secret. Your situation makes me want to write a story about a guy who doesn't tell anyone. The family finds out when they go to a book signing, and there he is. Hello.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
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  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    My writing was never a secret. I people ever bothered me to do anything, I'd just be all, "go away, I'm writing." I keep my manuscripts so myself because close friends and family, at least my close friends and family, don't make very good critics, so I don't think many of them know I've actually made money off of it. This is alright with me, though, because most of my family is pretty religious and they always get weird when there's subject matter they have some sort of religious opinion on. I've had some people get upset at me that I'm writing instead of paying attention to them, but of all the relationships I've been in, my writing has not been the largest issue. From my experience, she'll probably be more relieved that you're hiding your writing and not hiding an affair or some such.
     
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  10. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Dianne, sit down. There's something I need to tell you....

    I am a writer.
     
  11. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    There are two conflicting schools of thought:

    -Telling people your goals will keep you accountable to those people, and motivate you to finish.
    -Telling people your intent gives a sense of accomplishment that can keep you from needing to finish.

    I'd say figure out which category you might fall into and then go from there.

    Also, there's the whole 'living a lie, I don't know who you are anymore, how could you keep this from me???' arguments, but they're not as important. Probably.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I enjoyed reading this thread.

    I tried to keep my own writing a secret, even from my husband. At first, I wrote while he was at work. I worked days, and he worked nights. We shared one computer at the time, so that worked out fine. However, eventually I had to own up to what I was doing, when, on days off, I still wanted access to the computer at the same time he did.

    This little issue was resolved quickly, when he bought a new computer and I took over the older one, which was still in fine shape. This all happened before we got on the internet (in 1996) so it was a really good writing period for me. No distractions. Even after we got the internet, there were still fewer online distractions than there are today. And I could get up and write at 4.30am, without disturbing him, which was the best time for me to write.

    I promised my husband he could read my story when it was done, and he was fine with waiting. I did actually work on it every day, so I didn't have to explain why it wasn't finished. He knew I was working my tail off on it.

    I kept my writing secret from friends and family until I was nearly finished. When I finally told people I was writing a historical novel, I was swamped with requests to read it. I was flattered that they'd take the interest in what I was doing. (Unfortunately this also meant they all got a copy of my very worst first draft! I have fewer people interested in my writing now! :))

    There is no doubt that telling people you're writing puts pressure on you. As @sprirj mentioned, you'll be pestered constantly about 'is it finished yet?' And you have to keep saying no, and they keep asking why, and you feel like you should be working harder, etc. It also means that as soon as you're finished, you feel more or less obliged to let everybody read it who wanted to. This also can be a mistake. Everybody gets the first draft, but you will need readers for subsequent drafts as well—and you want fresh eyes for that. And also because certain people, such as @The Dapper Hooligan mentioned, might not be a good target audience, despite their wish to see what you've been up to.

    And what if your story doesn't turn out, or you lose interest and stop writing? (No of course that won't happen, but....) You don't owe anybody your story, but they will make you feel as if you've let them down if you quit or stall, which, as sprirj said, can make you feel like a failure.

    Writing is personal, at least at the start. It shouldn't be made public until you're ready to deal with ALL the fallout, including dashed expectations of others or even active dislike of what you wrote. If you really like what you wrote yourself, you'll be better placed to regard the feedback as helpful, and be more willing to work on any flaws. If you aren't sure of yourself, or think you 'hate' it and that you're a crap writer, then your first beta reader response can knock you off course—maybe permanently. Make sure you're confident enough to take their response for what it's worth, and be willing to improve, not quit.

    If you are learning to cook you don't invite four couples over for dinner before you've mastered at least a few dishes, do you? Well, maybe you do ...but if you mess up too badly, they won't be back. Better to wait till you can cook a complete meal to your own satisfaction, before sharing your creation with others.

    @Medazza - Your wife should understand if you explain that you weren't so much hiding your activity from her, but that you weren't sure you could actually write a story and you needed to be able to fail in secret. I presume she'll understand that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  13. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    Me? I don't know.

    I told my family after a few months, back when I'd started on my first fantasy story. I'm still not sure if I did the right thing, because now my mom pesters me. I mean it's nice to hear that she's taking an interest in my life, but she doesn't understand and I don't want her to understand. This is mine, and mine alone. I grant, that's a trifle an irrational reaction.

    Now, whenever I meet someone new, I don't talk about my writing anymore. I'm not finished, nor do I have something substantial to show, nor do I want to explain with words, or justify myself. The only time I'd talk about writing is, if this person is a research resource :p and then I'd probably feel creepy-crawly as hell. But how else to justify my questions? Anyway, so far that hasn't happened so I'm in the clear :D
     
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  14. Millamber

    Millamber Senior Member

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    For me, from now on, I don't tell anyone outside my wife, my best mate, and a small group of friends I have that also write. The wife/best mate will ask me, discuss ideas etc, but the group of friends I only tell if we meet up and someone asks. I won't be like 'Oh I'm on this' etc.
    I kind of feel it puts too much pressure on and like others said, I feel bad if I have an idea they really liked, and I was writing well, but then I lose the mojo and stop writing.

    I think the next time I come up with an idea that inspires me to write a lot, I'll keep it closely guarded until I atleast make some significant progress on it and actually have something to mention.
     
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  15. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Active Member

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    I think you're referring to Gollwitzer et al's 2009 study about how announcing identity goals can satisfy the ambition in and of themselves, attenuating motivation dramatically. It's a valid concern. (Link: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/gollwitzer/09_Gollwitzer_Sheeran_Seifert_Michalski_When_Intentions_.pdf)

    This distinction may help with choosing an approach: Identify whether we're announcing an identity goal ("I am a writer now,") versus a measureable non-identity goal ("I have committed to writing 16 hours per week in August").

    The former type is the one Gollwitzer showed has a high risk of demotivation. But publicizing targets (eg: weight, exercise, hours of study...) is still associated with a higher chance of meeting them.


    And! I am personally experimenting with a hybrid model. I write under a pseudonym (Kevin McCormack is not my 'real' name), so I established a website/blog of my goals and targets under that pseudonym. That way, the commitment is out there, but my coworkers, friends, and family don't know.
     
  16. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    i'm keeping my mouth shut for now. i've struggled with the understanding that what i write is just a small building block of what will eventually be a massive tower of good stuff and crappy stuff. then i'll have to chisel that down, dust it off then do it all over again after catching the dumb mistakes. as a novice writer who has no timeline in mind, it's easier to stay mum.

    my brother knows i want to write, and he asks me a lot about how it's going. i think he figures it's a linear process, and i'm a little embarrassed to say anything now since it looks like all talk.
     
  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Everyone knows I'm a writer. There was never any big reveal. People who know me know who I am and what I do. I don't really understand writing being a secret.
     
  18. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Well for me, it's not that I write but the content of such. My writing contains very explicit sexual content, and I definitely don't want my co-workers or elderly relatives back in upstate NY knowing how incredibly dirty my mind can be.
     
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  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    I'm trying to think of the most random thing a coworker might announce in the middle of work... I think yours might take the taco.
     
  20. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Okay, so here's a funny story. My grandboss (boss's boss) likes to mess with people, though all in good fun and I'm not sensitive about that kind of thing at all. Right after my first book came out came out, she asked me to come into her office, looked at me very seriously and said, "Do you have anything you'd like to confess?"

    Now, you have to understand that I'm a rockstar at my day job so there was nothing work related I could come up with that I might be in trouble for. Data's always right, clients are happy, I get along with almost everyone, yadda yadda yadda. So inside my head I'm screaming OH MY GOD OH SWEET BABY JESUS THEY KNOW ABOUT THE GAY PORN WHAT DO I DO

    Then she gets this huge shit-eating grin on her face and says, "Just kidding! I brought you in here to tell you you're getting a bonus!" I managed not to pass out with relief but it was a close one! :dead:
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  21. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    I'm totally stealing that scene... thanks.
     
  22. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    When you have something to be read. I don't tell many that I write, just the ones I rely on to read and help.
     
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  23. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Active Member

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    Probably me just being picky with the wording, and the OP can clarify, but I don't think she was asking about when it's time to announce once "is" a writer, but rather, when's the time to expose one is writing (be it a hobby, personal therapy, aspiring profession, or successful profession).

    For me, I'm not a writer, in that I don't make a living off it. But I'm writing now, so I can leave my job. To my current employer, that's evidence I deserve one of the thousands of pink slips they hand out annually. I'm not ready yet, so I'm keeping it anonymous until the revenue matches my day job.

    In contrast to Laurin Kelly's situation, I doubt my employer would care about the content. What they care about is that I'm ratcheting down my unpaid overtime and other efforts to climb their career ziggurat, in order to shift attention and resources to another career.

    Point being: some people have a pretty good reason to keep it on the down-low, if only for awhile. Day job risk being one of them.

    Judgmental relatives would be another. I have a friend whose parents think anything artistic is a colossal waste of time and evidence of incompetence - he's not ready to have that confrontation right now.
     
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  24. Wreybies

    Wreybies Arroz Con Admin Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not something I've ever felt I needed to announce. My hubby occasionally peeks over my shoulder at my writing. He's the best hubby there ever was (seriously, he's a terrific guy) but he's got a double filter to deal with, one being a language barrier, and the other being a cultural barrier where the kind of Fantasy and Science Fiction I write just doesn't have much purchase here. I usually just get a funny little raised eyebrow that says you're so weird, and then a little peck on the cheek that says, but I love you anyway.
     
  25. Veleda

    Veleda New Member

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    So interesting to see how many others have the same issue. I didn't tell my hubby that I was working on a story until about 3 months in. Generally we are very transparent with each other and I knew I was pushing his trust by trying to hide my little project. So he's in on the secret now and makes a wonderful sounding board, if not the best beta (I worry his biases cloud his judgment, though he is getting better since I insisted that I needed a gentle critic, not a cheerleader).

    Beyond that, my family and friends either believe I hate them or am wallowing in the muck of a severe depression. I never call or spontaneously get together, and when I do talk to them, I'm more quiet and withdrawn than I used to be, because I have nothing to talk about except the world I've been building in my head and on paper. I think they are getting pretty worried. What's worse is that I don't know if I will share even when its done. I, too, have addressed some pretty colorful themes from sexuality to religious ideas that don't mesh well with my family's. If I was open about my writing, I can only imagine how much more exciting holiday dinners would be. "What do you mean, God doesn't care?!?! Sacrilege!"

    So I let them believe that I just sit around and stare at the walls. Its better for them to shoot me concerned glances, than to explain why my manuscrupt vilifies certain early religions.
     
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