I’ve hinted at maybe doing a post about the ups and downs of sharing your work in progress in my NaNoWriMo update from last week, so I hope you are up for some insights on this topic! First off, I want to start by pointing out that I don’t mean to say that everyone should share their WIPs, whether it be in public or in private. I understand that not every writer feels comfortable, ready or willing to share their story in the early stages and that is perfectly alright! You do you and always follow your gut! This is just my personal experience.
Writing was always a lonely task to me. Of course, I got to meet all these wonderful characters for the first time and they miraculously somehow came from my brain, which was always incredibly hard to believe. I feel pure excitement whenever I dive into a new story, but at the same time I just want to share that with SOMEONE out there. Every time, I kept a story to myself, I started to procrastinate hard at some point until I was lacking motivation to continue at all. This is clearly an issue concerning lack of discipline on my part, but I found a way to counteract that by sharing my work as I go along with friends, family and sometimes even strangers. And when I say I share my work, I am not talking official beta readers or critique partners, but just people who may or may not comment on what they just read. Obviously, as I mentioned in my opening statement, this is not for everyone so here are a couple pros and cons of the experience:
- The absolute best motivation I have ever found to continue writing is the constant encouragement of strangers as well as friends who have read and loved my words. They want to know how the story continues, so I want to keep providing them with entertainment and answers to questions as well as new mysteries as I go along. I truly adore everyone who has ever taken the time to read what I have written. It’s not perfect and I appreciate that they stuck with me nonetheless.
- Sometimes it’s hard to stay objective as a writer. I encourage all my readers to give me suggestions if they notice something that isn’t quite right and I have realised that my first instinct is to get defensive (but that’s the beauty of being online, you don’t have to respond asap and that feeling can go away), but then I can see the value in having a fresh set of eyes on my writing. You don’t HAVE to take all their suggestions into account, that’s not the point of it all, but it’s good to hear different opinions.
- Sharing your work publicly involves a lot of trust, so you have to find a way that makes you feel safe in the process. There are various platforms that allow you to share your stories to a broader audience, like wattpad, where I uploaded all my current chapters for Arcadia and Dreamer. (Update January 31, 2022: I no longer have a wattpad account!) There are guidelines among the community members that forbid copying content, but obviously nothing is ever foolproof. My current #witchyWIP isn’t on there, not because I have made bad experiences, but simply because I didn’t want to share it with all the world for now, but rather an exclusive circle of friends. I chose Google Docs for that, as it still allows people to comment and has great options for security purposes. It’s just a matter of finding the right platform that works for YOU!
- Waiting for someone to read your work and actually react to it can be torture! People have lives and they don’t just wait in front of a screen to read my very random story updates. However, the longer the wait to hear from just about anyone is, the more the questions start to plague my mind – What if no one likes it? What if they don’t feel like they can tell me if they don’t like it? What if I shouldn’t have written that part? What if … None of that necessarily has to reflect on your story though. Sometimes it’s just a matter of lack of time and it’s also difficult to hold a reader’s interest if you don’t continue the story regularly. Like, I completely understand that some people might not want to wait a month for a new chapter.
In the end it all comes down to what feels right for you as a writer. Maybe you don’t want share your work until you’ve reached draft 15, but maybe you need that encouragement and interest from the outside to get through writing draft 1. Whichever type you are, I just know that I personally love nothing more than getting reactions be it in comments, people screaming at me in my DMs (always welcome by the way) or just sending me gifs and aesthetics for chapters. It’s what keeps me going and that’s why I am so grateful for all the people who take the time to read my work!
This is it from my little writing insight this time! Do you sometimes share your unfinished work? How are you all doing on your WIPs? Who is still going strong on their NaNo project? Let’s chat!