Posted in Blog Post Museum

Shy Writers: Sharing Your Work

musemThis post is part of a blog museum, archiving old writing from a previous blog.

 

In the previous two posts of this series, I touched on the fears writers have that may keep them from sharing their work and how to deal with the different kinds of feedback and criticism. This time around, I want to focus on answering the original question, which was how to work up the courage to display your writing to people on the Internet. Some of the replies answered along the same lines as I would.

proudwriterFirst, I would start small. Find someone you trust to be your beta reader, someone who is going to provide you solid feedback that helps you to improve your work. If you can find more than one person and have a small group of writer support, that would be great, too.

Believe it or not, after revising my work, I feel more confident that it’s in better reading shape than before I’ve made any changes to it. Having feedback from other writers or readers helps you to polish your work. And once you’ve polished your work into something you’re proud of, it’s not so scary to post it to a larger audience later.

If you have the opportunity, try to take a writing workshop in your community or in your school. This was a mandatory part of my writing degree and it really helps to work up your confidence. It really helps to learn that most of the other people taking the class are as nervous as you are when it comes to sharing writing! Plus, the act of giving and listening to other writers’ feedback helps you to develop an eye for better self-editing and makes you a stronger writer over all.

Join or create a writer’s critique group online. This is similar to the writing workshop idea. I’ve considered founding one of these in the past, but have just lacked the time to get something like that off the ground.

Once you have a bit of confidence, try something a little larger.  Join a writer’s online forum that allows you to post and critique work or ask for help. This can be a place to step it up some by sharing your writing in a writing section of a forum for only the forum community. Once you get feedback there from multiple people, and continue honing your work, you’ll find yourself becoming less and less nervous about showing your work.

Join public RP groups if you enjoy role play online. This helps you to write and share your writing with other people and become less nervous to display your real writing over time. Basically, anything that makes you flex your public writing muscle will over time give you confidence.

Just keep in mind to choose your editors, groups and forums wisely. As with anything online, there will always be a few people who come around just to hurt other people’s feelings and cause drama. This is when you have to go back to determining if an  individual’s feedback is worth letting your feelings get hurt, or is genuinely something that can make your writing stronger.

Q&A

What other things have you done to work up your courage in showing your writing online?

Do you have any experiences with writing groups, and if so, any suggestions on how to find them, what to look for, or what to be careful of?

Posted in Blog Post Museum

Shy Writers: Dealing with Feedback

musemThis post is part of a blog museum, archiving old writing from a previous blog.

feedbackAs I stated in the previous post, one reason writers may be afraid to share their work is a fear of rejection or criticism. While no one wants to hear people bash in their writing, the truth is, feedback, editing and proofing is all part of the process. That doesn’t mean all feedback is created equal, though.

Listen to any professional writer, or even your writing professors, and they will all tell you that to be a published writer, you have to have thick skin. Pretty much every published writer (even your favorite author) has been rejected — sometimes many, many times — before they found a place that accepted their work. This has, up until now, been one of the most difficult parts of the publishing process. I say “up until now” because with the dawn of the digital era, writers can now skirt around needing an agent or a publisher and go directly to online eBooks and print on demand.

To learn and grow as a writer, you have to be able to disconnect from your work enough to see the value of other people’s feedback. You have to be willing to scrap what doesn’t work, edit what does work, and polish things to a gleaming shine. This sometimes means making difficult choices and going against your emotions. It sometimes means having the courage to let other people into your world so that they can help you make it better.

Types of Feedback

There’s a few different kinds of people who give feedback, some more useful than others.

The I Like It. These are people who probably really do like your work, but don’t know how, or don’t feel qualified, to offer suggestions for changes. They try to be a good friend, though, and encourage you to keep going by telling you what you hope to hear – that your work is good and someone likes it. However, that doesn’t help you make it better. If you have friends like this, don’t get too frustrated with them. Just recognize they’re probably not going to be the ones to go to if you want serious suggestions. (Though sometimes if you ask a few “why” questions, or for very specific feedback, you can get a bit more out of them!)

The Trollface. These are guys who never like anything and rarely have anything nice to say. While there might be something useful in their drivel, I’d take it with a grain of salt and not try to sift through the garbage too much. Chances are, they’re not trying to help and only trying to bring you down.

The Nitpick. These are people who can get annoying, but actually may have good points for you to consider. They often pick about every little fault they find (which can be annoying), but some of these faults may be good questions to ask yourself about your story and characters. If you deal with a Nitpick friend, insulate yourself and know that you don’t have to change every little thing that someone else suggests.

The Balanced. These people are hard to find! Not only are they honest about what they do like (and tell you why they like it), but they also are honest about what doesn’t work in your writing, and are not afraid to tell you. They are really trying to help you make your writing a better piece and tend to offer you good suggestions from a reader’s perspective.

In the end, you as the writer must decide what is best for your story.

At the same time, don’t dismiss an idea just because it hurts your feelings. Try to be open to ideas that other people offer you without losing your own identity. Writers have to create a feedback filter and learn to identify what will make the work stronger in the end. Writers also have to create soul shields and not allow the writing sprit to be crushed when you deal with people who simply have nothing better to do than criticize.

Approach sharing your writing as a learning experience or another form of brainstorming. Let your writing be fluid and always ready to change, never set in stone.  Don’t take feedback personally and learn to identify people who honestly want to help. Those are the people you want to keep sharing with – just make sure you let them know how they’ve helped you and how you’ve implemented their ideas!

Don’t let fear of criticism be the thing that keeps you from opening the doors to other people. If your favorite authors have lived to see many rejections, know that you’re not alone. It’s those who keep writing despite the rejection that eventually make it.

Q&A

  • Do any of your favorite authors talk about their experiences and rejections before becoming published?
  • What sort of feedback helps you most in your writing? Do you keep an open mind when editing your work?
  • What sort of feedback do you give other people?
Posted in Blog Post Museum

Shy Writers: The Fiction Author’s Fears

musemThis post is part of a blog museum, archiving old writing from a previous blog.

 

In a previous article, I asked if authors had any concerns about the move to digital publishing. Quinis asked a very good question that I wanted to examine in a full-blown post series:

How did you get over the hurdle of showing your work to anyone and everyone?

forever-aloneI don’t know if most people around Sygnus realize how terribly shy I really am. Maybe it’s because I’m chatty in comments and posts online. But the truth is, I don’t talk about my creations, writing or art with people who aren’t a part of the website community. Most people IRL have no idea I’m a writer, artist, webcomic/webmaster/geeky gamer girl (well, if they stumble upon this blog, I guess they know now). I’m terrified to show someone face to face my stuff . But posting things online? Not so scared. I can’t tell you why.

Writers (especially shy ones) have it hard. On one hand, we create things with the express idea to share our creations with others. On the other hand, we pour our hearts and souls into our characters, plots and creations, so much that we fear displaying our work should we have to experience the disappointment of rejection. This rejection can be in the form of other people’s criticism (even helpful criticism can be scary sometimes) or the form of having no one pay attention at all!

So let’s take a look at what we’re afraid of and how to face these fears!

The Root of All Fears

So how do you get over the hurdle of showing your work to a vast audience online? The first thing I’d do is ask yourself WHY are you afraid of sharing your work with other people? What do you feel you have to lose?

Completely normal fears about sharing writing include:

  • My writing sucks (and no one will like it).
  • My writing is unoriginal (and no one will like it).
  • No one will read it even if I post it (Forever Alone).
  • People will think my ideas are stupid (and no one will like them).
  • People will think I’M stupid because of what I write (and no one will like me).
  • OMG… I just re-read what I wrote a month ago and now I think it all stinks (and I don’t like it)!

Let me tell you a secret. I think most writers, even writers you think are good at the craft, have been hit (hard!) over the head with one or more of these self doubts. I have. Every single one of those thoughts has afflicted me at some time or another. You’re not alone! 

Our writing reflects a deep, sometimes secret, part of ourselves. It takes a lot of courage to open the doors and let other people in. We don’t know if others will understand our stories, our characters, and ultimately us. That’s a scary thing to face!

Another scary thing to face is criticism, even when it’s helpful feedback. In my next post, I’ll talk a little about how to deal with criticism. Then, I’ll work on a post that gives some tips in breaking the ice and working towards overcoming the fears that keeps us from sharing our writing with others.

Q & A

  • Have you ever felt any of the above fears as a writer?
  • Do you have additional fears or doubts that you can add to the list?
  • What did you do to overcome these feelings?