The art of writing – learning to share

As a person who spent 20 years writing without another soul seeing it, I think its fair to say I am a self-proclaimed expert on the difficulty of sharing.

I think this is probably something many writers struggle with at first. That transition from our innermost thoughts being just that, to allowing them exposure to the light of day and the critical assessment of others.

It’s daunting, I get that. Really, I do.

10410610_931654273528561_2198993264378937219_n Why do you need to share? Why do you write?

This is the first question you need to answer before you go any further. If you have no aspirations to publish or simply love to write but have no desire to do anything more, then you should feel no burden or need to share. For a lot of my twenty years writing I was exactly this, happy to write, no burning need for it to go anywhere or be seen by anyone

I guess I got to a point where I felt, why not do something more? Why not let it out there? See what happens?

Yes, I did want to publish. Yes , I did want the satisfaction of sharing what I had done, and hopefully someone (even one person) saying yes, this work resonates with me.

You will never became a michelin star chief if you don’t let people taste your food.

A friendly first

There are two ways that I know of in making this first step. The first is to find a ‘friendly’, someone you know and trust to be gentle, but who at the same time, will provide some valuable feedback on your work. That’s a big ask, and not everyone is this person. So take you time, choose carefully and be brave. Critique Partners

The second way is to share anonymously. Wattpad for example. There are plenty of other great sites where you can put your work up for feedback from the masses. And the best thing is – you don’t need to tell anyone if you don’t want to!

An editor

There are all kind of editing options out there. Developmental editing for example will assist in story structure, copy editing for grammar and punctuation, or proof reading if the story is almost there and you need a final check. Editing v Proofreading

Generally, this is a service you need to pay. I used a copy editor but she also offered some amazing insights into my story in regards to areas I may need to explain further or adjust. I learnt an insane amount by having my story professionally edited.

Receiving feedback with grace

You don’t always need to dip your hand in your pocket though. Beta readers and/or sites like wattpad are full of avid readers who are more than happy to tell you what they think. This can be invaluable, but, you need to be mindful that they are not all master writers, and not all their advice needs to be taken. I would say that generally when someone gives you advice you just know if it’s something valid and valuable or not. I usually read it, let it sink in, and then read it again a little later. You can pickup some amazing nuggets even from what may at first seem like a very negative review.

10945022_933085073368785_9184225261499281719_nI think I am pretty good at receiving feedback now, an age thing maybe. I find that I actively want the input, just tell me straight and don’t sugar coat it. The last thing I want is someone being too subtle and me coming away thinking a passage is great when it’s not.

Without feedback you will never learn or improve

This is the truth of it. Yes, reading books about writing techniques, blogs, and online articles are all very helpful, and there is no doubt they will be able to help you to improve. But! There is really no substitute for ‘just doing’ and receiving feedback. In my opinion this is the only true way to learn and grow.

I spend a lot of my day helping people improve the quality of their work in a field which I am now the expert (no, it’s not writing, I wish it was). I give them guidelines to read before they start, but encourage them to jump into ‘doing’ as soon as possible, Then I encourage them to let met me review it with them asap, and then send them off to do it again. Each time I review they make less mistakes. Each time I review I offer new insights into my suggested changes and explain why. It’s a well proven pattern and in a short period of time there are almost no errors. Their work quickly becomes quality, and they don’t need  my insights any more.

This is a wonderful feeling as a teacher. And a proven training technique. We don’t often learn by reading something once, or even twice, and we don’t learn without any feedback at all. Just imagine trying to learn to play the violin without a teacher to guide you! Learning is an iterative process, which by definition means you have to do it more than once.

The concept of receiving feedback is part of our earliest childhood and follows us throughout our life.

So what’s holding you back?

BiXiMA-CUAEk3DtSource https://twitter.com/tomgauld/status/443008838791213056

If you are anything like me, and you struggle with the very idea of sharing, ask yourself why you write and if you are ready for feedback.

A few encouraging words can provide a world of motivation!

So, if you haven’t shared before, why not jump in. You might be pleasantly surprised 🙂

 

Divided Serenity out now on all Amazon stores, and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Divided Serenity Book Cover