Every writer faces the moment when they must allow others to read their work. This has never really been difficult for me. In school we shared our work and took critiques from our peers to better our work.
The other day my brother-in-law mentioned that he had yet to read my book and then quickly asked if I was ready for people to read it. I said he was welcome to read it but they way he asked got me to thinking. What about other writers. Is it difficult for them to share what they have written?
As I thought about it I thought to back to when my good friend and critique buddy, Sara, first told me she was getting ready to publish her first book. I thought wow, someone I know is going to publish a book and suddenly, it was possible. That was all it took. So I asked her if she needed someone to read it and help her edit. She happily emailed the prologue and I emailed her what I had done with my book. Upon reading her prologue I was suddenly afraid she had read what I had sent her. Her writing was better than most published authors I had read. Then I read her first chapter and felt much better. She had not changed her first chapter much since the second or third draft. Since I was on my second draft at the time I realized my writing could and would get better. Simply by rereading and editing myself and also by letting others read it and give me suggestions.
I can understand how difficult it can be to hear what is wrong with something you have worked so hard on. Which is why I have a critiquing tip for you all. For every thing that could be better in a persons writing tell them what you liked or even loved about it. Then they not only have an idea of what is not working. They know how to tackle the problem.
If you are a fantasy writer and you have to create an entirely new world, it is so important for you to bring someone else in. I have this problem quite a bit and so did Sara. Because we know all the ins and outs of the worlds we are writing sometimes we forget that the reader only knows what you tell them. Sara told me had an excellent way to help you while you are writing. Remind yourself on a regular basis that the reader only knows about a third of what you do.
Pick your critique buddy wisely. I have read a lot of blogs and tweets about writing groups. The ups and downs the people who are really not helpful and the ones who are. One thing that I found interesting is that everyone I read had something in common. They all agreed you should never, ever, have a close friend or a family member critique your work. The reason this is so amusing to me is simple. I currently have two people helping me. My sister and my best friend. The reason these two work so well for me and why I work well for Sara is because we are brutally, and I do mean brutally, honest with one another. I actually have a little bit of guilt because of how honest I was with Sara about the first part of her book. I have to say though I am reading her changes in it now and it is amazing. Which is what I keep telling myself when she reads my newest pieces and they are sent back to me with more red than can be found in a slasher movie.
I will say though when I’m feeling really down and thinking my work will never be good enough, I always send a piece to my mom. She knows how to nourish creativity. After her responses I can write successfully for quite a while. In fact I think I need to send her some pieces soon.