Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Selectively Keeping My Mouth Shut about My Writing

As I’m sure you all know, since I’m all you think about, I’m participating in Preptober to get ready for next month’s NaNoWriMo. The other day, I was reading the book I’m using to guide my prep work and these lines stuck out to me: 

Don’t talk about your story to others. Talking about it dissipates the urgency to write it…Carry your story with you like a delicious secret.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this. At first, I thought, “That’s BS. I should be able to talk to people about my writing all I want, and I do!” But then I realized that I’m incredibly tight-lipped about what’s going on in Writer Brain. I consider myself part of the writing community on Twitter, where I’ve been talking sporadically about my NaNoWriMo project. Last year, when I wrote GIRLS BREAK THINGS, I also commented occasionally about it on Twitter. To some extent, I LOVE talking about what I’m writing – I like to throw little ideas out there into the Twitterverse and see what kind of response they get. But for the most part, those comments are few and far between.

Most of the time, I don’t like to talk to people about what I’m working on. It’s not because it diminishes the “urgency” to write, it’s because I’m afraid of letting people down. I don’t want to tell someone, “In this manuscript, the princess rescues herself” and then they get all excited about it, and then they ask me about it later and I have to tell them “yeeaaahhhh that didn’t work out for plot reasons, now she gets rescued by a horse…” It’s a silly example, but it’s one of my top five fears. I've been let down by books too many times to not be afraid.

But in those little in-between moments, there are some people I always talk to about my writing. There are the cheerleaders, writing friends who always prop me up and tell me I’m doing great, even when I have to delete seven chapters. They’re the ones who remind me that all is not lost and the core idea is a good one. There are my critiquers, who of course have to know what’s going on so they can give me good feedback. And then there’s my bouncers, so named because I like to bounce ideas off them. They alone really know what’s going on behind the scenes as I scramble to make the cheerleaders and critiquers happy.

Deep down inside, though, I like to keep some things hidden. I like to keep a select few delicious secrets. I hardly talk about works in progress because there's a point where I want everyone to be surprised. I want those secrets to have their time to shine - and if that time is when people have the final physical book in their hands, then so be it.

What about you? Do you like to talk to readers or other writers about your work? Or do you like to keep things secret?

1 comment:

Roland Clarke said...

I find talking about an idea helps spark new ideas, even if I reject suggestions from others if I disagree.