Writing can be a very solitary activity. For the most part, writing consists of sitting alone at your computer or your notebook and putting word after word. As a project begins, you are probably feeling protective of your work and wanting to keep it away from other people. That’s a completely understandable feeling, of course. Your writing project is something that has lived mainly in your head, and now that it’s making it onto paper it feels more fragile. But, eventually, you will have to talk to someone about what you’re working on. And getting someone else’s feedback can be more helpful than you might expect.
In a recent post on his blog, Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig wrote about essential elements that a writer needs to cultivate instinct. One of the things on Wendig’s list was talking about your writing. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:
“Sometimes? Sometimes you just have to talk about it. Go out to a movie, go get pie with friends. Read a book? Get online to chat about it. Have a story problem? Go talk to someone. Talking about The Work — ours and everybody else’s — helps us hone our writing knives and story swords.”
Of course, as Wendig mentions here, the best time to get out and talk to someone about your writing is when you’re feeling stuck. If you have a problem in your story that you can’t seem to get past, talking to someone else and puzzling out the problem aloud might help. Even if the other person doesn’t have any advice to offer you, saying the problem out loud might help you see where you could fix things. So, this is a great way to get out of writer’s block, or at least lessen it.
Wendig also makes a great point here when he says that we should be talking about ‘The Work,’ ours as well as others’. Discussing the books that we like and what we think worked well in those books is essential for understanding the craft of writing and translating that into your own work. Hearing the opinions of others might also help you understand what readers want to see in a book.
In addition, I would add that talking about your writing projects makes them feel more valid and real. Explaining what you have been working on, mostly in your own head, gives it new life. Letting someone in on the “secret” of your writing can also be quite fun!
If you haven’t yet, find someone you trust and talk with them about the writing project that you’re currently engrossed in. You never know how it might help or what they might have to say.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan