Do you have a writing community? In the last year I have actively perused a writing community, to help me progress as a writer and keep myself motivated.
At the moment I attend two writing groups. In one group we sit and read work aloud, then give and receive constructive (mostly) criticism. In my other group (that I sadly meet with less often) we sit as a group, do a meditation exercise and then write independently for an hour, sharing our work at the end. I’m also working with a writing partner on a novel project.
I used to think of writing as a solitary pursuit, but now I know that writing is just another extension of my desire to connect to people. I like to share my work (even though doing so often makes me feel like I might throw up.) I also like to hear about the challenges and triumphs of other writers (I am not alone!). Plus I discovered there are benefits to showing your work to others:
- Developing bravery and public reading skills. The first time I read in public my hands shook and I shot through the piece in record time. I’m sure no one heard me properly and I nearly threw up. But now I can read at a reasonable pace with only minor jitters. Practice makes perfect may not have manifested yet, but practice definitely is making me better, and since I’m going to be famous one day and asked to read in public, so why not start now?
- Getting feedback on plot and story. I get much to close to my work to really know when there is a plot hole. After all, more happens in the book than what ends up on the page, and I sometimes assume the reader will know what is in my head…It helps to have someone who doesn’t know the whole story read your work and tell you when things have gone sideways.
- Proofreading and copy editing help. Just like I get too close to my work to notice plot holes. I also get too close to notice stupid spelling and grammar mistakes. After the fifth time I read a sentence I have no idea what it really says on the paper. In my mind the sentence says what I think it says, and I will pass right over over duplicated words and speelingn mistakes.
- Ego boost. (Sounds like an energy drink doesn’t it?) Believe it or not, most people I have met are gentle with their criticism and generous with their praise when I read…not bad for the ego.
What scares you about writing? Is it writer’s block? Are you worried about sharing your ideas? The risk or criticism or rejection? Terror of public speaking? Whatever it is, this fear can be a gold mine for story. Think about your fear objectively. What is the root cause of the fear? How do you deal with the fear? Have you seen others deal with fear in different ways? Now create a character who shares your fear and throw them into this terrible situation. Whatever can go wrong does. Whatever might make it worse happens. Spend twenty minutes writing about a fearful writing experience.
Once you have a piece, go forth and find a writing community. It could be an online forum, a community writing community, or just a friend who likes to write. Be brave and seek out the company of other creative folks and then share your short piece of writing. I guarantee whatever happens it wont be as bad as what happened to your character…