Friday, August 28, 2015

When Should I Share My Writing? How to Know When You're Ready to Get Feedback

Is your manuscript, chapter, scene reader ready?  How do you know when it's time to share it?  Are you just looking for feedback because you're stuck or bored--hoping it'll jump start you?  Or are you asking for reassurance about a new approach or idea you're testing? 

Feedback is a tricky game.  Timing and choice of reader is everything.  First, how do you know when to share? 

When to Share--And When It's Too Soon
One of my blog readers told me, "I give my writing to readers way too soon. That comes from my public policy advocacy work where we share drafts early in order to get creative juices flowing and creative ideas spinning.  I get it that this writing has a different process." 

Friday, August 21, 2015

It May Be Real, But Is It a Good Story? Traveling the Crucial Distance between Reality and Narrative

Years ago, in a fiction class, a writer was defending his work.  "It really happened," he kept insisting to the feedback group who wanted to suggest a few changes.  "Yes, it probably did," our instructor finally said.  "It's real.  But is it a good story?"

Fast forward to a memoir group I taught this past spring.  A woman writing her first memoir was concerned about leaving anything out.  "It all really happened," she kept telling me.  "It's my life!"  And it was quite a life, full of challenges and crises.  I remembered that fiction class long ago.  "Yes, it is your life," I told her, borrowing from my long ago teacher.  "But can you find the narrative within it?  What parts of your life would make a good story?"

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ten Things Not to Say to a Writer--You Gotta Read This!

A Twitter post from well-known novelist Joanne Harris, became a funny-wise commentary on what people think about writers, published recently in The New Republic.  It's worth a read--and you'll laugh, curse, and learn.  Thanks to Nancy, a memoir writer in my intermediate online class, for this priceless essay.

Your weekly writing exercise is to eavesdrop on a party with Phillip Roth, and hear what people say about the "real" work of writing.

Click here for the article.

Friday, August 7, 2015

When You Tell Your Truth and No One Wants to Hear It: How Honest Can You Be in Your Writing?

A writer from New York emailed me:  "I'm learning how to create from who I am, show up and connect to readers," she said.  "I get stuck because I'm not good at the connection part. The mistake that I often make is that people say be honest and authentic - tell me what you are thinking and feeling and I do and they don't connect with my reality. I show up and people don't understand and I get stuck."

Honesty in writing is much-heard advice.  You need to be authentic on the page, because readers can spot a fake a mile away.  But then, what's the balance with knowing your reader, and knowing how to talk with that reader?  This writer asks a good question.