Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Much Do You Share?

For those of my readers who are also writers, I have a question. I know how I operate, but I'm curious to see what others do...

When it comes to a big project, I'm thinking particularly of novel-length, how many of the details do you share with others? Are you one who keeps mum about everything from the storyline to the progress you're making, choosing not to relinquish updates to anyone? Or do you talk things through with one person or more, because you like to share, or feel you work better through your project that way?

For me, I'm hesitant to give too much detail, either because I'll "jinx" myself, or look silly before my idea has fully developed. But I can't keep everything in. I have to give the basic rundown to my parents and a friend or two. I have to have that initial feedback to kick myself into drive. And I periodically update my husband ("I hit 1000 words and a new chapter today!"), or run a scene by him, ask for input.

How do you work? What do you share?

32 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

I bounce progress and problems with the WIP off my writing group, and now Melissa's TWC blog for the encouragement and hiney-kicking.

Terri Tiffany said...

I share with close friends and hubby but don't like to sound too dumb about the topic until I form it more. Good thoughts here-I'm glad you brought it up. I think it brings out some insecurities we have as writers too.

celestialwolf said...

I generally hit up my wife for her thoughts on certain situations or plot issues that I've written myself into. She normally asks me questions that gets my noodle going where I figure it out on my own. She doesn't get to read anything until the piece is complete but she understands the premise of my WIPS, even if only very basic. Outside of her, I keep it close to the vest.

Jenna said...

I share the basic plot with my hubby and sometimes I'll ask him hypothetical questions to see if the actions of the MC's hubby are potentially realistic. One time, when I was trying to figure out which story I should go with, I read a few passages to him--but that took a couple glasses of wine just to be able to do.

My mom wanted to be a writer at one point--I'm named after a character in story she wrote when she was little--so once in a great, great while I'll share a small part of the plot with her to gauge her reaction (she shows everything on her face).

Other than that I don't share anything with anyone else other than the fact that I'm writing a book.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I crave feedback and encouragement. Writing may be a lonely business, but I can't write in a void.

I run ideas and writer's block by my husband almost daily. He's my best cheerleader even though he doesn't write.

My best writer friend, Terri Tiffany and I critique and encourage each other.

I don't share much with my writer groups--just general info on WIP.

And all of my blog writer friends are wonderful encouragers too!

Melanie Avila said...

That's funny you ask this today because I've been feeling like I'm oversharing. As you know, I've been trying and trying to reach 60K, and as a result I feel like half the internet is cheering me on. I noticed this when my facebook status keeps reflecting my progress as I update each 500 word increase. I'm starting to feel a little silly about it and decided to stop doing that until I finish this draft.

As for when I start a project, I like to keep it close to the vest until I feel like the story is something I can see all the way through. I don't want to tell people about a project, only to have to tell them I've abandoned it.

I have a small group of online friends that I trust to share early ideas with, but my husband has little interest.

Jenna - I didn't know that about your mom! That's so cool. :) And I can totally see her face as she reacts to thing, lol.

thedomesticfringe said...

It's been interesting to read everyone's responses. I'm not a writer, so I don't worry about oversharing. I just air my dirty laundry in front of the world.

I think I'd keep things a secret though...well, except for a person or two.

-FringeGirl

Stina Rose said...

I bounce things ideas and problems off my husband, either that or I talk to myself out loud when no one is home. (I'm not crazy, I just think better out loud...maybe I should get a fish or something to talk to.) I don't like to share too much with others until it is finished. I do find it is helpful that others know that I am working on something... it adds a little bit of accountability.

Joanne said...

I don't talk up a wip too much. Talking seems somehow to take something away from it. Only 3 people are familiar with whatever I'm writing, generally. My husband and two very trusted readers, whose insight and suggestions I have much faith in.

Janet said...

I talk to some people about it, a fair bit if I think they'd "get" it, and very little to people I think would have no interest. As time goes by, I think I talk less.

Ang said...

I always share the details with my husband. I pitch the story's characters, scene, plot, etc. to him to get his thoughts before I sit down to write. Every so often I might update my daughter on some things.

I post blogs on my MySpace site to get my friends to help out with some projects. But not too much detail listed there.

Great question.

Melissa Marsh said...

I have one writing friend (Rene) that I bounce ideas off of because she is great at helping me get through problems. I don't share a lot of details about my projects on my blog, and it just depends on how much I share with others. If I'm feeling good about the project, I'll share more - if I'm not, I'll clam up. :-)

Turkey Lurkey said...

I like to keep it ALL to myself. Same reason you mentioned. I don't want to jinx anything. During my second project, I shared a lot and then never completed it. I've learned my lesson... just write it.

spyscribbler said...

Nothing! Hardly anything. No way, hose! No can do!

If I share, I typically have to throw the entire thing away.

Rachel Burton said...

I'll usually share the premise if someone asks. Helps me work on that ten second elevator pitch I suppose! But nitty-gritty plot points and details, not so much, unless someone is really interested!

ChristaCarol said...

Good question!

I, too, don't typically share. I sometimes give my plot ideas to hubby or brother, but then realize how it's still such a WIP to keep my mouth shut. I don't share with hubby too much cause he's over critical lol. I like to share my status tho simply to keep myself motivated and in check. If I'm telling people about a certain goal, I hate to have to put my foot in my mouth.

But another reason I'm hesitant in sharing is really sad, but an insecurity I'm still working on - - someone taking my idea lol. Pathetic, I know.

I do plan on sharing with my workshop group once I get some decent stuff written. Nothing more valuable than great feedback.

colbymarshall said...

Definitely depends on the person and my mood. Sometimes I'll talk out a plot detail with the hub if I need to bounce ideas off someone if there's something puzzling me, because I find I can figure it out if I say it out loud. My best friend read, literally (bless her soul), every word I put to paper.

Sharla said...

I share only with my husband, and only after I have some real meat to it and there's something for him to get into. Then I love it because he talks about it with me like it's real people we're discussing and it's so cool to have someone in that world with me.

Before that, with something new like I'm starting now, I say next to nothing. It jinxes it, or makes it sound stupid, or makes it final...or I don't know what it is exactly but I'm terrified to talk about it in detail until it's something substantial.

Christa, that's funny what you said about "idea stealing" because when I was posting my query/synopsis at AbsoluteWrite, my hubby kept saying the same thing. "Anybody can take that and run with it! What are you thinking?"

Jen said...

Good question, Janna. I'll talk about my WIP in broad strokes to almost anyone, but detailed stuff? Almost never.

I tend to share that sort of thing on a need-to-know basis, if someone is helping crit a piece and they need the info to help. I've only shared with one or two people period (besides bouncing ideas off the hub) when I'm at a loss.

Developing ideas, though...the more the merrier, imo. It really helps me focus on what it is that actually want to say that way.

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - I really need to find or create a writing group. My efforts locally haven't been panning out.

Terri - I'm glad we can all commiserate over our insecurities together. :)

Cel - That's awesome she's so willing to help!

Jenna - Great story about your name!

Janna Qualman said...

Donna - You've got a great system going!

Melanie - I think all that stuff helps with accountability, though. Don't feel silly!

FringeGirl - We need to work on the fact that you don't consider yourself a writer. ;)

Stina - Ha! I know you're not crazy. I do the same thing. ;)

Janna Qualman said...

Joanne - You many be right, maybe it does take a little something of the spark, the initial excitement, away.

Janet - I get that, too. We become so ingrained in it, so caught up, there's little reason to blab on and on. As I finished Bliss Lake, I wanted to keep it all to myself.

Ang - A lot of professionals look down on sharing the details with loved ones, but I think I need the initial feedback.

Melissa - That makes a lot of sense. I guess I'm the same way, because no one wants to share the negativity.

Janna Qualman said...

Turkey - A tough lesson. :(

Spy - Seriously? Just chuck it? Don't do it!

Rachel - That's a good point, too. We all need to perfect our off-the-cuff blurbs.

ChristaCarol - Oh, there's that part of me, too! I KNOW it's not statistically likely for someone to rip my idea off, but I can't keep myself from thinking there's a chance.

Janna Qualman said...

Colby - Every writer needs someone like your best friend. Good for her! (And you!)

Sharla - With every comment and blog post I read, I think you and I are a lot alike. :)

Jen - Yeah, I think broad strokes are okay. And maybe part of it is that, unless I've "proven" myself with publication, most people don't WANT anything more than the barest of details. People tend to tune me out if I do wander into more detail.

Kathryn Magendie said...

At first I used to share more, but now I'm more closed up about it - which makes all the "self promotion and marketing" to do with the novel coming out really hard for me - that "I'll jinx it" thing - or "something will happen and it won't happen and then I have to go tell everyone it's not going to happen and *hypervent hypervent hypervent*" laughing

Kathy said...

I definitely talk about my novel. My husband gets to hear all about it whether he likes it or not!

I bounce ideas off him, ask him how plausible things sound.

Jen said...

Yeah, Janna, broad strokes are cool, but mostly, I try to follow Uncle Stevie's advice about "writing with the door closed".

Or that other adage, "Too many cooks spoil the soup/stew/pudding/insertfoodofyourchoicehere." *grin*

MichaƩle said...

No one is particularly interested in what I write until it's in black and white so I don't have this issue! When I saw your title, I thought you meant how much do you share about your personal life in your writing and for me, I am a big over-sharer. TMI, as my kids would say..too much information!

WendyCinNYC said...

I'll also share the premise if someone asks. But I don't go on and on.

Little Red said...

I have one friend who I email pieces too as they are in progress. Aside from her I am extremely tight lipped. My husband, my family, my best friend -they know I'm working on something, but they don't know what. And they won't know until I've got it polished up and ready for some serious editing from my mother and my aunt and anyone else who is willing to read it.

Hence, this Little Red's Writing Hood blog that even my nearest and dearest know nothing about. :)

Jessica said...

Hmmm, I didn't use to share anything with anyone. Once it's done and ready for revisions, I talk about stuff with a writer friend.
Great post!

Janna Qualman said...

Kat - I can't wait to be in your shoes. ;)

Kathy - It sounds like he's a great support!

Jen - He's got some of the best advice, dudn't he?

MichaƩle - Well, that makes it easy! :)

Wendy - Knowing the premise is really good. ;)

Little Red - Thanks for coming by! And you have an AWESOME blog name.

Jessica - Those writer friends are so important, aren't they? :)