Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to speak at a teen writing workshop with friend and fellow writer Angela Misri. I was amazed by their enthusiasm and creativity, especially when we put them into groups and got them to come up with a story idea, then pitch it to us. Some pretty hilarious concepts ensued, the winner being an abominable snowman and sasquatch who fell in love online and whose epic meet-up is threatened by climate change as the polar ice caps melt. (Another mention was Heil Humpty, about a sentient, Nazi-sympathizing, man-eating egg à la Little Shop of Horrors – don’t ask).
Anyway, silliness aside, it got me thinking how important it is to have people we can bounce our ideas off of. Too often, writing is a solitary process. We spend all day at our computers
surfing the net and social media creating and there’s no one around, except maybe the cat or the mailman, who we can get an opinion from.
Sometimes writers also fear that their ideas will be stolen. When I was a literary agent I encountered this frequently. A few people were even afraid to send in their manuscript in its entirety for fear of being plagiarized (this almost never happens). Also, sometimes we’re afraid of sharing because we don’t want our ideas or writing to be judged. We want to perfect things before anyone sees them. This might work for some but I say the sooner the feedback, the better. If you spend months and years tweaking something and then a reader points out that it doesn’t work/make sense/serve the story, think of all the time and effort that could have been saved.
Writers shouldn’t let things things like this keep them and their work isolated. Of course, if that’s how you prefer things, then that’s great. Personally, I’m a social creature and like having others I can hash things out with, whether online, or in a real physical location.
What about you? What’s your process?