Are you an open book? {involving your readers in the writing process}

Posted: February 8, 2011 in motivation, tips

Ready for something crazy?

After posting on WARBREAKER last week, I did a little research and guess what?

Brandon Sanderson posted drafts of the book online, starting with the roughest, as he was writing it. For all the world to see. To pick apart. To criticize. To look for holes in that intricate plot. To freely broadcast it to others who could do the same.

This is a brave man!

Keep in mind that he was not an unknown trying to gain a few fans or the attention of a publisher. By this time, he had already published his New York Times best-selling MISTBORN trilogy. He had a reputation. And still he was willing to risk that so that he could give his readers an inside look at how a novel is created. You can read more of his reasons for involving his readers in the writing process — and drafts!– online.

Sanderson is not the first to share early drafts before publishing the final product. On Twitter a couple weeks ago, Alvina Ling, executive editor at Little Brown, introduced me to, a website that encourages writers to post their novels as they are written — one chapter at a time. Figment has created a very large, supportive community of writers based on this principle of involving others in your creation process. (You really ought to check it out.)

Now me? I’m a total wuss. I’m hesitant to share my work with even my writing group. I always feel like I have something to prove. That if it’s not good enough the first time, no one will give me a chance to fix it.

Then I came across this post, from YA author Ann Dee Ellis, and I remembered something I had forgotten.

I had lost sight of the magic of the process. How cool is it to see something transform (with plenty of hard work) from a big sloppy mess into a story that gets even your heart going? How rewarding is it to send a much-improved revised chapter to a reader who thought the first version was already pretty good? And, how often are we writers too hard on ourselves? To the point that it makes us want to hit the delete button and quit writing forever?

Involving others in your craft not only provides you with much needed feedback to help you improve, but it also gives you motivation to continue writing. Someone to tell you your idea is worth something. We all need a little encouragement, don’t we?

Are you an open book when it comes to sharing your writing? Who is your most trusted reader? What is the best/scariest part about sharing?

  1. Yamile says:

    Hi Lisa! For me, the scariest part of sharing is that someone will tell me to go back to raising kids because I sure can’t write. So silly! I know, but I still feel it every time I share my work with others. Luckily, I am part of an awesome critique group that has motivated me to keep writing and editing. They’re sincere with their compliments and suggestions and I respect their opinion.
    Yes, encouragement. Who doesn’t need it to keep going?

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