Sharing: When Friends Want To Read Your Writing

sharing writings with friendsSharing your writing can be unnerving, especially when it’s not finished.

I recently announced on facebook and twitter that I finally reached the 50,000 word mark of my third novel. That’s pretty exciting in my humble opinion. It means that hopefully by the end of the month, or soon there after, I’ll have three novels written. That’s an amazing start to my journey.

And like what happens every time I announce a writing milestone, people come out of the woodwork asking when they get to read it and asking if I need an editor because their so and so and best friend’s cousin’s step uncle is an editor.

I absolutely LOVE that my friends and family are so supportive and encouraging of my writing ambitions. It’s another one of those reminders that life is wonderful and that the majority of people are still kind and supportive no matter how the world seems to be going.

What makes me feel bad though is when I have to tell these wonderful people, “not yet,” or “soon,” or something along those lines.  The thing is, I make these little announcements because I’m so excited for the progress I’m making, but I’m not ready for people (other then my first reader) to read them yet.

Think of an artist who’s learning how to paint. How much do they need to practice before they actually get good? Do they show everyone their first sketches and attempts at art? I bet they don’t.

I know I’m a perfectionist. I’m working on it. I’m working on letting go of my writing by submitting short stories to various magazines. But my bigger works? I don’t want anyone seeing them until they’ve gone to an editor of some sort. The only novel I have that’s near ready for an editor is my first novel that’s gone through at least five drafts already.

Maybe perfectionist isn’t the right word. Meticulous? Cautious? My desire is to share the best possible version of my work to people. Unfortunately, that means that it may be a long time before people get to read my books, and some of them may never be read at all.

I’m ok with this because I know I’m still growing and learning as a writer. It’s really just been a year and a half since I learned the fine art of outlining, or even that most books have a basic structure (ex. The Three Act structure). Even though I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid, it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve taken this seriously.

So what, then, is a good response to all those well intentioned friends and family?

Do I have to reign in my excitement? Should I save the announcements for that someday future event when I actually publish something? Do I respond with, “when it’s published.”

I would really like to know what you think. Have you been in similar situations? How have you handled it?



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8 Responses to Sharing: When Friends Want To Read Your Writing

  1. Perhaps if you include in your announcement an estimated future date when it will be available for others to review, they won’t pounce so quickly. You can also let them know you will keep them posted on your progress to keep them at bay. (Personally, I think 50,000 words is a tremendous accomplishment! Good luck going forward.)

    • Nichole McGhie says:

      Thank you! That is a good suggestion. That will definitely make me set some more concrete goals for the books too. 🙂

  2. Matt Bowes says:

    What’s the tired cliche? (Is that redundant?) Perfect is the enemy of finished. 😉

    Maybe you’ll thank me later. Or not.

    I think you should hand out the beta reader critique guides when you let people read it. I’d send you a link, but the essence of it was a long and detailed page with lots and lots of questions, to guide the beta reader in providing excellent feedback regarding the book, rather than “It’s perfect, don’t change anything,” or “wow!” Yeah, no, not really useful. Useful is, “When did you feel the story truly started?” “Which character would you remove if you had to remove a character? Which character would you keep if you were voting the rest off an island?” and other questions. I’m paraphrasing, of course. They didn’t really say the island part, but *I* think it’d be helpful.

    Ah! Found it!

    Of course, that sucks all the joy out of reading a book, if there’s homework you gotta do after.

    • Nichole McGhie says:

      That’s an excellent idea! I can say something along the lines of, “why yes you can read my book, but there will be a quiz after.” But in seriousness, thank you for that link. I’m going to keep that on hand.

  3. I struggle with this too! I tend to be secretive about my writing milestones with friends and family (except for my friends who are writers, who get it). Otherwise… I’m liking the suggestions above!

    • Thanks for reading! We love the dragon on your profile picture. That’s awesome! And it’s nice to here others feel the same way. I’m glad Matt’s suggestion was helpful to you too.

  4. M.L.S.Weech says:

    I’ve had a lot of people approach me about reading my books. I have a writers’ group. I have a few confidants, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Most of my family knows I won’t just hand over a copy of anything. It took time, but they came to understand that I’ll share when I’m ready, but only when I’m ready. This is hardest when they all want to offer “feedback.” They love me, and I know that, but that does’t make them the right beta readers for my book. If you’re up front, most people understand. Now if you want a TRICK, it’s when someone says, “Hey, I really want to read your book,” and you give it to them, and never…hear…back. That’s a thing I’ve seen happen, and it’s pretty harsh. It gets me thinking, “Geez! If I can’t get my FRIEND to read this book, how am I going to get people who don’t know me to read it.” This is another reason why I’m stingy with my WIPs. I’m a sensitive dude, and if I loan out my book and don’t hear back, I assume said book is garbage and start over. In reality, people are just busy. It doesn’t stop me from feeling the way I do, but at least I know.

    • Nichole McGhie says:

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you too. Some of my friends and family just aren’t the kind of “beta” readers I’m looking for. Love them dearly though. That would be hard, to give someone your book and then never hear back from them. I would be dying to ask them about it, but then not want to be pushy or anything and then would just have to let it go. That’s actually happened to me too now that I think of it. It’s hard but you move past it.

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