One of the hardest parts of being a writer is sharing your work. The act of writing is very personal and isolating, and the idea of letting anyone else read your work is terrifying.
It’s yours. It’s the precious. And other people might not understand.
But, if you’re serious about being a writer, you have to share your work eventually. I mean, it doesn’t make much sense if no one reads it.
I’m not going to tell you how you go about giving your manuscripts to readers to critique. That’s the easy part. Just find people whose opinions you respect, who are open (or even better, excited) to read your manuscript.
No, the hard part is figuring out what to do while they’re reading.
You could go the crazy route and stalk them. Text them every few hours to see how much they’ve read. Show up on their doorstep with a pizza. Stand over them and watch them sleep.
What, just me?
But most readers don’t like that. I know I almost punched a guy in the throat for reading over my shoulder on the subway. But he was breathing on my neck too, so it would have been totally justified.
So what do you do to avoid harassing your readers?
- Start a new project. Get obsessed. Do some research. Write an outline. Write a beginning. Write a whole book. Accept that Book A is currently out of your hands and out with readers, and move on and start Book B instead.
- Read! I don’t know about you, but when I am working on a project, my reading time all but disappears. So when my readers are reading, so am I. And I enjoy having the chance to catch up.
- Watch some movies or tv shows. Like reading, watching movies and tv shows falls to the wayside when I’m working. So this break sometimes turns into a chance to binge watch everything I missed. Right now I’m planning on powering through the entire series of Inuyasha and seeing Guardians of the Galaxy a few more times (yes, it was that good).
- Take an actual vacation. What better time to get out of town? You’ve passed the baton of work to other people, you need a mental holiday. And an actual holiday. Get out of town. Out of state. Out of country. Run away and enjoy things like beaches and museums and frozen drinks with tiny umbrellas. Escape!
- Take up a new hobby. Learn something new like knitting or pottery or aerial yoga. Apply your brain to something other than your writing and pick up a new skill. And hobbies are shown to alleviate stress too, which is always a good thing.
- Eat all the food. Pants? Pants are for the weak. Sweatpants and donuts FOREVER!
Ok, that last one is not the best idea. But, no matter what you choose, remember that your readers are doing you a favor. Be respectful. Give them the time and space to read and thoughtfully critique. Your book will be better for it.
And don’t get too worked up over it.