A Conversation Between Critique Partners: In Defense of Sharing Ideas & Stories
[box type="note"]Hi, Sarah here! Today Sooz and I are co-writing this post about critique partners. Enjoy![/box]
So, by now it’s no secret that Sooz and I are CPs—and that we have a pretty darn successful partnership. In the past, we’ve co-written posts about how our CPship helps us Maintain Passion For A Story, World-Build, and How We Generally Operate As CPs. Today, however, we thought we’d answer one of the questions that we get asked somewhat often by other writers regarding our CPing & writing processes:
I’ve heard from other authors that they don’t like to share their ideas/stories until they’re finished, and that doing so is a sure-fire way to kill your creativity and motivation. Don’t you guys worry about that?
SARAH: First of all, and this is something that both Sooz and I strongly believe in, there is absolutely no wrong way to go about writing your book. Write your book the way YOU want to—the way that makes you come alive, the way that makes you get out of bed each morning totally pumped to write. There is no definite method of HOW you write that will lead to success/book deals/whatever.
Nowadays, we’re both very open about our writing—and love talking about our ideas and books before/as we write them. For years, I thrived the most as a writer by talking about my ideas and sharing my first drafts with CPs as I wrote them (for cheerleading and encouragement). But at some point in the past two years, I heard someone mention how they NEVER tell anyone their ideas or share their first drafts, because it ruins the story for them—because story ideas will vanish if they are even whispered about before they are fully formed.
And hearing that somehow put me into this mindset where I suddenly felt...bad sharing that stuff. Terrified. As if my first drafts had to be written alone and quietly and in the dark. So I kinda stopped sharing random story ideas, stopped talking about my books as I drafted them, and stopped sharing my WIPs chapter-by-chapter as I wrote them...And for the first time in my life, I wound up starting to abandon manuscripts.
Until then, I had ALWAYS finished my books. I prided myself on finishing every damn story I started. And in hindsight (seriously, Sooz and I discussed this stuff and had a big “HOLY CRAP! YOU TOO!?” moment), I realized it’s totally because I convinced myself that I had to keep quiet about everything. I now have a graveyard of WIPs on my desktop because I never spoke about them to anyone, and never shared them as I wrote, and as a result I lost the interest/passion/motivation to finish them. But a few months ago, I suddenly understood that keeping quiet was legit KILLING my creativity—that I LOVED and NEEDED to be able to share all this stuff... and that the only person I had to answer to for my writing process was ME.
*Passes the proverbial mic to Sooz*
SOOZ: Sarah and I both were working on our various Book 3 manuscripts this past winter, and though we had already been CPing for a while, we very rarely went super in-depth about our various ideas, and only sent each other stuff once it was 110% polished and ready to go.
[Side note: I do think you need CPs of varying levels. For me, Sarah is a cheerleader who reads as I’m drafting AND a CP who will read as I’m revising/polishing. But we both have CPs who are one or the other, and who we value just as much.]
Sarah and I had co-written two projects in the past—and for both of them, we wound up writing UNGODLY amounts of words in short time periods (like, 60k in a week). We thought for a while it was just because the stories were exciting, fresh, and fabulous...But what we realized this past winter was that it wasn’t just the stories...it was the FUN we had while TALKING about the stories, while swapping each chapter as we wrote them and gushing over them and then being so excited to write & share the next scene, and the next, and the next.
So we decided that even though it felt weird and made us kinda self-conscious, we should talk about our individual Book 3s (both of which were giving us grief). Talk about our plans, every random idea, and SHARE the actual writing while we were doing it. Once we started doing that, it was a game-changer. Having Sarah get excited over my ideas (and vice-versa) was a HUGE motivator—and one that helped me get through my book...and be EXCITED about it.
SARAH: Honestly, I love the internet and how many resources there are out there for writers nowadays. But I think that sometimes we can get TOO much advice—and that hearing a random tidbit about someone’s writing process can somehow screw with yours.
[Super Random side note: We’ve also heard that some people believe having a CP means you’re a weak writer—and makes you look like one, too. I cannot emphasize enough how much BS is contained in that notion.]
Today we talked about WHY we share with each other and how it makes us come alive just in case there are any of you who operate like us. In case you’re one of the people who DON’T like to keep quiet and write alone but feel like you have to. But this is just OUR way of writing—there are so many other methods out there. If you ARE someone who finds that your ideas lose their spark if you talk about them, or you don’t like sharing a book until it is 100% finished, that is absolutely and completely wonderful, too. Basically, just write in the way that makes YOU the most excited, and be proud of it.
SOOZ: Yep. There is NO wrong way to be creative. None.