There seem to be many opinions on whether to share the early drafts of your work or not. And as with many decisions in writing, there’s no absolute right or wrong answer. You have to discover what works best for you and your Creativity.
Of course, you’ll have to share your draft with readers at some point, but the question here is whether you should wait until you have a polished draft you’re happy with, or whether sharing earlier (less polished) versions can be helpful.
So here’s a list of pros and cons for sharing early drafts of your work. Think about them and consider what you and your Creativity feel is the best decision for you.
- Early feedback can save you a lot of writing time down the track, e.g. by pointing out plot problems before your story is too polished.
- You can test out whether your story concept appeals to your audience or whether the idea doesn’t yet capture attention.
- Other people’s enthusiasm for your story can spur you on through the difficult times.
- As soon as you show your work to someone, your perspective changes. Now you’re writing for an audience, not just you. (And as said before on this blog, first drafts are just for you.)
- The feedback received may discourage you and your Creativity. It may be much harder to approach your draft with enthusiasm and positivity after hearing what’s wrong with it.
- Your critiquer may put pressure on you to see the next draft. (This could be a pro or a con depending on what you find works for you.)
Everyone is different. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. In the end, the decision should be based on what works best for you and your Creativity.
What do you find works best in your situation? Do you protect your early work and keep it safely to yourself, or do you get feedback in the hopes that you’ll save yourself time in the long run?
Remember, if you are asking someone for feedback on your work, you can be specific and ask only for overall thoughts or gut feelings on character development etc. Problems can arise if the reader doesn’t know what you’re looking for and gives feedback on areas you’re not ready to hear opinions about. Communicate your needs clearly so both sides know where they stand.
So what do you think? Are there any pros, cons or other points you’d like to add to the discussion?
January 16, 2013 at 7:44 pm
There is no writer so good that he or she can’t learn by sharing unfinished prose with others. I love my MFA workshops (well, usually I do) and my local monthly writer’s group.
The challenge for me is sharing something that is close enough to done that the criticism isn’t on little things that I likely would have fixed in rewrite anyway but not done enough that there’s little for them to say. The other challenge is sharing something that is part of a larger whole; too many of the questions stem around what is not on the page, which is not always helpful.
January 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm
Excellent points to consider. Thank you!