Anyone will tell you that writing can be a lonely job – it’s just you and your laptop for hours on end, and no matter how fascinating your story or nonfiction piece is, you get bored of it after a while, or you get stuck, or you hit a really challenging spot, so you ‘take a break,’ which can lead to some serious distractions through social media (oh look, more cat videos!) and even more procrastination.
Most writing advice centres around the importance of having proofreaders, editors, and beta readers – actual people, not software programs – review your work and offer feedback. This of course helps catch tpyos and mstakes (unless intentional), and gives the writer a firm reality check when the reader says ‘I’m not following you’ or ‘I’m bored as heck here, can you hurry it along a little.’
But the greater value is of accountability.
And for that you need a tribe. Part critic, part cheerleader, and bossy as all get out.
Your tribe is beyond the basic beta reader, who simply read your work and give a yay/nay response.
These are the people who make suggestions and criticisms, and offer ideas for change – not because they want to be mean or cruel – but because they want your work to be the best it can.
So they expect things to be done in a timely manner – this means (a) they expect things to be finished, and (b) they expect things to be finished during their lifetime, and preferably by the end of this week because they want to know what happens next.
Your tribe is essential to provide an external point of view in examining your piece. This outside view does two things – provides editorial advice, and gives that firm reality check to push toward completion, and ironically it is through their feedback that you are able to compete those nagging little dangly bits to a piece.
(A Word of Caution — I’ve had stories die a premature death by being thrown to a pack of critics, each with their own ideas, but none following the inherent thread of the story. So chose your tribe carefully.)
After a few weeks of floundering, I am grateful to my little tribe for keeping me on track, and pushing me to see things through.
And because honestly, nothing succeeds like success, when I finished one project, I whipped around and tackled a second doozy, and used my tribe’s advice to tidy up a few loose ends.
Lot 149 is now fully available for your reading pleasure.
For more thoughts on the importance of readers for the writer, please see Dear Reader.