Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Immature Writer

Remember those awkward days of puberty? When your body's chemistry threw you in for several loops and you had to learn from ground zero all over again?

Well, that's how I feel about finding time with my writing. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE writing with the passion. It's the blood that runs through me. But I can't help but feel lost, trapped almost, about it.

Example: How can I stop feeling as if I'm indulging myself and neglecting my family as I edit?

Editing is very challenging. I love challenging things, like a complicated math problem and the euphoria of finding the solution.

Another challenge I face: a critique group.

How can I keep up crit'ing others' stuff along with my own WIP? To add to the blow, I feel as if I'm hitting the reset button every time someone hands me their crits of my work, because on top of that, it's already a nonstop project for my own edits. I do know just how vital it is to have a group behind a writer. I know that there are lone writers out there too that have done just as splendidly with out.

I want to pull my hair out! I know that it's all a state of mind, what I'm going through. I feel like an adolescent trying to find her way again but through writing life.

Something I asked a friend of mine the other day that I would like to know from you. How do you crit others' work and your own with out dislodging your own need of completion? And when do you find time to do both?


  1. Understand how that goes, except the family since I can understand in theory but not experience, yet.

    Do you get the crits back individually from a group? Just by the way it's worded here, it kind of sounds like that and maybe putting it into stages would make it easier. I know different people work at different paces but if you can get all the critiques at the same time you can see where there is repetition and make decisions at one time what to follow and what to shrug off.

    I used to be in a critque group. We were on and would post a chaper or so each week. Then on a specific day we would meet in a chat room on the web site and discuss the chapters submitted. It worked though sometimes things got in the way, meetings were missed or readings forgotten till last minute. I also had less novels and dedication to writing. Plus, I was submitting only first draft material with minor edits cause that's all I had at the time. I ended up leaving the group and am now looking for a couple readers instead of a full group.

    I'm also an intern right now for a small publisher, so I get to review/critique submitted work and send it to my boss. Helps to not have a job so my writing and homework is the only real distraction right now.

    I ramble. Good luck to you.

  2. My critique group meets every two weeks and we read aloud then critique right there. That works the best for me. If I had to do it on my own time, it would probably never get done.

    Finding the balance is always such a difficult thing and it is never the same for any two people. Good luck in finding yours.

  3. Gosh - it really is a difficult line to straddle! I remember my first (and last) critique group and it was all I could do to keep up with the pieces I was supposed to critique and my own. And that was before blogging, my course and I didn't (and don't) have an immediate family to care for. So it must be doubly difficult for you especially when you are a working mum and wife and householder too.

    I guess there's no harm in admitting to your group that you are currently feeling overwhelmed? They should understand if they're fab people? I think it's not overstretching yourself too. I think I agree with your other commentators - finding a balance and finding what works for you is all important.

    Good luck!

    Take care

  4. I do a little of both everyday! Good luck with balancing it! The process of critiquing another's work actually helps me when I return to my own writing.

  5. I guess I solve that problem by not critiquing other's work. I have several test readers for mine, but I don't belong to a critique group. Right now I'm trying to write, promote, blog, work, and spend time with my wife - that's enough!

  6. I'm sure it would help me a TON to have a crit group but I honestly don't have the time. I write because I love it and I already have guilt over writing with children crawling on me. After I've hit the print button once for me AND read it aloud to my husband, I pass it on to a great friend of mine who gives critique. At that point (where I am on two projects) I've stuffed them in the closet for a month or two while I do something completely different. Hopefully the time away will give me a more critical eye.
    Good Luck finding the balance. We ALL struggle with it.

  7. Actually, I'm trying to forget my teenage years. Yikes!

    But, I've found that after I've pulled out my guilt glands, the pain I've felt from abandoning my family during edits has lessened substantially. Just joking...

    For me, I've had to set a strict schedule. I only write for so much (after my children are asleep) and only edit others work for a set time. It helps with the guilt. Not completely, but it helps.


  8. It really is all incredibly difficult. There are only so many hours in the day. I've only got 2 crit buddies, and we all go through light nad heavy cycles with our work. We've just learned to do our best and not stress each other out. You've got to be honest.

  9. I've been in a critiquing group for years. There have been days when I've come away from group wondering if I was any type of a writer at all, but as the years have gone by I've realized that they have helped me become a better writer. They are there to help me as I am there to help them. We meet weekly to read the pages we need help with, so those few hours are devoted to them.

    Every writer needs to find what works for them whether it's a critique group or going it alone. For me, I want the feedback. :)

  10. *hugs* This is hard.

    I usually only do beta trades where both of us have something fairly polished. I set a page number to do a day so that I'll be finished with it in around a month or so. Polished stories are easier and quicker for me to go through than alpha reads.

    The biggest secret I've learned is that I never find time, I have to make it. I treat my writing more as a business than as something that keeps me sane--although it does that too. I have daily word count goals that are reachable but still make me stretch. It works out that I have to rest often, because I write while my body rejuvenates. :)

  11. I'm struggling with this right now myself. This is how I rationalize it. There's this concept called "the cost of doing business." Our business is writing. The cost is that we must not only create great works, but we also must contribute to the writing community if we want them to participate with us.
    What I've done is to basically ignore the feedback until I'm ready to work on that particular chapter, so it might sit on my desk for a month before I even get to it. That way I can focus on what I'm currently doing, but still gather the feedback I need.

    Speaking of which, still looking for a couple beta readers/CP's. ;)

  12. It's a great way of putting it. It can definitely get overwhelming. One thing I think helps is a little distance--look at the critiquing, not as for THEM (even though it is) but for you. Every time I get elbows deep in somebody else's stuff, I spot stuff in my own that I was just too close to see before.

    As for INCORPORATING suggestions: I try to do it holistically--take several all at once--read your work fresh, read all the critiques, and then mark what makes sense and what doesn't--everyone has their own idea on fixes, when OFTEN, what you want to do isn't use their idea, but change to some SEPARATE idea that hits at the spirit of their fix, but is totally yours--or sometimes a reader just has a different opinion from everybody else. Good luck!

  13. I think that when you go to a critique session, you need to listen with half an ear. Kind of hear what you want to hear. I know, it sounds like you are only listening for positive things, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is stay true to your story. Others may have different interpretations than you do that may just not fit what you are doing. If you feel like you are headed in the right direction, maybe you are. It doesn't hurt to listen to advice and sometimes say thanks, but no thanks, I like where I'm going.
    On the other hand, don't be suprised if people in your group don't always agree with what you have to say either.
    The fairy in the egg is adorable.

  14. Wow, thank you for your comments, I really appreciate them all. It's wonderful to hear how my fellow author kin get along in the writing world.

    There really should be a national holiday dedicated to writers, don't you think??

    ((hugs)) to everyone! ;)

  15. It's a challenge to find time for all of it. If I had it figured out, I could write a book! Good thing you've got lots of hair, so when you pull it out, you'll still have some left. ;)

  16. LOL, Michelle! That's a good thing, too, isn't it?? :D Thank you for dropping by.

  17. *Sigh* I feel guilty taking time to blog or work on my wip when I have critiques to do. That's partly why my blog has suffered so much! I love reading and critiquing. I don't know how not to feel guilty for working on my own stuff, though.

    By the way, thank you so much for the award! I'm terrible at putting them on my blog, but I wanted to thank you and tell you how much I appreciate it! You're such a sweetheart!

  18. Hi Cutie! How's the little cutie pie doing? He's such a sweetie pie! <3 I know how you feel about working on our own stuff. *sigh*

    You're so welcome for the award--it's okay, I understand. Online live and real life drive me crazy!!! ((Hugs))

    I can't wait to see you this coming May. You are coming, right? :D

  19. Fortunately there's only three people (including me) in my crit group. I think that helps us to be productive and crit each other's work at the same time.


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