To talk, or not to talk

Do you like to talk about your work as you’re writing it, or do you prefer not to?  I’m of the latter persuasion. 

I generally don’t want to discuss my work until it’s finished, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I firmly believe this takes the edge off the writing.  Part of the excitement is seeing the ‘cooking’ coming together straight from the pen.  If I talk about it, then when I write it I feel like the magic has already happened and the writing is just a pale imitation.  Interesting that this is why some writers don’t plan.  For some reason, I can plan without feeling like I’ve already written it. 

Another reason is that any feedback starts to run interference with my producing skills.  If someone makes suggestions, that’s what I’ll hear when I next sit down to the blank page, along with the usual self criticism and doubts.  It’s so much harder to write with the extra talk going on.  Does this mean I can’t take criticism?  I hope not!  Not if it’s given with tact and compassion, anyway.  I’m all for honesty, but not for ridicule or contempt.  And best leave it for the end, when I’ve already got the story clear in my head.

I’ve known people who love to talk about their work, describing what thrills them about it, where they’re up to and what difficulties they’re having.  It’s wonderful seeing the light in their eyes, and watching them get clarity around where they want to go next!  This causes a bit of a dilemma for me, as it makes me feel ungiving when I decline to talk about my own work.  And there’s only so much one can say without having read the book, so the conversation tends to be a little … well … one-sided.

As always, there’s no right or wrong.  Just some points to consider.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ben Godby
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 23:56:20

    I agree: I never talk about a story until I’m done writing it. If you unleash the words anywhere but on the page, it’s easy for the story to slip away from you. Best to keep it in your head and your heart until you are finished with it.



    • J-A Brock
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 22:43:48

      And isn’t it funny how the first draft seems to have an energy that has to be looked after if you don’t want to lose it in revision? I’d rather have that energy on the page than in someone else’s head! At least in the first instance anyway.


  2. Karen Collins
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 17:18:18

    I’m also a ‘not to talk’ person, at least until after I’ve finished – and I have so many unfinished works, I guess this means I never actually get to talk!


    • J-A Brock
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 22:36:49

      Those unfinished works are probably still cooking, so it’s best not to open the oven and risk a collapse!


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