By: Ren Westerman
Now I've likely talked on this before several times if not at least once, but it has been on my mind quite a bit lately and it's something that we as writers should and do think about on a regular basis.
There's always the question of what should I do next. Maybe you're working on developing a character. Maybe instead you're focusing on plot. Perhaps you're in editing. Take it to the beginning and there's the possibility that your piece is simply a concept in your head.
It can be intimidating to take that next step regardless of where you are at in the creative process. Do you move onto that next chapter or do you look back at what you've written so far? Do you do, what I often end up doing, and erase entire chunks of your piece to explore a different narrative? At the bottom line, writing is a constant decision making process.
I've received several emails, both inside and outside of the journal, regarding the 'post-writing' process. Should I put my work out there for the world to see? What will they think of it? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Is it even worth it?
Now there are obviously those pieces in our lives that we write as personal treasures. We write them and find that they hold this unmeasurable significance in our lives as artifacts of who we are. There's no doubt in my mind that it might be difficult for someone to put something that precious out into the viewing world.
I like to think of this sort of situation as a gamble of sorts. That might not seem all too intuitive, and it probably isn't, but it bears some truth. The fact of the matter is that not everyone is going to like everything you write. That's a given of human nature. We each have unique beliefs and ideals that give us our different preferences when it comes to the material that we read. The opposite is also true. Now it isn't going to be an exact 50 / 50 split of likes to dislikes. And not every 'Like' is a good thing whereas not every 'Dislike' is a bad thing. But there will be someone out there who enjoys your piece just as there will be someone out there who doesn't. Call it bittersweet, but there's also something poetic to it.
At this point there is a certain, for lack of a better word I'll use 'responsibility, on behalf of the author / creator of the piece. When you put your work out there for the world to see, I have found that it is helpful to have a purpose nestled in the back of your mind when you make the decision to publish your piece. What do you want your piece to accomplish in its published form. I often find that regardless of the piece, I am more than willing to accept criticism across the board whether it's praise or otherwise because that helps me to take a step back and analyze my writing. Perhaps that's the purpose you choose as well. Depending on the piece, I'll often have at least two or three different things that I would like it to accomplish.
Regardless of the feedback you get from critiques, you can use these purposes to establish for yourself whether or not you feel your piece accomplished what you hoped it would. If it does, that's great. If it doesn't, don't worry. Part of being a writer is facing that constant battle of trial and error, writing and rewriting, etcetera. If one piece doesn't go well, use that as a milestone and learn from it. Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can offer on this, though it is cliche, stay true to who you are as a writer. As a writer myself, I value the ability to put my voice into my writing. While advice can be helpful, don't lose yourself in it. If you begin to twist and tear apart your piece to fit every bit of advice you ever receive, you ultimately lose a part of your voice as well. I'm not saying to avoid advice like the plague, but accept it and disregard it wisely. Always remember that you are the author, and you are in control of whether or not you take that next step.