Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #113

Guest blogger Mercedes Murdock Yardley on well-meaning advice that, well, sucks...

Never let somebody say that you're aiming too high. They're misguided and may be trying to protect you, but they don't realize that they're crushing your creative spirit. Above all, be gracious when you prove them wrong.

Dixon says: Wonderful advice, Mercedes, and it got me thinking about the general topic of who to show your work to. I've heard it said, "Never show a work in progress to anyone you're currently sleeping with." Of course, I know a few writers where that doesn't narrow the field much.

It's easy to climb up the steps of a podium and announce rules, and often they only work for certain people at certain times, but here's an honest attempt: (1) Don't show your drafts to someone unless you've already seen that person provide balanced criticism - by which I mean pointing out not only the elements that need fixing, but also the aspects that are working beautifully. (2) Don't show it to someone you're in a relationship with, if there's a chance that person will clobber you over the head with it, the first time you show up late for dinner with beer on your breath. (3) Don't show it to anyone not in the publishing biz, unless you're ready for a bunch of really stupid questions and terrible advice.

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