Work in Progress: How Much Do You Share?

I’ve read the writing advice that one should not “talk about” one’s writing project before the first draft is complete. The idea is that, by talking about it, you’ll dispel some of the urgency, you’ll work through in speech what you would’ve worked out on paper, and that your idea will lose a little bit of its magic.

I try not to be one of those writers who is always yapping about my writing projects to anyone who breathes (luckily, I have a writers group at which we can all mutually yap about writing), but I have to admit that when an interested party presents her or himself, I have a hard time resisting diving right into the details. Last weekend, my fiance asked me how my Rumplestiltskin story was coming along. The seed that became the story came from something he said to me on Skype one night, so he has a bit of a vested interest in this particular tale. So I told him what I’d written already, as well as what I foresaw coming soon. I talked about it a lot, but I didn’t give away the ending.

When I got back home, it felt like it had been the right thing to do. His enthusiasm for what I told him about the story rekindled my enthusiasm for it, and my motivation to work on it. Yet, after I sat down to write a few scenes, I wondered if talking about it had taken away a bit of the crackle of mystery and secrecy that might have propelled me forward even more.

Ultimately, I think that anything that gets you back in your seat to write is a good thing, and this conversation did that for me even if it did dispel a bit of the dramatic tension I felt within myself. I can see where the advice not to talk about your work-in-progress comes from–I think we all know a writer or two who loves to talk about the books they “plan” to write, but who never actually gets anything written–but I also don’t think it applies in every situation, all the time (honestly, what kind of advice does?)

What about you? Do you share details about your work in progress? If so, with whom? And if not, why not?