Saturday, January 9, 2010

Should You Tell People About Your WIP?

Girl Reading--Eugen Spiro-1874-1972 “So, what are you working on now?”

Do you mind telling people about your WIP (work in progress)? Or does it make you grit your teeth when they ask? Do you wonder why people never ask accountants what they’re working on?

Usually, if you’re out of the writing closet, this is a question that you’re going to get from time to time. I get it pretty frequently from acquaintances who know I write.

Upside of telling them:

You get ideas—If I tell you about my WIP or you’re a first reader and you offer some ideas? I’m not shy about taking them. Sometimes you can even adapt an idea and change it into something really useful. Both Dorte and Hart have given me great ideas for two separate books (one a Myrtle, one a Memphis.) I love ideas. And they’ll be in my acknowledgments section!

You get accountability—The next time you see this person, they’re likely again to ask (right after they finish commenting on the weather), “So how is that book going? The one with the murdered supper club guest. Have you finished it yet?”

You get encouragement—“That’s a cool idea for a book. Where do you get your ideas from?”


You might not have fully formed the plot yet. You might not be able to really even say what exactly it’s about. So you halfway describe it and the person you’re talking to looks confused. Because it is confusing—it’s not a solidified plot.

You might not be in the spot where you want to share your WIP’s plot because it’s malleable. And you don’t want it transformed before you figure out where you’re trying to go with it.

When you share your idea, some people may criticize it or appear disinterested when you tell them about it. When it’s in the formative stages, that’s not fun. Then you start second-guessing your plot.

Accountability in a negative way. I’ve told people about WIPs that later ended up in my manuscript graveyard. Then every time I see these particular people, they ask about it. And it’s been 1 1/2 years since I even picked the darned thing up. I’ll tell them I put it aside to work on something else (something I was paid to write, which is always given a priority!) and they’ll say, “But I really liked that idea!” I want to tell them they’re free to write it…

Reading this over, it looks like I’m seeing more of the downside to WIP sharing. I wouldn’t have said that, going into this post. Maybe it just depends on the person I’m sharing the info with. If he’s a writer, that’s one thing (he’d understand.) If I’m sharing with non-writers? Maybe I should keep it vague.

Do you tell people what you’re working on?