If you visit author blogs, you’ll occasionally see word count or progress meter widgets. (If you’re not sure what I mean, check out Hugh Howey’s sidebar.)
These widgets are bar graphs that display on our website a word count and/or progress percentage for our in-progress writing projects. Hugh uses this NaNoWriMo Word Meter, but many other options and yet even more options exist.
Authors who use these widgets fall into both published and unpublished camps, as do the authors who don’t use them. I’ve often thought about adding them to my site, but I’ve resisted the notion so far.
My internal debate sparked a question about how writers approach their works in progress. Do you know which side you fall on? *smile*
Do You Share?
For some of us, cool ideas prompt us to want to discuss them with others. Maybe we want to bounce the idea off them to see if the idea is really as cool as we think. Or maybe we want to feed off their excitement.
Some of us share a completed chapter at a time with critique partners or a reading community like WattPad, our blog, or fanfiction sites. Maybe we want near-instant feedback on whether we’ve hit upon an engaging story. Or maybe we want to “crowdsource” plot ideas.
Others of us might let someone in on our plans for accountability reasons. If we want the external pressure of others’ expectations to keep us focused, word count widgets can be a public way of announcing our intentions.
Some published authors share what they’re working on to generate early buzz. Those who write series can use word count widgets to get fans excited as the next entry nears completion.
As with many aspects of writing, there’s no wrong answer. Some of us will be comfortable sharing aspects our work in progress (WIP) in public, and some won’t. However, if we fall into any of the above categories, word count widgets or other avenues of sharing might be a good match for our goals.
Do You Keep Secrets?
Then there are those of us who don’t want to talk about our WIP. We might resist participating in blog hops or Facebook memes where we need to post rough-draft writing or reveal elements of our story or characters.
We might refuse to work with critique groups that analyze each chapter as they’re drafted. We might decide against using pressure from others to be accountable.
We might keep our cool idea secret, because if others aren’t as excited as we are, we’d lose our momentum. Maybe we’d even give it up completely if they thought the idea dumb or too similar to another story. Or maybe we worry about our idea being stolen.
Some of us might hide the fact that we’re writing at all. Maybe we’re wary of judgment, or we don’t want to face questions until we have more of the answers ourselves.
Again, there’s no wrong answer. However, if we fall into any of the above categories, some methods of collecting feedback, some memes, and some discussion topics might make us anxious.
And forget those word count widgets, which might open us up to questions we’re not ready to answer: “When is it going to be done?” “What’s it about?” “Why hasn’t your word count changed in weeks?”
Find What Feels Comfortable for You
Luckily, this isn’t an either/or situation. We can share some aspects and keep others secret. We can share, but only with trusted friends or family members. We can keep secrets, but tease to start buzz. It’s up to us.
Personally, I’ve decided not to use word count widgets (currently). I’m in the midst of shifting priorities to accommodate various writing-related projects, so the widgets wouldn’t mean anything.
For example, right now I’m deep in editing for several stories and that phase doesn’t lend itself to widgets. The editing is done when it’s done—there’s no percentages for the editing passes I go through. (But if you know of progress widgets for other phases like editing, let me know. *smile*)
My Case for Sharing
I have participated in many of the “share your WIP” memes. On Facebook, I’ve posted for both the “share seven lines from page 7 or 77” or “share five things about your protagonist” chains that have been going around the last couple of weeks.
For those, I usually choose a story that’s completely drafted, so it’s already been through my pantser “discovery” phase. I know the story, and I know what’s important and what’s not. That helps me be careful not to reveal too much.
My Case for Secrets
I don’t use critique partners who exchange chapters at a time anymore. I stick with beta readers who get the full story after I’ve completed the draft and am ready to move forward with the next phase of revision.
Even with my family, I don’t talk about my story mid-draft. They’ll get the gist of “it’s about an x heroine and a y hero,” but that’s it.
A lot of that reluctance to talk about a story mid-draft comes down to my “seat of my pants” writing style. I don’t read that sub-genre during drafting either.
I need to be able to listen to my muse/subconscious, my characters, and my story. I couldn’t do that if I was receiving input, advice, or judgmental comments from other stories or people.
So I guess you could say that I walk a middle path. I’m extremely close-lipped during drafting and somewhat open about certain aspects during the revision/editing phase. That middle ground works for me. Do you know what works for you? *smile*
Do you discuss your WIP with others at the brainstorming phase? The drafting phase? The editing phase? Not until it’s ready to be published? What are your reasons for following that policy? Did I miss any pros or cons for the options? Do you use word count widgets on your site? If so, what are your reasons for using them?Pin It