When I first started writing my manuscript I refused to let anyone read it. My ultimate fear was: 1. My writing sucked and 2. No one took my idea of writing a book seriously and that would be obvious in their opinions. As I interacted with some fellow writers on social media, I met others who felt the same as I did and the idea came about to exchange chapters of our w.i.p. Surprisingly, the experience was not as daunting as I thought and we provided each other with excellent feedback.
The idea of letting someone read your incomplete writing piece is uncomfortable but you can honestly gain a great deal of knowledge and experience by letting others read what you are writing before you even begin to edit. Letting a stranger read what ever your writing is even better because you don’t have to worry about them sparing your feelings as they will most likely give you the cold, hard truth of what they think.
Here are three reasons why you should exchange your work in progress with other writers you don’t know:
1. Gives You a Head Start On Your Editing
When I let one of my writing buddies that I met via blogging read my w.i.p. I was about half way finished. I would exchange two to three chapters at a time with her and would regroup after a week of reviewing each other’s stories. While discussing what we each read over the phone, I took notes on each of my chapters she read.
By allowing someone else to read my manuscript in the early stages, when I finished my manuscript and began the editing process, it made things a lot easier because I was able to get the point of view of someone else rather than solely rely on my own opinions, making it clear as to what things I needed to work on such as dialogue and descriptions. I even allowed my boyfriend to read the first few edited chapters and he said they were much better than before.
2. Great Way to Network
Exchanging chapters with other writers almost guarantees the establishment of beta readers. Already, the few people I have swapped chapters with have agreed to be my beta readers when the time comes and I agreed to be theirs.
The other benefit of letting writers read your w.i.p is they can introduce you to their own writing buddies. One of my beta readers started a Google Group which included writers that she met online and was also exchanging chapters with. That allowed for us to interact with other writers and grow our network.
3. Prepares You for What’s to Come
Your manuscript is your baby, I know but criticism is going to be inevitable (unless you decide not to publish it… DON’T DO THAT). Having someone read part of your manuscript during the early stages will give you an idea of what it feels like to have someone potentially dislike a part of your story.
That might seem harsh but when it’s time to send your manuscript to an editor or to beta readers, not everyone is going to like it, but it’s not the end of the world and you’ll eventually realize that.
Let Your Writing Guard Down
Exchanging your writing whether it be chapters, poems, or a whole manuscript to other writers in the pre-editing stages is not as scary as it seems. In fact, it gives writers the opportunity to build relationships, receive useful feedback and get a taste of how it feels to have your work criticized.
For the most part, when you are letting other writers read your work and vice versa, they are not there to destroy your self esteem and rip apart your masterpiece. They are in the same boat that you are in and want to likewise improve their writing skills.
Did you let anyone read your manuscripts in the early stages of your writing? What scares you the most about letting others read your w.i.p?