stop shouting

There are voices in my head. They won’t stop talking. Not good voices, not my characters, and certainly not my own.

I’m lost in my writing.

I can’t find my intention anymore with my wip. I feel like I’m writing for a thousand people and not myself. Everyone’s shouting at me, telling me how my novel should be, what they want from it.

ok, this is not really happening. It’s only happening in my head, I admit, but it certainly feels real.

I’ve changed so many things in the first 70 pages that I feel I don’t recognize my story anymore. I’m forgetting how it was born, what it was meant to be. Change is good, change is great, but it’s supposed to bring my story more to itself, and I don’t know what that is anymore.

Feedback is invaluable, and I’ve learned so much from my group. I’ve always thought that writer’s need feedback, and I think they still do, however, I’m seeing that feedback needs to be received at the right moment. I feel like I’m at a stage where I need to withdraw, pull away from my critique group, and from all feedback, and just listen to myself. Or is it that what I really need to do is  change the way I’m listening to the feedback?

We all need help, an outsiders eye. The thought of taking a hiatus from feedback is scary, and I wonder if it would be disadvantageous to do so.

Any thoughts?

18 thoughts on “stop shouting

  1. Jen, you have only to take what you want from the voices in your group. Your story is strong, and stronger still in the new version. That said, feedback shouldn’t overwhelm. It isn’t supposed to cloud your vision of what your book is meant to be. Or what it means to you. It is only supposed to take your vision and show you what it looks like to someone else. But in the end, it must be yours. Take what you want. Try a suggestion, change a point of view, a voice, but never delete the original. Pick and choose between your gut and your feedback until your vision of the novel dances off the paper for us all. And if we’re shouting, just ask us to whisper. K.

    1. Hi Karen. Thanks for the comment, and the support. You guys were great at the meeting!

      I found that what I needed to do was tell the voices not only to whisper, but I needed to ban them all, including my own, and just listen.


  2. I’m a firm believer in listening to your inner voice. Critique groups are alright…to a point. Many published writers don’t advocate for them. IMHO, I think, they can hinder more than they help and you if you listen to all of the voices in the group, your voice may be lost. Your writing will not be your own, it will be theirs–their voice, their ideas. Especially if you are offering up your work as the pages are written. No. It is your story. Critiquing and editing are not for when the words are flowing. Follow your heart and listen to YOUR voice and write YOUR story. Trust yourself.

    1. Thanks writernubbin.
      Trust youself, you say. Yes, I think this is very important. Without this trust we don’t listen when things are good, even very good, and in my case I wasn’t listening when I knew I was wrong.

  3. I agree with Karen and writernubbin. Too much feedback can indeed drown you. Your story should always feel like yours. I lost Brevity for a while because I listened too much to others voices and too little to mine. I hope you find your way back soon.

    1. Thanks, Duke. Sorry so behind on my comments!!

      I wasn’t happy with my piece for some time, I just didn’t really know why….it always seems so obvious afterwards.

  4. I felt the same way while I was submitting my chapters on an online workshop. I even created a different novel out of it because of the ideas that the feedback put into my head. I’ve learned quite a bit from it, and have taken a break to write it the way I want it to be. Reading the writing fiction books has helped me when I get lost in my storyline. I hope you find ‘your’ story again. 🙂

    1. One of the wonderful things about blogging is finding that others have similar experiences as us 🙂

      We’ve discussed writing books quite abit on this blog, Jennifer. WOndering if you have a favorite?

  5. I’m not sure I’ll be able to explain this in a concise way, but I’ll give it a go …

    I think critique groups can derail in two ways. First, there is a tendency to group think … one person makes a comment and another who hadn’t thought of that agrees, but then adds on … it can spiral out of control to what feels like 100s of voices. The other thing is the group structure itself. The novel is not being read as one would normally read, at least in the groups I’ve participated in. One week the group reads 3 chapters, then there’s a several week gap before it’s your “turn” again. In my experience, it tends to make people want more info up front, which is not good for the story, because they’re left hanging.

    At any rate, it helped me to dismiss suggestions about how to make the story “work” and try to focus on what people said that made me realize they weren’t “getting” something and so I needed to strengthen certain aspects of character, scene, etc.

    This is probably murky and completely biased by my experiences, but in the end, I now prefer two or three beta readers, and much further along in the process, never for a first draft.

    1. Cathryn, when I read your comment (all those days ago, so sorry I’m soooo behind!), it made perfect sense, and I thank you for the response.
      I do find that being part of a group is a big responsibility. I have to be so aware when commenting that I’m not projecting what I want into it, and now I’ve learnt how to keep it my own.
      Beta readers, I haven’t had any yet. How do you find them?

  6. I forget when I was born.
    I’m not exactly sure what my parents intended me to be but I turned out all right and they are rather happy with me.
    I’ve held several different jobs but in essence they’ve all been approximately the same. Therefore, I know what field I am good in.
    Several people have provided me with guidance and suggestions on how my life could be better. I listen to everyone respectful, pay close attention to those I trust and love the most, and in the end make my own decisions.
    I wonder how the rest of my life will turn out. I reflect occasionally on the past. I deeply concentrate on the present.

    I am very much like the stories that I write.
    And you?

    1. Thanks tikiman, I appreciate the comment. One of the questions I asked myself when trying to find my voice again, was not what it was, but what is my novel now?

      I’m liking my story now !!!

  7. I agree with what others have said, go ahead and pull back from the feedback process. During the writing you should write to please yourself, to tell the story you want to tell. Then later when you get feedback only follow that which reinforces the story you’re trying to tell. I hope you get back into your groove!
    – Sophia.

    1. Sophia, I’m at a closer end stage of the novel. The draft I’m submitting is third I think. I spend so much time with each wip, especially this one, having so many breaks from it (due to pregnancy, new baby, etc), that I think I never gave myself time to reconnect with it and re-learn what it was. I’ve done that now!!

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