I was going to write about developing characters next, but another FB chat with Debbie, has sent me in a different direction. (Those of you who have taken real-time classes with me know that this often happens to my very organic and non-linear brain.)
Anyway, she mentioned that she's just starting a novel and is asking people what they think of what she has and the ideas, etc., and wanted to know if I thought that was a good idea at this stage.
My answer is this: everybody is different. Some people won't talk about their book or short story idea until it's done because they need to stay focused and not be distracted by anyone else's opinion of it. I know published authors who don't get feedback about their writing until they submit their novel to their editor. For myself, I'm somewhere in-between. I tend not to talk about pre-formed ideas, unless I'm starting a proposal. Then I'll talk out my plot/theme/etc. thoughts with someone I trust, namely my partner. Once I'm writing, however, I'll take feedback/critique on page one and throughout my writing process... in fact, I thrive on it.
I told Debbie that if she can, she should consider sparing her friends and family the constant "harassment" and start a writers' group. I have found it enormously helpful to have the feedback and support of other people engaged in the same work I'm in. It's not that friends can't be supportive, but other writers will often listen endlessly to the woes very specific to writing -- first rejection pain, etc. In fact, if you're in a writers' group where everyone is submitting and writing, you can actually learn a lot about what to expect once you start sending your stuff out, and you can use your fellow writers a sources of information about which editors they've tried, the responses they've gotten, and all that. It helps soften the blow of that first rejection when you can share the misery, trust me.
So how do you start a writers' group. Well, there are several types of writers' groups you can start, and I'll try to cover them all over the next couple of posts. (I don't want these to get so long they're unreadable.)