Let’s be honest: you can only do so much on your own. Yes, yes, writing, as Ms. Jessamyn West wonderfully pointed out, is a solitary occupation. We know this. But we also know that networking can help abate just how lonely the writers have to feel. And conferences. And going outside to breathe fresh air every once in a while.
The other way of feeling a little less solitary can come from sharing your work with those you trust. I’m not talking writing workshops here—although they can, in certain circumstances, be useful—I’m more thinking a great writing group or trusted friend. Yes, writing groups also have their pitfalls, but finding a really terrific group that will be honest, constructive, and sometimes downright brutal about the shortcomings of your work can be really terrific.
Sure, eventually it might be ideal if you can be paired with an agent, or better yet an editor, who you trust to provide this type of difficult feedback that will ultimately make your work stronger. Before you get to this point, though, it could be really beneficial to have others to weigh in about your writing.
So I ask you, oh trusted readers: what have you found has and has not worked when it comes to sharing your work with others? When it comes to writing for children, do you ever involve actual kids and listen to their reactions? Or is it better to move onward alone? Let us know!