Be Gentle, Part One: Test Readers & Anxiety Attacks

After completing my index card experiment, I put the idea into action and started writing. It took a few days, but I finally produced my first full chapter draft, just shy of ten thousand words. I talk too much.

I gave it one quick polish for pace, grammar, and punctuation, and then asked myself the most dangerous question: “Who am I going to show it to?”

At first, it wasn’t so much fear of judgment as it was fear of self-sabotage. The internet is full of paranoid career writers who will waste no time in telling you that even the smallest leak is enough to sink a ship. By that logic, of course, no one can enlist beta readers ever ever ever never. I sat at my desk at work, agonizing, flash drive in hand. Two of my coworkers have been waiting patiently as I labor away on this project, convinced that the act of waiting for it will make it happen. The pressure has helped, strangely enough.

The first day, I kept my silence. My paranoia won. On the second day, I knew something must be done to overcome! Before my coworker could put her bag down at her desk, I exploded. “HEYGOODMORNINGIFINISHEDCHAPTERONEHOWWASYOURWEEKEND!”

After helping my finesse crawl back through the window, I prepared she and my other confidant for test reading, phase one. With shaking hands (completely literally), I copied the file onto another hard drive and pressed the sticks carefully into each of their computers. I took a quivering breath, returned to my desk, and watched my heart rate rattle on my fitness watch…

Tell me about the first time you had enough finished product to need a second opinion. How did you feel about letting another person read something you’d otherwise be keeping secret until publishing? If you have never done this, speculate or explain why.

The Week Three topic asks you to share a dark secret.

Reading and voting for Week Two will be available soon for participation!


About RicoChey

I'm just an unmarried, childless, thirty-something high school dropout with big ideas and a small attention span. Weave drunkenly behind me as I meander through my own life: a winding path of musings on life, relationships, food, the few politics I can stomach discussing, and probably really dumb stuff like the ratio of Sex and the City episodes wherein Carrie does and does not appear to be wearing extensions.
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3 Responses to Be Gentle, Part One: Test Readers & Anxiety Attacks

  1. Putting aside participation in writing workshops, my first experience was with a friend over beers, each of handing over to the other something upon which to get a second opinion. So one couldn’t really ask for a more supportive situation, yet the heart pounded, the blood flowed away from the extremities, fight or flight* response in full throttle. His opinion meant something to me, and I had such low self-esteem when it came to my writing (and just about everything else), that I was sure he would be disappointed, trapped in that awful place where one must decide how to tell a friend the work sucks. Of course, the notion of ever sending it off to a publisher was a one way trip to full fledged panic attack that it was out of the question.
    *I just read recently (although it is not a recent notion) that the fight-flight response should possibly be rethought and called the fight-flight-freeze response, as many animals as well as we humans will often freeze when danger appears as a way to avoid the danger (if I just don’t move, maybe it won’t notice me). Of course in the human world it happens more often because, say, in a job interview, fighting and fleeing will pretty much mean you won’t get the job.

    Liked by 1 person

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