How Much Input Do You Like While Writing?

I like all the input I can get while I’m writing. I’m all about absorbing the ideas, creativity, what people want out of a story. Sometimes people are afraid to tell me what they want, because they’re afraid I’ll a.) let it influence my creative process too much, b.) intentionally do the opposite, or c.) take all of their hopes and dreams and shove them off a cliff. (Fear of plagiarism runs rampant occasionally.)

When I’m picking people’s brains for ideas, I’ll sometimes preface (no, the opposite of preface… anteface? postface?)… Anyway, I’ll sometimes conclude a conversation with “Is it OK if I use this in my writing?”

If you have snarky friends/family like mine, they’ll start calculating the percentage of your Someday Royalties that you should give them for the sublime privilege of using their ideas or words. You should promptly punch them in the shoulder and hand them a dime.

On the whole, people will be flattered that you’re consulting them and that you value their opinions and ideas enough to consider them for your work.


As different as readers can be, writers are just as varied.


When Twin Sister (Twister? Yes.) is writing, she doesn’t like ANY input. She wants the ideas to formulate in her own brain without anyone interfering. Twister has mentioned that it feels like she’s cheating when she uses other people’s ideas.

I used to agree with Twister back when I first started writing. I wasn’t confident in my own storytelling abilities, and I didn’t want what I wrote to be the product of someone else’s vision.  Over time, I built up a molehill-shaped mountain of egosphere-height confidence (challenged in their colossal attitude only by the depth of their crippling self-doubt valleys).

I started worrying that if I wrote books with only myself in mind, I could be missing out on what others want. I’m only one person. And somehow I’m supposed to write all these other characters who are decidedly not me. Writing is hard.

For me, talking to other people about my ideas involves them (and makes them more likely to want to read it later) and it allows me to get a sense of what it’s like in their shoes both as a human and a reader.


So what about you? How do you feel about input? Does it vary from writing to revision stage? Do you have people that are pushy or too tentative with their ideas?


5 thoughts on “How Much Input Do You Like While Writing?

  1. I value the input from other writers. My friends don’t understand it because they don’t write. So when I talk to them about my writing they just seem to think that I sit at the computer all day, the words flow easy, I hand it to a publisher and say, “Publish this, please.” They do it, and then I become rich and famous.

    • I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND! I think my family thought that until I spent a summer with them during college and I wrote everyday. It went 60% complaining about plot holes and how to fix them, 15% researching things, and 15% writing. When I get the chance, I’ll call up a family member instead of Google.

  2. usually, i’m with Twister – though I do appreciate input once that initial draft is outta my head. sometimes though, i’ll have an idea that is just too nebulous and i need to talk about with another writer i respect or another writer who may have done something in a similar vein to help me bring it into focus.

    • That’s when I like talking to people, when a nebulous idea won’t settle down. The most important part is to know when to listen to people and take their advice, and when to let your own ideas dominate the playing field.

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