Should You Post The Story While You’re Writing It?

Should you share parts of your story while writing it, or wait to finish writing the whole thing before sharing it?

This is a question I’ve seen debated on and off in the writing community. As someone who’s done both “sharing as you’re writing” and “waiting to finish before sharing,” I thought I can add my two cents to the conversation.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this topic, since I answered a related question on Tumblr years ago. My answer to that question has changed a lot since then, however.

GIF of someone checking off items on their to-do list on a clipboard.

Why Do I Finish Writing Whole Pieces First?

For those who are newer to my writing process and my work, I currently like to wait to finish writing entire pieces before sharing them.

Examples include literally every poem or short story that I have published in lit mags, as well as all of my novels at this time of writing.

There’s a good reason for this: Virtually every literary magazine you submit to wants finished works to publish. They don’t want to see you go through three more rounds of edits before they publish it in their magazine, or else it will never get published. Some might make an exception and let you resend a version with new edits. This is especially the case if the magazine editors request a specific edit before they agree to publish it. However, those exceptions are very rare.

As for my self-published novels, I want to make sure each of them are fully completed products. That includes making sure each book has proper formatting, spelling, and grammar.

Additionally, I want to make sure the book feels like it’s a finished final product because that’s what readers expect when picking up books to read. They don’t generally want to read drafts in progress, or find a whole page full of grammatical errors.

Of course, there are probably some readers that are exceptions to the rule. Some authors are comfortable posting their drafted-but-not-completed works through platforms like Patreon, Ko-Fi, etc. Fans who want to see their next full product in-progress will grow interest in that eventual final product.

Caption reads: Creative Stages. The gif is of a man sitting at his desk trying to write, with great frustration.

The Cons Of Posting Too Early

However, I’m personally not as comfortable with this method. Firstly, the risk of plagiarizing is high if you show off your work early.  There will always be some people who might try to plagiarize your work and pass it off as their own. And with the rise of AI, that doesn’t help the situation.

If you show your work too soon in the writing process without it being complete yet, some fans might just lose interest early and not care about the final product.

I’ve seen this happen before with books that take literal years to complete. The same goes with video games, TV shows, etc. when their production schedules are delayed multiple times for various reasons. At some point, those fans might lose interest later on between delayed updates. I’m also guilty of never completing several fanfics, too.

Another con of posting your WIP too early is if you run out of inspiration, hit a creative block, or life gets in the way. Granted, this happens to a lot of us creatives in a variety of ways. However, it’ll be harder to post updates and installments if you’re sharing your work while still writing it at the same time. 

When It’s Good To Post That Work-In-Progress:

However, there are exceptions to waiting to get specific things done before publishing them. One of those examples are serials. Serials are when a single larger work, often a work of narrative fiction, is published in smaller, sequential instalments. They’re meant to be consumed in these smaller installments a bit at a time.  Because they’re deliberately formatted in that way, it makes sense to keep posting that work for others to read while writing. 

Others post their work-in-progress to not just build reader interest as I mentioned earlier. They also do this to get feedback sooner. This might mean, for example, that you post your work to Patreon or share it with a limited amount of beta readers. Those beta readers can then give you feedback on your work.

If you wait until the final product to share it with any prospective readers, there might be things that you missed in the final product. Readers would not be happy with that. Posting rough drafts as you go to beta readers or a select group of people is a great way to get feedback sooner. With that feedback, you can get revisions done before you release the final copy for everyone to see.

GIF of a cute dog watering a plant. The words written beside it read "Still growing."

The Key To Maintaining Reader Interest? Consistency.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about maintaining reader interest is being consistent with posting or sharing your work. This applies to both waiting to share your work until it’s in its final form, or posting new updates and installments as you go, 

For finished works, that might mean publishing a new book every year or two years. I’ve heard of some authors that publish up to seven or eight books a year. I find this extremely impressive (and mildly terrifying) and they have my respect for that.

Consistency might also mean making sure you have several updates/chapters planned beforehand. This way you can post them, even if life gets in the way or you get a bit creatively blocked later. Being consistent with your work might also include making sure to write a set amount of words/pages/chapters every day. Or you could make a commitment to have a blog post, newsletter, or update posted every week. How you figure out what’s the most consistent depends on each person.

How Do I Stay Consistent?

For me, I’ve learned to fill the time in-between self-publishing books to stay consistent. This includes getting my shorter works published in lit mags and collections. This is so readers can still access my work in some form and read that between my larger works. It’s also a reason I send newsletters to inboxes twice a month, and post monthly writing updates and bi-weekly book reviews on my blog. 

Previously, I spent that time trying to fill the void with posting fanfiction. I would also include more frequent updates if they were multichapter fics. However, I’ve mostly stopped the fanfiction updates due to a lack of ideas at this time of writing. 

Whether you’re posting your work while it’s in progress or posting final works only, what matters most is that you’re consistent with it.


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