/dusts off her small box and climbs on top
Ahem. This rant, writers of non-repute, is for you and your incessant received writing advice.
There is a thing called too much advice. If you're on your first draft, if you haven't taken the weed whacker to the selection, or had a chance to finish the arc to see where it goes... how can you get advice that's truly valuable? Good advice about a story is precious, and requiring someone to validate your writing every chapter won't help you accomplish anything except angst, and we writers have enough of that.
I know how you feel when you have a WiP. The excitement and madness of writing down your heart's thoughts and your head's emotions. The thrill of racing along with your protagonist as you're swept into their story is beyond compare. And who can blame you? For you, the story is crystal clear.
You've written your first chapter, or perhaps the entire novel, and that little voice, the who's so proud of your work and yet desires some advice speaks up. It tells you to get out there and get people engaged in your piece. Perhaps a Hooked contest over at Authoress's blog, or a writing forum; maybe even the coveted writing group.
To see if you're you're headed in the right direction, of course.
I mean, it was written for you and others to enjoy, right? A little advice and some compliments in one go - how bad could it be?
Let me give you an example from a fellow writer I know. She's a good writer, is free with her writing advice and time for others, and has a wonderful WiP that's shaping up nicely. My friend recently relayed an incident to me where she asked for people in this writing blog group she's in to give her critiques on her WiP. She got 18 people giving feedback on the entire thing.
18 - gosh, she must feel incredible, right? So many people came and gave advice on her piece! And as it turned out, she had several people remark on the same thing, and did find something useful.
The problem, however, was that verbal flood overwhelmed her. While some of the advice was good, just as much of it wasn't. There were people who didn't know how to act like professionals, and there were so many specifics that by the end she felt like she had to please everyone. It became frustrating and depressing to read - knowing when to not listen to unprofessional people still doesn't stop you from feeling down about it.
I know many people say the advice helps them to improve their writing, and I'm not saying advice should never be sought - it should only be sought after you've put it through the wringer and your writing is ready to be viewed by the public for final tweaking. Stephen King calls those people Ideal Readers; an apt phrase.
The thing is, until you've had a chance to sit and sweat over your writing a few times, any adivce you get will be moot, as you'll end up changing the whole darn thing anyways.
Another example: a second friend of mine recently had the first part of her chapter 1 put up for critiques on a board. The dozen or so comments that followed were about as useful as an umbrella with a hole in it. Vague comments about how they didn't like or liked it, with only one person pointing out any specifics was a total wash from her. She knew her first chapter needed some work, but all she found out was that it didn't work for most people. Oh, and the place two people wanted her to start at was trite and overdone for her genre.
If you take the time to sit with your story and look it over, you can figure out yourself the extensive rewrites you'll need to get the much-valued second chapter. All the advice in the world may or may not give you ideas and help, but it'll be their ideas, not yours. Your piece is your creation for so long before people start putting their mark on it - go through it at least twice on your own before delving to the outside realms.
You yourself, and the fact that you stuck your butt in the seat every day to finish the 60k-200k monstrosity is validation. Every day you go back and chip away at the boulder of a bad scene, or use your plot hole shovel, or wield those slice and dice knives - that is validation.
If you need permission to brag, you have it. Less than half of the people who say they'll write a novel end up starting it, let alone finishing a first draft.
When that voice starts speaking up, smack it with a stick. I'm serious. Advice is always a two-edged sword, and putting a piece out somewhere that's not ready to go will give you bad jujus.
Patience, young padawan. You'll know when the time is right to pass out those copies for others to read. Find those ideal readers, the ones whose advice you can trust won't steer you off into stereotypes or change your writing style.
Your writing and you - the best duo in the world. Keep it that way.