Peeking over my Shoulder


Peeking ManFor some reason, it bothers me when I’m working on my novel and people are looking over my shoulder. Or, at least I think they’re looking over my shoulder. I’m not sure why this bothers me, but for some reason it’s just something I can’t stand. It’s strange. I mean, as a writer, I base everything on other people reading my work. Therefore, being bothered by someone looking over my shoulder while I write really shouldn’t bother me.

I think it partially may be because I’m worried that whoever is looking won’t take me seriously. They’ll just think “Oh, he must just be messing around writing a little story. He should find something better to do.” That’s is most certainly not the case at all. I can’t think of a whole lot of other things I could be doing that is better than writing. A few, maybe. But, writing is certainly top 5 on my fun things to do list!

Another idea I have is that I want people to read my work when it’s at its best. Not when it’s still in the stage of whatever mindless drivel I have put onto the page. Not that I think my ideas are bad, but how many people are really truly happy with their first draft? I certainly am not; especially with what happened after my last review.

Most of the time when I’m writing in a public setting and there are people around me, I have Word open and zoomed out to the point where I can just barely make out what I’m writing. Either that, or I turn down the screen brightness so you’d have to be looking directly at my screen to see what’s going on. This probably isn’t very good for my writing. Maybe I’m just self conscious about it? I’m not entirely sure.

How do you feel about writing in public? Are you okay with people glancing at whatever you’re writing?

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16 thoughts on “Peeking over my Shoulder

  1. I definitely feel the same way! I dislike writing when I think there’s a chance someone might be reading as I write it. I even try to avoid writing when my boyfriend is in the apartment, though I’m not sure why. I just get really paranoid and self-conscious I guess. I tend to hoard my writing until I think it’s finally “finished”, or at least finished and edited as I can make it before having someone else edit it.

  2. I completely understand your self-consciousness. Writing is baring a sensitive part of ourselves. We only send out our projects when we are ready. Just thinking that someone might be reading a project, that is not ready for public consumption, is aggravating.

    The truth is, most people can’t really read the screen. They are more apt to stare when it’s a news site or sports up on the screen, hoping for free information. What we are writing is, generally, so out of context that they’ll give up – lost.

  3. I’m self-conscious to the point of paranoia when I’m writing. My family and friends stare at my screen just because they know how much it bothers me – I’ll turn my font white or go to 5% zoom or something.

    When someone’s looking over my shoulder, I feel as if they’re being critical of everything I write. Since I can’t write when my own inner critic is hacking away at what I write, it’s that much more intimidating when someone else is watching. I start thinking too much about perfect writing instead of just writing, and suddenly every word I write is awful.

  4. Ha ha, I hate when people look over my shoulder when I am doing anything. Especially playing video games or writing. I think I have performance anxiety, like they will witness me misspell something or whatever. Like that would be the worst thing in the world…

  5. I haven’t had to think about this. My only time to write at the moment is when my toddler sleeps, which is at home. My husband shows little interest in my writing, so never bothers me if I find a moment in the evenings. I used to sit in the library during lunch times typing on my qwerty mobile phone, but I was more worried about me having failed to put it on silent and it making noise than anyone trying to see anything on that tiny screen. I’ll let you know when the kids are grown up and I’m FREE!

  6. Ohhhh yes….I hate it when people watch me while I write. I totally do the “zoom out so the font looks like ants on the screen” thing. (That’s probably why I have huge glasses.)

    Mostly because…1, what I write is private until I declassify it, and 2, my writing’s not meant to be read until it’s finished!

  7. I’m the same way! If someone walks into the room, I flip to my e-mail or something “neutral”. I definitely know my reason, though – I just don’t want anyone reading it until it’s as close to perfect as its going to get.

    • I don’t mind if other people are in the room with me, only if they can see my screen. But I certainly don’t want people seeing my work before it’s perfected!

  8. We don’t usually write in public because we need solitude. Too much noise going on around us and we can’t hear ourselves think, but the times we’ve done it hasn’t bothered us as far as the peeking aspect. We do, however, plot and brainstorm a lot in public places. The biggest risk we run with that is having someone overhear our characters’ murder plots and wonder who we’re killing. Fortunately, no one has ever turned us into the authorites.

    • That certainly would be an interesting situation if someone overheard you plotting murder!

      As for brainstorming in public, I do it ALL the time. I carry around a notebook everywhere I go just in case inspiration strikes when I’m not at my laptop.

  9. I’m fairly paranoid when I write fiction. In public, I’ll angle the screen so that passersby can’t happen to read. At home I prefer to write when everyone else is asleep or otherwise occupied. Doesn’t help that I’m writing a thriller and so when I get in the zone I can be even more paranoid. Gotta watch out for big brother, invisible aliens, or those random cyberspy groups. Can’t be too careful, you know.

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