Monday, August 17, 2009

Give it Your All

As writers, we have responsibilities. To our readers and to ourselves.

To our readers we owe the very best we have to give.

This means don't let those rough patches of narrative slide. Whether it means they're blah and not emotionally charged or the structure needs attention or whatever. Fix them. Same with stilted lines of dialogue, spots of redundancy, and anything else that catches your eye as you read through your work again and again.

When you think you've caught and fixed them all, let it sit at least 24 hours. Longer if possible. Read it again. I guarantee you'll change at least one thing - even if it's only spotting an excess space or a stray comma.

To ourselves we owe the very best we have to give.

Last week I talked a little about taking care of ourselves and our relationships. Today I want to talk about taking care of our mental and emotional health.

I recently finished a long edit. It became doubly involved because of our move to San Antonio, which meant it took at least a jillion more hours than it should have. Don't try that at home! It's dangerous.

Anyway by the time I finished reading the manuscript through after the edit, I questioned if the story was good . . . or not. Do not let your mind go there! That's dangerous territory as well. It's either good or it isn't. If you've given your work the best you have to give - and I knew I had - then it is as good as you can make it at this point in your writing career. Let it go.

Don't dwell on the negative.

Look forward.

Build up energy and optimism.

Begin a new project.

And that's it. Sounds simple, right?

Try it. It is!

4 comments:

Laura Eno said...

Ah, simple...

Excellent advice about letting it sit. I can't see the holes if I can still recite it, word for word.

It's much harder to keep the doubt at bay, when you've read it a jillion times though.

Carol Kilgore said...

I know about the doubt.

When I start a project, I'm in love with it. It's the best ever. When I finish, I know where all the warts are. I feel it wasn't worth all the time and effort.

That's when you MUST let it go. Otherwise, it will eat you alive.

Move to another project. Fall in love with it.

Send the finished one out to jump in the pool. It will sink or swim.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I recently finished a project and that's exactly how I felt. I sent it off to the publisher so I wouldn't be tempted to hit the delete button!

Jack W. Regan said...

Good advice, Carol. Letting it go...so difficult. And, yeah, when the WIP is young, it's flawless. As it ages, all we can see are flaws. I know exactly what you're talking about. Thanks for the encouragement.