There’s so much to learn when writing a book, and even more to master when editing.
Not only do you have to be proficient in structuring plots, invoking the five senses, adding tension, writing realistic dialogue, and showing instead of telling, you also need to know what words to delete and which darlings to revive.
After doing all of that and more, you may end up with a finished book. You might even like that finished book.
When that happens, you need to convince yourself that you can do this, that you have done it, and keep in mind these reminders…
Your Story Is Only Boring To You
Repeat it. Print it out. Frame it. Hang it on your wall.
Your story is only boring to you!
It’s easy to forget when your twenty drafts deep, working on your fifth solid straight month of edits or staring at an inbox full of rejections, but that story you’ve read a million times is interesting. You’ve just forgotten because you know every twist, every line of dialogue, and how every cliffhanger starts and ends. People who haven’t read your book don’t—and they will be thrilled by all your surprises.
It Only Needs To Be As Perfect As You Can Make It
Your book will never be perfect. The sooner you accept that the easier your life will be. It also only has to be as perfect as you can make it.
Forget about trying to get it to the standard of what it “should” be. We all write and edit uniquely and have different ideas of what “perfect” is. Weave your words to the best of your ability—that’s as good as perfect.
Others Won’t Fix Your Work For You
Yes, it took months, even years, to take that initial idea and turn it into pages of words. You wrote it and deserve a medal—or at the very least some chocolate—but the hard work isn’t over.
You’ve to take those words and any feedback from betas, critique partners, or readers and fix what doesn’t work.
Sure, you can ask others to give you an idea about the plot, character arcs, and what works and what doesn’t, but they won’t fix those things for you. As tempting as it might be to beg and or pay them to, you are ultimately the person who needs to edit your writing and finish your book to the standard only you can.
If you don’t know how to do that, learn. You’ll be a better writer for it, your book will be the best it can be, and you can give yourself extra chocolate.
You’ve Got To Have Faith
Not in luck or the universe aligning the stars and bringing everything together for you (although that helps), but faith in yourself and your story.
Believing that what you’ve written is strong enough to deserve a public place in the world is what will get you through the writing, edits, and rejections. When you’ve spent months perfecting terrible drafts, battling writer’s block, and words that just won’t flow, that faith chips away. You need to build it back up (again, chocolate can help with this) and remember that your book is as worthy as any other.
What reminders do you give yourself when self-doubt creeps in? Let me know in the comments, and what your favorite chocolate is. I’ll pretty much eat any kind with mint in it.
— K.M. Allan