Reading Your Book: Thoughts That Run Through Your Head

When you’ve been working on your manuscript for several years, you’ve read it more than a few times.

In fact, you’ve probably read it so much you can quote whole paragraphs from it.

It’s a side effect of reading your words repeatedly, and the editing, rewriting, proofing—and let’s just throw another edit in there because it never ends—of writing a book.

By the time you’re on what you’re praying is the real final draft, you’re more than sick of those words.

You’ve picked apart paragraphs, you’ve rewritten scenes, you’ve analyzed every chapter ending, yet it’s probably been a long time since you read your MS from start to finish with no tinkering.

Yep, that means reading it first sentence to last, like a reader who has picked up someone else’s book.

I did this recently with the first book in my upcoming series, Blackbirch. The last time I read this MS was November 2018, so when the publisher sent it back after a round of edits, I resolved to read through it, without doing any editing.

What follows is pretty much every thought that ran through my head…

  • Why did I open it like this?
  • Is this how I used to write?
  • What was I thinking?
  • I wrote this? (cringe).
  • I wrote this? (surprisingly good).
  • I wrote this? (I don’t remember this part at all).
  • Yeah, cut that.
  • What? That makes no sense.
  • This part is way too long.
  • This part is way too short.
  • There’s that word again.
  • And again.
  • And again.
  • Do I know any other words?
  • No, I clearly do not know any other words.
  • What is that word?
  • Oh, I like that word. Why didn’t I use it more?
  • I can’t believe I put all these words together and they actually make sense.
  • Okay, this part does not make any sense.
  • Oh! That sentence ties in with what happened in chapter five and didn’t even mean for that to happen!
  • I’m a writing wizard!
  • Wait. If this bit happens now, that means…
  • Yep, that’s a plot hole.
  • Sigh.
  • I am not a writing wizard.
  • Okay, this will need a fix.
  • There’s that word again.
  • And again (cringe).
  • Well, this chapter came out better than I expected.
  • Oh, I still love that ending.
  • I wrote this? (surprisingly happy).
  • Yeah, this needs another edit.

I might have concluded that the book could do with more edits, but I was also surprised by how much of it worked.

It might sound odd considering I wrote the MS and should know at this point if it works or not, but I’d spent so many years writing this book, working on 20 odd drafts of it, dealing with self-doubt, impostor syndrome, and 21 rejections, it was hard to see that. I was so caught up in thinking it wasn’t good, reading it again after a long break made me see that it was.

If you’re currently working on an MS you’ve lost faith in, or you’re querying and getting no feedback, or you have an MS you put in a drawer years ago because you deemed it not worthy, dust it off!

Look at that abandoned MS, re-read it from start to finish, with no tinkering, and try to see it with fresh eyes!

Odds are you’ll cringe. You’ll probably wonder if you know any other words. You’ll induct yourself into the writing wizard hall of fame and then kick yourself out based on the very next paragraph. It’s a guarantee that the MS will need another edit (or five), but I’m sure you’ll also find that you wrote something special. Even if it’s just one sentence in a sea of terrible ones.

You wrote a book.

You wrote something good.

That’s what you should be proud of. That’s what you should celebrate. That should be the loudest thought that runs through your head.

— K.M. Allan

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

22 thoughts on “Reading Your Book: Thoughts That Run Through Your Head

  1. Oh, thank you K.M., this is very reassuring! I am literally laughing out loud as I can relate to everything you’ve said here. Congratulations on achieving the ultimate goal and getting published – this post shows what a long and arduous road it is. Enjoy your success and I can’t wait to read your novel when it comes out.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ruth Miranda

    This happened to me fairly recently, when I dug out something I started writing after my son was born – it was supposed to be a children’s fantasy trilogy, turns out there’s way too much sex and it’s four books instead of one – and that I’d completely ditched after writing two and a half books in the series. I’d been writing it in Portuguese, with hardly any thought to publishing at the moment, and when I recently emailed it to my kindle app and started reading through the whole thing my immediate thoughts weren’t even verbal, it was an entire cringe fest from start to finish. There is a reason I dislike writing AND reading in Portuguese, and those MS reminded me of it with a vengeance. But after that first – terrible – impression I was like ‘Wait, the world building is amazing, here, I was really good at that.’ and ‘Come on, this isn’t THAT bad, and even though it seems like there’s way too many clichés at first, the plot twists prove there aren’t.’ I realised that though the writing was… can say laughable? the characters were quite solid, the story was a good one (especially book two) and decided I needed to give it a chance. So I started translating it into English with a view at working on it in the upcoming years and maybe publish the series one day! At the same time, I’m rereading other stuff just so I can get a gist of where the story needs to go amd have been underlining a few passages that had me thinking ‘Whoahahhhh, did I really write this? I must have been possessed by the spirit of extremely good writing at the point!’. SO the thing is DO NOT GIVE UP, you’ve written a book, you’ve finished it, now work it to its best!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The spirit of extremely good writing”, love it, Ruth. What a great way to put it. I’m so happy to hear you read back over an old MS and loved parts of it. We really do forget sometimes what we’re capable of, especially when all we remember/focus on is the bad drafts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lyn Webster

        Yes, all of that. I’m only supposed to be fine tuning right now and I just cut an entire scene. More than 1000 words. My writing is much tighter now than it was 5 years ago when I started this novel, and it’s taken this long to be able to let go of some of that early stuff. On the plus side, I was still really moved by the climactic scenes, tears and everything.😁

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Great to hear that your WIP moves you, Lyn! I love when you look at an MS from 5 years, or even a year ago, and can see the difference in your writing. That’s what the process is all about 😊.


  3. I know exactly what you’re referring to here in this post. I have the 1st draft done (kinda) and the thought of reading it from page one to the end is nauseating to me, yet I know it needs to be done.

    I’m guessing it took you a few years to write that book you refer to. It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one who takes a while to write a story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, G.J! I’ve been working on my YA series since 2001, so yes, it took a while 😅. You are definitely not the only one. Good luck with your drafts. The thought of reading from start to finish is a scary one, but it’s well worth it 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s really hard for all of us to read our work. We carry so much weight in regards to the work we put in. Because of that we are going to be super critical, we’re going to love it and we’re going to question our ability. That’s why we have to rely on others and we have to listen when they tell us enough is enough.

    Love the thoughts you added when reading it. So true. Been there and will be there again. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So many people say, “I should write a book.” You are absolutely right. Even if reading that old manuscript makes you cringe, at least you wrote a book. I now have three unpublished book manuscripts and a few months back I picked up my first one from years ago and began a major revise/edit of it. I am having fun with the project. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on writing — to keep trying.

    Liked by 3 people

Comments are closed.