I wrote four drafts of my next book and shared it with a few beta readers before I sent it to my editor. I’m working with a different editor this time, so we’re getting used to working together. Nothing bad, believe me, just different. I knew there were glaring weaknesses, but I wasn’t prepared to see so much red ink when he returned the manuscript. If you think writing is hard, wait until you get to the editing phase.
It took me a solid month, 100+ hours to work through it. Editing takes more time, at least for me. I couldn’t work more than 4 hours a day on it without my brain turning to mush. That’s okay. No complaints.
This past weekend I was at the stage where most everything I was doing was tweaking. That’s a good sign, the tweaking phase. It means you’re happy with the overall book. Except I wasn’t. I started fiddling again, adding more, deleting some, rearranging stories within chapters. Did I really need to do that? That remains to be seen.
What I do know is that I was avoiding hitting send. Of course once I decided to do it, my computer went a bit on the fritz, but that’s a separate issue. I’ve worked on this book for three years. What could be so bad about hitting ‘send’?
Maybe you hesitate when you buy something online. Or when you post a comment on Facebook (I wish more people did). But this…this is different.
Hitting ‘send’ on something you wrote is giving up a little piece of yourself to be judged. I don’t know any writer who is entirely comfortable with this. They might be relieved, or just sick and tired of what they’ve been working on. If they’re anything like me, they’re sure it’s not good enough, so they delay as long as possible.
What comes after hitting ‘send’ is almost as bad as what comes before. Because now things are popping into your head: “Oh, my God, I should’ve…” Your brain is filled with all the changes you now believe you should have made, all the deletions you should have kept, all the words you struggled to find that are now obvious. It’s exhausting.
And normal. The stories and worlds we’ve created are a part of us, now and forever. We want them to be the very best they can be, whether they’re read by one person or millions. We want people to know that we are capable of capturing someone’s imagination and entertaining them. And in order to do those things, we need to share what we write.
So take a deep breath, go for a walk, switch to decaf. Remember that you’ve done your best, and that the next thing you write will be even better. Because writing is what you do. And your writing deserves an audience.
Back to work.