Welcome to the November installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group! This is an opportunity for us to share our doubts and insecurities, and perhaps inspire other fellow writers.
As always, thanks go to Alex J. Cavenaugh for creating this group, and this month’s co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Stephen Tremp. Please visit their blogs if you get a chance and show ’em some love!
I’ve spent many years developing my craft through classes, conferences, books, and more. Someone is always opining on the best way to structure a novel, and we learn a lot of dos and don’ts in the process. If you’re like me, you agonize about the process. After three years, my latest WIP, What She Knew, is nearly ready to publish, but no doubt I will polish and fret up until the moment I send my new baby out into the world.
It’s time for some liberation. I’m going to say something I’ve never said before: stop worrying so much.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care or that we shouldn’t try to write the best book possible. I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to work on our skills.
A few days ago I finished slogging through a Really Bad Novel. There was a clunky overuse of backstory, references so repetitive I felt as though I were being hit over the head with a hammer, characters who changed too quickly, etc.
Because I had just pulled it up on my Kindle app, I hadn’t paid attention to the author or publisher. Impatient and frustrated, I took a closer look, assuming — wrongly — that this was a self-published book.
Turns out Random House is the publisher, and the author a frequent bestseller with a large following. I then turned to the Amazon reviews, which were glowing!
Sorry, I don’t get it. This novel would never make it through a Novel Writing 101 class.
Here’s the thing, though: sometimes we let perfectionism keep us from getting our work out there. I’m really, really guilty about that (and yes, I know I’m using adverbs — so what?). Maybe you are, too.
For whatever reason, the Really Bad Novel struck a chord for many readers…so who am I to judge?
Let’s trust ourselves a little more and worry a little less. Yes, learn your craft. Yes, get an editor if you’re indie. I’m not saying put your first drafts out there. But take a breath and try not to take it all so seriously. Find a way to get your work into people’s hands. There are people who want to read your stories.
Now, back to NaNoWriMo. I will try to heed my own advice!
SALE: The Foreign Language of Friends is on sale for $.99 until November 7!
ANNOUNCEMENT: Next week, author Toi Thomas will sit in my blogger’s chair and discuss “Why I Decided to Write Romance.” She is on a blog tour and I understand a giveaway is involved. Here are the other stops of her tour if you’re interested:
Nov. 2nd – Tricia Drammeh – Review
Nov. 3rd – There For You Editing – Interview (Glorie Townson)
Nov. 3rd – Samantha’s Books – Interview (Toi Thomas)
Nov. 4th – Liza O’Connor – Review
Nov. 4th – The Sunflower’s Scribbles– Interview (Glorie Townson)
Nov. 5th – Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps – Review
Nov. 6th – Annie Higa – Review
Nov. 7th – The ToiBox of Words
Nov. 4th – Is History the Agreed Upon Lie… Guest Post (A History of Romance Novels)
Nov. 7th – The Girl with Book Lungs – Guest Post (Ageism vs. Romance)
Good advice, Nadine. Agonizing over our work leads to procrastination and “I’ll just fix this” or “I need to reread” for the 100th time. Do the best you can.
Diane IWSG #92
Bingo. I have set a date for releasing my next book. I could rewrite the same thing for the rest of my life, but I need to just set an end date and go with it.
I KNOW! There’s an audience for anything under the sun. ANYTHING. It’s strange to me, but I also recognize a book I think is atrocious may be the most amazing thing under the sun to someone else…and I try to stay conscious of that when reviewing. Who am I to tell someone they won’t love a book?
This is one reason I never write a bad review. If I don’t like the book, I just remain silent. You’re absolutely right… we have no right to judge. It’s interesting that sometimes reading a bad book does me more good as a writer than reading the really great ones! Makes me realize there’s an audience waiting if I have the guts to share my work.
Perfect timing. I’ve been battling with this. Fear is an ugly tormentor.
Anna from Elements of Writing
I’m so glad this was beneficial for you! I agree with you. Let’s push it aside and just get on with it!
Makes me think of the saying: there’s a lid for every pot.
So there’s an audience for every type of story.
Thanks for the reminder to be cautious about ‘overdoing’ the edits in search of the ‘perfect story’.
Happy IWSG Day. 😀
Thanks, Michelle! I was humbled with this realization, and it’s interesting how much my writing productivity has increased since then. I think I will be much less fearful about getting my books out there.
What a great post, so true (and there’s hope for us all!)
Yes! and Yay! It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?
It’s a balance. You want to take care to get the best book out there, but you don’t want to spend so much time on it that you choke the life out of it. And don’t you hate it when you read a really bad book that found a traditional publisher. I thought they were supposed to keep those novels out of the bookstores.
I know, right? Having “choked the life” out of one of my novels, I absolutely agree with you. I hope one day to restart that one, because I still think it’s a good idea, and it’s the one that made me want to write in the first place. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading and looking for Really Good Novels to share on this blog!
Your take on the Really Bad Novel is so interesting! I would have also jumped to the conclusion that it was self-published. I’ve read some Really Bad Novels in my time by famous authors and thought to myself, “How in the world did they get someone to pay them to publish this?!”
Thanks for stopping by my blog and your encouraging words – very much appreciated!
I love meeting bloggers via IWSG…there’s so much interesting content going on, and it’s a great way to find bloggers like you.
As an indie author, I feel bad that I jumped to that conclusion. I think more and more indie authors are concerned about the quality of their work. Still, that old belief that traditional publishing is the gatekeeper dies hard.
There is a reason I love this blog hop, being a part of this IWSG group and you are one of them! Thanks for the reminder. Thanks for the heads up. Thanks for saying what I needed to hear this week, this month, this life! I always enjoy visiting your blog…
Thanks so much! I agree, this is such a wonderful group of writers. Every month I stumble across someone new who offers delightful content. Likewise, I always smile when I see the e-mail in my in-box telling me I have a new posting from you.
Brilliant post, and so timely! I really struggle with this. When it comes to writing books, I’m golden, but then they get stuck in the editing and rewriting stage FOREVER.
Time to get them out there!
Sorry it took me so long to read your post. This month has been crazy!
Your most recent blog post was brilliant. Loved it! Glad you stopped by…I know it’s hard to keep up with it all, so I appreciate your time.
Great post. And, it’s true. We worry too much. We get so hung up on “perfect” i.e. the unattainable, that we never move forward. I have also read books that make me go “hmm?” The Shack, for instance. I thought it was terrible writing, and not much of a story. It was self-published and caught on like wildfire. For some reason, it struck a chord with Christian readers because it made them think a little more about what the Holy Trinity really looks like, or could look like, and it’s about forgiveness, that we all need to work on, no… Read more »
Thanks, Mary! Your comments brought to mind a self-published book I read years ago. It was sorely in need of an editor, but the guy had a built-in audience he could sell his book to, and I think it did really well. As I read it, I remember thinking, “This is a good story.” In spite of what a mess it was, I couldn’t put it down…so yes, sometimes an author strikes a chord with an underlying universal truth. Great example!