I just trunked another draft.
Specifically, this was the third draft of my current novel. I loved its first chapter but even it needed to go.
A couple friends recently asked if I’m too much of a perfectionist? They asked if I’m judging my writing too harshly?
Even my wife worried the same thing yesterday when she said, “you’re just going to have to believe that what you have is good enough to publish at some point.”
My goal has always been to self-publish a kick azz novel that I’m proud to share with the world. One that reads like a bestseller. One that I find worthy of promoting the crap out of.
But after brainstorming with my mentor I decided to cut all 70K+ words including that first chapter. We kept the concept and premise but the characters are getting recast and the plotline’s being rebuilt.
It will be better… stronger… faster-paced.
This most recent draft reboot got me thinking about what it takes to finish a novel.
I feel like I’m supposed to tell you it takes a lot of patience (because it does). Or that it takes a lot writing (because it does). Or that it takes a lot of reading (because it does).
Okay, it takes a lot of everything but most of all, I’ve learned it requires one critical component that I lacked for way too long.
Looking back, I feel like this was the worst writing mistake I’ve made.
You see, I’m an introvert who wrote in my solitary rabbit hole for most of the past seven years.
Outside of my first story coach and one family member, I never requested or received any feedback on my stories until recently.
Despite that lack of interaction, I still improved my prose because I was being patient while I wrote and read a lot. I also learned story structure to the Nth degree.
All of this was important but I suddenly found myself wondering how much quicker my path to publication could have arrived if I’d simply asked for feedback on any of my trunked novels.
Anyway, I’ve learned that feedback will lead to a stronger story, too. Feedback is the sole reason I’m confident this updated plot will be the one.
If your goal is to finish a worthy novel or anything else, I suggest you get feedback as soon as possible, and I’ve got three next step ideas to help you get started:
1. Go undercover and share a piece with a stranger.
There are countless websites out there where you can share your work, and you don’t have to reveal your identity.
You can pose undercover and post something to any one of the free blogs, writing forums and mediums out there. Then ask for feedback.
If they blast it, you won’t ever have to face them. If they love it, suddenly you’re a faceless rock star.
2. Ask friends or family members to read your stuff.
Of course, friends and family love you too much to break your heart so they won’t tell you if you’ve got a steaming pile of prose. That’s not the point of this step though.
The goal is to process their lack of responses or general vagueness.
I once shared my novel with an aunt who begged me to let her read it. I never got any feedback from her. That silence looped me that I had a ways to go, but I was still proud I put my stuff out there.
3. Hire a pro to evaluate your work.
Yep, I’m ending with the most expensive and scariest step possible. The pros won’t hold back and they’ll give it to you straight.
However, you shouldn’t let their opinion define the writer you are or the writer you’ll become. In fact, my first pro story coach offered me a refund.
The point of this step is to simply get in the game and test your stamina. Even if it’s tough feedback, at least you’re entering the pro arena which means you’re open to propelling your writing to the next level.
Choose wisely, but choose.
For the writing record, I’m finally all about trying to get myself out there.
I’m committed to publishing here at my blog, on Medium, and anywhere else I can share my writing and get feedback.
Straight up, I’m challenging you to do the same. I guarantee it will help expedite your path to becoming the writer you’re meant to be.