Monday, December 5, 2011

Writerly Instinct

We all have what I like to call a writerly instinct. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we know when one of our projects is ready for submission, be it to agents or editors. The trick is to become aware of such instincts and learn to listen to them.

I want desperately to be published. But at the same time, I want my first book to be the absolute best it can be.

As many of you know, I have two books in the works. I'm not feeling so great about one of them....I've done multiple revisions, but my writerly instincts tell me it's not quite there. One of my biggest fears at the moment is getting that story published. It's not good enough to measure up to my own personal standards. That's the thing about us perfectionists....we hold ourselves to the highest level of achievement, and when we don't reach that level we get frustrated and angry.

Someday, hopefully soon, my book will reach a level at which I'm satisfied. I'm closer with one of my projects than I've ever been before....after this round of revisions, perhaps I'll finally feel it's good enough to send out. There's also the possibility that I'm just paranoid.

What about you guys? Can you tell when a project is ready?


  1. Not really. It's hard for me and sometimes I feel like I'll never get there.

  2. I understand your hesitation. But, at some point, you have to let go of that perfectionist feeling. If you don't, you'd never publish anything. I truly believe that you never get to the point where you think your book is perfect. You just have to get it to the point where it is as perfect as it can be, and then, move on.

  3. My feelings about whether a project is finished depend on my distance from it. When I first complete a draft, I get that euphoria where I'm all "This is soooo good--I could totally send this out right now." It's only with time and distance that the euphoria changes to relief: "Thank God I did not send that out in this shape!"

    And then I go through a period where I'm too close to the work again, but this time I'm convinced it's garbage. But with more time and distance, I reach an equilibrium where I can hopefully approach it with a critical eye, as well as enjoy the sections that are on target.

    But I have to add, it took me a lot of years (and a few brushes with my own mortality) to learn that perfection is a great goal, but it can get in the way of a lot of things in life if you cling to it too tightly. May you find a happy medium!

  4. I thinkg there are still some insecurities that I allow to hold me back from listening to that writerly instinct.

    But I hope to rectify that soon.

  5. I had that feeling with my YA novel I worked on for two years before I finally set it aside to write RUMP. I'm so glad I did. While I know RUMP isn't perfect by any means, I feel I captured what I wanted to say with that book in a way I just wasn't quite reaching with the other, despite my love for the concept and characters.

    I know you're in a different situation, but I don't think there's anything wrong with pulling the book and saying you want to set it aside for a while. Follow your gut. It's your name on the cover, after all.

  6. I am going through the same thing right now! (except I'm not being published, I'm just not ready to Query) But I'm pretty sure you're talented enough to handle it ;)

  7. Listen, don't feel bad. I just sent off my novel to an editor and was told my character is weak. I told the editor don't go easy on me. Tell me the truth. I'm so grateful I did send it off. He told me where my strong points were and were I needed improvement. Also my story needs a meager overhaul. But I am so proud of myself for sending it. I did it. I crossed that bridge. Now I can let it destroy me or do something constructive with it. I'm choosing to do something constructive with it. Looking forward to more writing. Don't give up, just hand it over and get it edited.