Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.
A friend shared this tweet with me, courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda:
Let’s make some new mistakes!
Let’s find the things worth saving in the mess our living makes!
This is my kind of tweet! I am a big believer in exquisite mistakes and a little bit of literary risk taking!
Especially today, I’m going to press SEND on my next manuscript, even though it isn’t perfect!
When to press send is the question I find most often in my inbox. And unfortunately, it’s the hardest to answer, since there is no set of rules that will stop you from making mistakes. In other words, if you are looking for guarantees, they don’t exist. But if you want a few rules and guidelines, here are mine:
A first great way is to surround yourself with honest, supportive allies–other creators who know your story and will be there for you whether the answer is yes or no. Good readers help you see your story’s unrealized potential. They can also push you to do better. Then can tell you: ENOUGH. It’s ready. TEST THE WATERS.
You’re ready if you have put the manuscript in a drawer–if you’ve given time to both your intellect and your intuition. You are ready if you have explored details and ideas even when you thought you were done. You’re ready if you feel: there is nothing more you can do.
You’re ready if you’ve started spinning your wheels, if you have you caught yourself rewriting sentences, then deleting your revisions, then checking back to reclaim the last version.
Being ready to send is a great feeling! So don’t ignore it. Don’t hold on too long. Don’t be afraid of rejection, because rejection teaches us what ready looks like. Remember: everyone gets rejected. The trick is: Don’t sweat it. Learn from them. Maybe even learn to enjoy them. And maybe that’s the real answer: you know you are ready if the rejections inspire you to work harder, if they help you make connections to new agents and editors, if you take that rejection and think: I need to celebrate. Someone read my story.
Are you ready to stretch?
Here’s an exercise I tried last night. Write your flap copy–in the voice of one of your secondary characters. See what they think your story is about…and what your main character wants. It was fun to see what my secondary character had to say. And it gave me a glimpse at some of the plot turns that are offering me the most conflict–as well as a break from my main narrative voice!
Have a great writing week!