Today I thought I’d give some advice for my fellow writers. If you’re like me, then you’re a nervous wreck when it comes to critiques and edits of your work. My book is like my baby, and my baby is perfect. Being told otherwise would destroy this perfect facade that I had created, but here is the thing: your book isn’t perfect. I’m not saying it’s a complete piece of shit because there could be things about it that are perfect. Perhaps you have a strong story/plot, maybe your characters have well-formed development, or your sentence structure and story flow is exquisite. However, you may need work in other areas like point of view, word choice, grammar, etc. Your book has the ability to reach such great potential but needs that extra push to become the book that hits the shelves.
I am someone who dreads getting my edits back from my editor. With my first book, I was so mortified by the edits that I received (there were so many!) that I put my book away for 2 years. I never once touched it until my boyfriend pushed me to finally work on it again and get it published. Having any kind of critiques done, even if it is constructive, can feel like a daunting task to endure. However, there are solutions!
Recently I gained a new writing guide (other than Voltaire), and I had no idea who this writer was until recently. A medium friend of mine introduced me to him and told me he kept bugging her to meet me. I don’t usually allow in spirits I don’t know into my space, so they either need to be seen during a reading (which I don’t do anymore) or someone has to introduce me to them. I keep my energetic space saved solely for loved ones and my spirit team. This writer is named David Foster Wallace, and he’s most famous for his novel Infinite Jest. He’s come to help me with my confidence and anxiety surrounding my writing and to not be so sensitive about it. In his life, he cared so much about what others thought that he didn’t write most things he wanted to in fear of what others would think about it. He wanted to steer me away from that path.
Last night he gave me a neat idea! Whenever you are editing your own work or going to read a critique or an edit of your work, then I encourage you to pretend that you are someone else. You are not the writer of this book, poem, etc. You are yet another editor or critic for the writer. Come up with a fake name for yourself or come up with a fake writer for your book. For instance, I decided that when I’m looking over my edits, the writer of my novel isn’t me. It is a woman named Consuela Perez that wrote it, and I’m just going over the edits for her.
This way, you separate yourself emotionally from your work and can look at it objectively. This way you don’t end up throwing your book into a desk drawer to collect dust for 2 years. You also become a better editor yourself. You are your own worst critic, so put that to use. When you separate yourself from your work, you can edit your manuscript and pick at every little thing to make it stronger. Maybe you’re annoyed by your repetitive words that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen or you hate the way the character development of your protagonist is coming out. The goal here is to make your already perfect manuscript stronger 🙂 remember that no writer is perfect, and nobody’s first draft is ever flawless. A lot fo work goes into editing before it even gets close to being published.
Here’s a photo of David Foster Wallace:
Aaaaand here’s a portrait of Voltaire (my baby’s daddy) for good measure 😉