Eventually, you do realise that someone is going to have to read your work? Whether it’s beta readers, actual readers, or competition judges, you can’t hide your work from everyone forever. It’s difficult, though, to know when a piece of writing is a stage to pass on to others, especially if it’s a new project. In these moments, it’s important to come up with some reasons to help you put down the pen, if only for a moment, and let others have a read.
When the story is finished
It’s nearly impossible to leave a piece of work alone and never make any changes. t’s so easy to keep working on something, to keep changing a sentence here or a paragraph there. There’s always a better way to explain something or describe a character. That won’t stop when you hit publish. Rereading the book will make you cringe thanks to a word choice you’ve made, or a bit of alliteration you didn’t notice. You’ll know that you’re nearly ready to send on, however, when the overall story doesn’t change in these editing sessions. Or when the characters don’t find any new motivation or growth in the pages. It’s then that the story is settled, and you’ll need a fresh pair of eyes on it. If you’re still chopping scenes in and out, or finding new sub-plots within the story, it’s probably worth another once over yourself.
When your plan says so
This one takes quite a bit of personal faith in your own ability. Before you start writing anything at all, Define that finish point. Then, try and stick with it. It might be after one draft, it might be after two or three, but whichever you decide, you should stick to it. This will allow you to move one to things a lot quicker, but beware that sticking to a plan like this, rather than relying on your own judgement, may lead to a lower standard of work.
When something new comes along (be careful!)
I’m a big believer in working on one thing at a time. However, I know that you might get your head turned every now and again with a new idea, or a competition that you want to enter. It may take you away from your project. If this happens though, I’d try and use the time spent away from your project in a positive way. If you have a half-way decent draft, and a willing volunteer, why not send your work to them while you look at something else? This means that while you work on the new piece of work, you’ll also be (almost) working on the previous one. Then, when the beta-reader gets back with comments, you’ll be raring to go on the original once more. You’ll also hopefully have some nice comments to inspire you to push forward and complete your work.
The images on this page are from unsplash.com.