for writers life my writing

    stop editing

    November 21, 2017

    stop editing // advice for writing and life // katharineschellman.com

    I am not good at letting things go.

    This is perhaps a common problem, no matter what profession (or stage of life) you find yourself in. Wanting things to be perfect before you send them out into the world, before you invite other eyes and minds to offer opinions, before you share the struggle that has consumed your hours… well, that’s probably pretty normal.

    The mystery novel I’ve been working on, slowly and sometimes not-so-steadily, for the past couple years, kept beingΒ almost ready. It had been through one round of beta readers, and I wanted to send it out to them again once I had gone through and edited it based on their initial feedback.

    “I finished editing my book!” I announced to my husband one night.

    He immediately began congratulating me, and I had to interrupt him to explain that by finished I meant got to the end of the manuscript. “But I changed a few things at the end, so of course I have to go back and fix the things that no longer work.”

    And then a few weeks later, I woke up in the middle of the night with a realization about the narrative voice I was using, so naturally that required a few more changes.

    At some point, though, we have to stop editing.

    At some point we have to be willing to say, “Perhaps it is not perfect, but I’m proud of what it is” and send it out into the world, whether “it” is a manuscript or a painting or a job application or ourselves.

    Last Thursday, I put a period at the end of a manuscript and immediately drafted an email to my beta readers, then texted several of them “BOOK IN YOUR INBOX!!!” All caps. And I ordered myself a celebratory cup of tea at my coffee shop.

    Because it was not perfect, but I am proud of what it is. And soon, I will be ready to send it out on the next stage of this journey.

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