Something one of my dear friends, who is also a writer, has recently told me is that a novel does not need to be perfect when querying. Cohesive and compelling, yes. But perfect? Nope. That may sound obvious, but for someone who is a perfectionist it’s unheard of.
Perfection kills creativity.
In 2011, I started working on a young adult novel with the hope that it would be finished and ready to query with by the end of the year. It’s 2017 and I am still revising that novel. I took this novel to a writing retreat this past May and I’m still barely inching through this round of revisions. Every changed word brings uncertainty. Every new sentence brings doubt.
Doing your best to produce a wonderful book is every writer’s goal. But there comes a time when revising can do more harm than good. When you just have to take your hands off the novel and begin the querying process.
As hard as it may sound, the best thing you can do for yourself and your novel is to stop worrying about perfection. Getting the story right and doing justice to the characters and world you’ve created is crucial. But, as every perfectionist knows, sometimes we’re spinning our wheels because we fear the next step.
So, how do you put your perfection back in the box? One of the best ways to do this is to turn your manuscript into a PDF and load it onto your phone or an ereader. This way, you can read the story as it is without the ability to edit. Read it through as a reader would. Take your time and try to enjoy your work (I know, this part is very hard).
Reading your work is so much different than revising it. Sometimes in revision it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Plots get lost or muddled. By reading your manuscript from start to finish, you can see your story for what it is. After you’re finished, you’ll have a greater perspective on your story and what needs to be done—if anything else needs to be done.
Remember, your story will never be perfect and that is OK. What matters is if you love it. If you care about your world and the people who inhabit it. Because when you write from a place of love for your world, your readers will love your story too.
We are always accepting new submissions (both writing and art) and we’d love to see your work! Submit here.