This is the fourth post in myFear Stages in Writingseries, where I explore the stages of writing and the way fear hits it. It’s my theory that most of these fears have their roots in childhood, and our inner two year old is the best cure for them!

This is the series so far:

1.the introduction

2.first draft-itis

  1. editing

This week’s topic is: finalizing. Here are the questions from the introduction:

  • Do you keep tinkering with your words?
  • Do you leave a story sleeping for yet another couple of months so you can take distance from it?
  • Do you keep dragging aspects of the story in and out because that makes it better? And then end up with basically the same story?

Finalizing is tricky and fear can come on truly strong. After all, you will submit your story after this phase. It is very seductive, therefore, to just keep tinkering forever. Like with last week’s installment, I have picked two ways fear mucks up your finalizing process.

It’s not perfect

You keep going back to the story to find some more things that are wrong with it. You let the story wait for a couple of weeks until you are able to take distance from it, and then maybe edit out some more things that don’t work. Thing is, even if it is edited to perfection, and all your grammar errors are fixed, someone will find something that doesn’t work with your story. I have read sometimes that authors get their book from printing and within the first minute, they discover a grave error on page two they had completely missed in all their editing rounds. It’s a given. Your book will never be perfect, but it will be good. You know when it is good. The moment fear grabs you by the throat in such fierceness is usually a sign the book is finalized. Let it go. It’s not you, it is your work. Your job isn’t tinkering with a story to make it perfect, your job is to finish your work to the best of your ability and then write the next book, the next story, the next article.

It’s my baby

You press your printed manuscript to your chest with so much fierceness. You know that the moment you give it to others, they might rip it to shreds. You can’t stand that happening to your baby.

No one can stand their kids to get hurt. Your book is not your child, though. It is a product of your skills. Imagine you hire a carpenter to make you a table. Would you want a carpenter who works for you to tinker endlessly with a product he creates for you until he thinks it is perfect for you? Do you respect someone who doesn’t trust their craft?

Trust yours, trust your inner voice that says: this is good, let it go. Let your written words find their way in the world. And write more. Always write more.

Inner two year old to the rescue!

Alright, so you are sitting at your desk and you shiver with fear at the final draft in front of you. How do you break through it?

  • Go back to the list of reasons you love the story you have written for the first draft. Are all those reasons in the story in front of you? Does realizing that all that you love in the story is written make you bounce up and down inside? That’s your inner two year old telling you that you are ready to let this one go.
  • Trust your friends. Get a great line editor and let some beta readers lose on your book. Once you are done making the changes they point out in the book, let it go. Trust that they did their best for your book, as you did. After this, there’s nothing you can do to it other than muck it up again.
  • What does your inner two year old want you to do? Does she want you to create? Or does she want you to let go and move on to the next project? Be honest with yourself and move your story forward.
  • Set a finalizing party date. Your inner two year old loves a party and will do anything to get this party to happen. When the date is there, dress up pretty and celebrate finishing your manuscript.
  • Embrace imperfection. You aren’t perfect, neither is your story. Know that it will find its place in the world, no matter what. Know that not everyone will like what you have written. That is perfectly alright.
  • Love the fact that you are here to give stories legs, arms, hands, and feet, and that you are there to make them all perfect in your eyes. Then give them a chance to find their own way. Give yourself a big smile and a thumbs up in the mirror for a job well done!

Next week the topic will be submitting/self-publishing! See you then!