Writing a novel is almost always a solo act, though of course, many do partner up and co-author books (something I haven’t tried yet, but plan to). But for the most part, it’s you and the keyboard or, if you’re old school, you and a pad.
It is sometimes easy to get caught up in that time spent alone and come to believe that what you have written is absolute garbage and should be deleted (or trashed) immediately, burned if at all possible. For those of us with an overinflated ego, it is equally easy to become enamored with your own writing and begin to spend time wondering where you’ll be placing your Nobel Prize in Literature trophy and what you’ll wear on “Oprah.”
In the end, in general, our work falls somewhere in between those two extremes, but the key is, are we closer to the delete key or the Nobel Prize?
Since it is often difficult for those of us who write the words to honestly evaluate how well we’ve done, we need a third party, or parties, to help us out. This is where the first of two different groups of good friends comes in. These are the friends who love you enough to be brutally honest in their evaluation(s) of your work.
Now, I know that some writers don’t want anyone to see their work until it’s done, and even then, only their editor can see it before it is released to the public. That doesn’t work for me. I enjoy, actually crave, feedback on an ongoing basis. My routine is as follows…
I finish a chapter, almost always early in the morning, and give it to my wife. Forty years of marriage means that she has no problem being candid with me about my work — or anything else for that matter. She reads it and gives me feedback on two levels. Was it a good chapter? Did it move the story forward, make sense and leave her wanting to read the next chapter? If those are all yeses, I know we’re good. She also has amazing way of finding things I overlooked. Mistakes of omission and commission.
I then pass it on to my son and two of my co-workers at my day job. All three of them have read every Western word I’ve ever written and each have eyes for different things. I take their comments into consideration, make the necessary tweaks to the chapter and move on to the next.
It is comforting for me to go through this process, and while each writer has to develop their own, I thought it might help to share mine. I know it leaves me with a positive feeling heading onto the next blank page.
I mentioned earlier that I have two groups of good friends. Who’s in the second group? Those who love me enough to always tell me my stuff is great. Sometimes, I just need to hear that, even if I know it isn’t always true.
Thanks to all of my friends, and good luck finding a way that works for you.
I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].
Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!