Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learning to Let Go

There comes a time in the editing phase when we have to let go and say, ‘It is done’. This is often one of the more difficult things to do. Many of us writers believe we can’t truly finish a piece because we are always learning, always evolving, always improving. It takes practise to learn, patience to keep editing, and then it takes courage to let go and send the work out into the big, wide, scary world.

So, how do we know when a piece is ready? Potential is there if:
  • We’ve slaved over the manuscript for more than a mere three drafts.
  • We’ve line edited and copy edited and gone slightly insane through the yearning for perfection.
  • We’ve had the manuscript critiqued by fellow writers who know more than a smattering about the industry.
  • We’ve considered the opinions of beta readers. Note: at least one of your readers should reflect the market you’ve aimed your novel toward. For example, if you write for young adults, then you should get a young adult to read it.
  • And, if we have the money, then our manuscript has a greater chance of reaching its full potential if we pay for a professional edit.

Do you have trouble letting go? Are there any stages you’re tempted to leave out?

Note: This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. To learn more about the challenge click the image on my sidebar.


  1. Oh, if only we had money to pay for the full, professional edits before sending it out!

    Nice post and all so true!

  2. Good point about having teens read YA manuscripts. I probably should more than I do/have, but hey, agents and editors aren't children, and THEY are the ones who decide if the book should fly.

    Years ago, I used to have my niece read my stuff, and she'd share them with her friends. I had a little "fan club" for a while. Very satisfying. :) But my niece has grown up and so the last 2 years I've been lacking a teen audience. So now I rely on my lovely critters!

  3. you've chosen a very profound, charming and suggestive pic for this post, Lyndylove!

  4. Yes--I love my teen beta reader. She doesn't give me a huge amount of feedback, but whenever she says something, it's always completely on point and useful. I don't really have trouble letting go of my mss because I edit pretty obsessively as I go.

  5. Yes, I'd leave out the whole process if I could! I'm almost satisfied when it has been edited by someone else, but can always find faults, even then...

  6. I nearly wrote about this for K - knowing when it's done. I have a tough time with this because I love to revise. I've let go of my ms before only to pick it up again and tinker with it some more. This is the last revision, though, and I mean it. Done. I think.

  7. Nas, I do think professional edits are worth the money.

    Carol, nice to have a fan club ;) And also nice to have awesome critters (which I do)

    Dez, I'm glad someone noticed because it took me AGES to find it. I went through so many of my pics and yet none were right...until I stumbled on that one. It was taken in Mudgee during another driving holiday. The cow toy is from Bega (a cheese making region).

  8. Sarah, yep, it doesn't have to be a lot. Even one useful tip is golden.

    Carole, hahaha you made me laugh. Yep same. I always let my stories/novels rest and I'm always fixing them.

    L G Smith, hehe I hear ya!

  9. I'm a perfectionist, so it's tough sometimes.

  10. I tell myself that the revision process is over when I've said everything I wanted to say in the best way I could have said it. That's when it's over. Otherwise I slave and slave and slave.


  11. These are great tips, thank you!

  12. I still have to learn how to let go. It's just so hard to know when it's time.

  13. I have no problems letting go. I see it as a checklist where I feel SOOOO much better when it's done!

  14. I am SOOO not ready to send out my manuscript! (I can't actually tick off anything on that list yet!)

  15. Alex, yep, but it's worth it in the end

    Jai, and slave

    Emily, you're welcome

    Anne, that's why a second opinion helps

    Las Vegas, checklisting is good. BTW I love your new photo. Very swish :)

    Discovery, cool

    Rachel, but the time will come...

  16. I can't wait till I get to that point - when I can say, "Okay, ENOUGH with the editing!"

  17. It's difficult to know when to send something on its way! There's always a comma to be shifted!

  18. It's very true, no matter how good you think a piece of writing is, it can always be tweaked and improved upon. At some point you have to draw the line and hit the publish button.

  19. I find it easier to let go of a short story after it has been read and re-read by CPs. I'm yet to let go of my current wip though! :-) Take care

  20. All great advice, Lynda. I am thinking of paying for a professional edit. I'd rather win one though. *wink*

    I especially love #four. So important.

  21. stages tempting to leave out- yup-

  22. I stumbled upon you via the A-Z Challenge, and am now a follower! Enjoyed reading all of your posts, and looking forward to the remainder.

    And yes, I have a hard time letting go. Even on excerpts of released books, I still want to revise. :(

  23. I'm tempted to leave out all the editing phases but I think my editor would kill me. I've edited my current project so many times, I'm sick of it. But, I'm hoping the readers will be happy with all the effort I'm putting in.

  24. I'm sick of revisions at this point, too. I've revised my first novel so many times, I have no idea what's in it any more.

    Started a new project. So, after this I get to revise / edit novel#2 and the new project.

    Wish I had the money for pro editing, too.

  25. Trisha, same here

    Amie, yep, I have that problem too

    Poddys, exactly

    Old Kitty, good luck with the letting go process

    Robyn, winning a professional edit would be awesome

    Summer, hehe

    Anne, welcome! The challenge has been fantastic for meeting new people hasn't it :)

    Clarissa, lol yep, I think editors have their own persoanl hell and don't need us adding to it ;)

    M Pax, hahaha that's when a break is important too

  26. have discovered many a writer through the a-z and it often makes me think of my stained glass work. I can keep tweaking a design I am drawing, but sooner or later I need to make the piece. In my case, if I don't like the result I can tweak the design again. Have a great day and may the wisdom of knowing when to let go be with you.

  27. Stratoz, it's great to hear it from an artist's point of view. Same principle. Thanks.

  28. This is such a complete list. I hope this was helpful to many readers of your blog. You've put so much together in this one post.


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