About How Will You Know... (continued)
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Recently I finished the final editing – hopefully - of a children’s book that I have been writing for the last several years. It took me long because every time I finished it, I noticed something else that I should have added or omitted. So I kept going back to it and before I knew it, years had passed. So, this time I have said to myself, “Enough is enough! I must finish and let it go!”
Strangely, as soon as I finished it, an email popped up with the subject: “Writing a Book? How to Know When to Stop Editing and Move On.” |
In the email, Miss Wikson wrote something that spoke to me. “Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your writing career is to shelve your project and begin anew.” Then I noticed that the most of the comments the article elicited started with, “Me too, I have the same problem…” or “I am a victim…” I realized that I am not the only one who gets caught up in the revision-after-revision trap.
Thinking about it, I remembered my first novel, Whispers. My university teacher who read it after publication was full of praise. It was a very good book, he told me. “A reader will benefit because you have put so much into it. But unfortunately you are going to lose because you will not be able to write another book for many years!”
His prediction turned out to be true. It took three years for another book to come out of me. In the meantime a friend whom we derided for producing trite books had written and published six books and his fame was spreading like the proverbial wild fire. I met him recently. He took me to an expensive hotel, bought me expensive lunch during which he told me about his annual income. He has written and published forty more “trite” books. He admitted to me that most of his books have gone to waste and have been forgotten, but the few of the 40 that are doing well are sufficient to make him an important figure in the book writing field - and, fortunately, a well-earning writer. As you must have guessed, his royalties are counted in seven figures.
A few things make us continue revising our manuscripts. The most important being the general attitude held by most writers that a book that takes long to write is a serious, important book, and its author a serious, important writer. As students in the university, lecturers were keen to narrate to us the length of time a book took to write, creating the impression that books that took long were better and more serious analysis of what they called the “human condition.”
The consequence was that writers got little practice in writing because they wrote less. Without practice, chances increased that the books they produced were not only few, but were often unreadable. They denied themselves the chance to write good, readable books. Miss shows the importance of practice in perfecting writing by giving the example of the British writer Stephen King who improved with practice. King wrote 40 books and the best are those he wrote later. “Where would the world be today if King had spent a decade polishing Carrie?” asks Miss.
The attitude of the longer it takes to write a book, the better the book naturally led to less income for writers. The consequence was the development of an explanatory point of view: Serious books do not earn sufficient income for writers. I know of some writers who, with a sense of self-importance, tell you that their books sell only 50 copies a year because readers “don’t like to read serious books.”
Miss identifies the second reason we over-edit our books: it is that writers become emotionally attached to their books. But about this Miss says, “While I understand why writers develop emotional attachments to something that occupies so much of their time, minds and hearts, this is not a productive way to use your energy. Give those words a beginning, middle and end, and move on.”
So when can you decide you have finally completed your book?
This is a simple question with a complex answer. It becomes simpler however, when you to start to regard your book as a project. If you are writing two books at once, then you are running two projects at once. All projects come to an end at pre-determined points. So you must pre-determine when your writing project will stop. If you are an independent writer, your writing project will probably not end until you have distributed your book.
Ali Luke, has an excellent article, How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers, in which he suggests the following stop-points to help you realize when to stop your book writing project:
- When you’ve written a book that has a start, middle and end.
- When you’ve written a book that’s 50 pages long (or more), and proof-read it.
- When you’ve received feedback on your book and revised your book accordingly.
And that is also where I will stop trusting that these pointers will help release you to write many more books and hopefully some successful ones among the many.
“ABOUT PEACE AND PEACEMAKING” by MARIA CRISTINA AZCONA and OTHERS
Humanity´s existence is on peril. Its worst enemy is not only violence, war or terrorism, but also a profound lack of love, sensibility and empathy. A complete change for all of us is possible, but only will arrive from an innovative thought and a serious research on the possible ways out.
The solution to our problem hides in this book…Let us find the cure to this severe illness that is causing the decadence and perhaps death of our blue planet Earth.
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Publishing New Writers,
July, 2015 (no. 1607)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
1407 Getzelman Drive
Elgin, IL 60123
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