Sorry for the slowdown in posts lately, readers; I’m facing my busiest semester yet, and I’m trying to focus all my available time on my novel, whose first draft is nearing completion. I’m excited about the prospect of finishing the draft, but also very nervous, because I’m getting closer every day to the edge of the map I’ve drawn, entering uncharted (and unplanned) territory. I’m in that “here be dragons” region. It’s going to take a lot more concerted effort and just a bit of daydreaming and stargazing to figure out how this book should end.
I’m still committed to keeping Writerly Life supplying you with regular thoughts and tips on the Writing Life, however. Today, I’m thinking about how helpful it was lately to go all the way back to chapter one of my novel and give it to some folks who had never seen it before to read. It’s so useful to get a fresh perspective on something you’ve been mired in for months.
Get a new pair of eyes on your work
Many writers discuss how important it is to be able to look at your work objectively, or if that fails, to find someone who can look at your work objectively. This means no loving parents or worshiping younger siblings can be your chosen set of eyes. Instead, consider starting up a writing and reading group in your area, or dig up the names of friends you haven’t seen in a while. Ask a coworker with similar interests to read your work.
Hear critiques with an open mind.
Once you’ve found a reader, it’s time to listen to comments with an open mind. When you’re in a long-term project, your views of your own work can become calcified; you might put aside a chapter, tell yourself, “Now that’s done”, and refuse to consider changing it any more. But a new pair of eyes may find new ways to re-arrange the chapter so that the later chapters finally fall into place. Or a new reader may point out to you something that is still confusing that you weren’t able to see because you knew what was behind it.