Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Listen to Your Writer Brain

I want to tell y'all a story that I haven't shared with very many people.

The story starts with a confession: I wasn't super proud of All Laced Up when I finished writing the manuscript. I had attempted some things in it that I wasn't sure I'd pulled off. I'd been in a rush toward the end of writing because I'd missed a deadline (again). My writer brain just knew there were 4,912 things wrong with it. Despite all of that, I sent the manuscript to my editor, because did I mention the deadline thing?

Even though it was part of my three book deal, I kept waiting to get a response that said, "Yeah, sorry, but this is awful and we're not going to publish it." Somehow as time passed, I went from being afraid that was true to being convinced it was true.

In fact, the next e-mail I got was from my production editor, asking a question about the book. I don't usually hear from my production editor until later in the process, which fueled my theory. Poor thing, I thought to myself. No one told her this manuscript isn't being published! So I responded with something along the lines of "Oh, that book is crap and isn't happening anymore. Sorry to waste your time!"

Maybe I didn't use those exact words, but I did basically tell someone who works for my publisher that my book wasn't being published without actually hearing it from anyone at my publisher.

Almost immediately I got an e-mail from my editor saying that the book was, in fact, happening. I hadn't heard from her because she'd been (*gasp*) busy, but she loved the manuscript. The reason I'd heard from the production editor first was because there weren't a ton of edits needed.

Of course, I took my foot out of my mouth, apologized, and pretended to be happy. That's right. Pretended. Because even after all of that, I had my doubts. Did they feel bad that I obviously had some kind of mental break, so they were giving me a pity publication? Had my editor run out of time and she was just saying there weren't many edits needed, when really I was going to put out a subpar book?

Ridiculous thoughts, but again, I believed them.

Writer brain. Impostor syndrome. Whatever you want to call it, it hid me hard with this book.

Regardless, the edits happened, and the book was published.

When the early reviews rolled in, they were good, but I knew there would be terrible ones. My family and friends said they loved it, but come on, they're my family and friends. They have to say that.

But the positive reviews kept rolling in (even from people I'm not related to!). Usually when someone asks how a book is doing, I have no clue, but I could tell this one was doing pretty well.

Now, All Laced Up is my best-selling, most reviewed, and highest rated book, even though it's my newest release and has been out less than a year. It's a finalist for the YARWA Athena Award. It recently earned one of those "Best Seller" ribbons on Amazon.

Is it perfect? Nope. Did it get some terrible reviews? Yep. Is it a work of literary genius? Certainly not.

But is it something I can be proud of? Yes, if and only if I don't listen to my writer brain.

We writers are good at imagining the worst case scenario. It's kind of part of the job description. But when it comes to judging your own writing, shut off that part of your brain. Send the manuscript to beta readers or your editor. Trust that they'll tell the truth.

And if the truth is that it's good?

Believe it.

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