Usually for my Writing Tip Wednesday I bring you writing tips from authors that have been published, but this post I had my own little writing tip that I wanted to share, a lesson that I have learnt.
And here it is: Be patient.
This is something I have to tell myself, and something I’m trying to practice a lot more now than I use to. I have very little patience, but it is something as a writer that I am striving to have more of. Writing takes a lot of time — writing a manuscript can take months or even years, and then you start the submission process and it can be months before you hear back from an agent or publisher, and years to score that contract. There’s a lot of waiting involved in writing and publishing, and being impatient isn’t going to make it happen any faster, in fact, it’s probably going to slow you down.
I read a lot of articles from publishers and agents about what they want and why they reject manuscripts. They want a manuscript that’s 90% complete (as in fully finished and edited as good as you can do it by yourself) and a lot of the time they reject something simply because the writer sent it too early.
I wanted to write this because I am at that stage where my manuscript is almost complete and this an issue I’m facing at the moment. In the past I have written two books and sent them to a couple of agents and/or publishers before they were ready, just wanting to be published, and they got rejected, (They are now sitting in a file on my computer waiting to be re-written.) because I was too impatient to wait til I had perfected them as best I could — the second even had gaping big plot holes that I could see and still I sent it away.
I am currently working on a manuscript for a story that I think is my best one yet and I believe has the best chance of getting published.
Three months ago I thought it was ready. I sent it to an agent who rejected it, and then Harper Collins announced they were opening a submission window for a new e-imprint and I thought my book was perfect for them so I sent it away.
I didn’t look at my manuscript for three months while I was waiting to hear back, instead I started on book two (What I’m working on now is a series.) And then I got rejected. I was up against 5,000 people and there were only 12 spots so my hopes weren’t that high. And now I’ve decided that I am going to send it to the Ampersand Project — an initiative from Hardie Grant Egmont Australia that is looking for unpublished YA authors. So I am going over my manuscript two more times before I send it. I was certain it was as polished as it could be, and now I’m reading it and seeing I was wrong. I mean, it is almost there, the plot is complete, that’s not the issue, but I’m seeing it with fresh eyes and there are grammatical errors I had missed and I’m getting rid of description that is too long, and tweaking sentences, and rearranging them to make them sound as good as I can make them. This is another part where patience comes in.
A lot of authors say to leave your manuscript for a few months and come back to it, so you can look at it with fresh eyes and find those mistakes, and to keep resting it between edits. I didn’t realise how valuable that information was until now. Before, I’d let it go a week or two and then get into editing, wanting to just get it finished so I could send it away, but if I just waited, gave my manuscript a good amount of rest time before editing it, maybe one of those no’s might have been a yes.
Patience is one thing you need to learn as a writer, to not be in this great rush just because you want to be published. You don’t need to be idle while your manuscript is resting either, write your next book, write short stories and send them away, whatever, keep writing, and then you can put that away when it is done and then go back to editing the first.
Another little tip I have is this: once your manuscript is plot perfect and you are up to line editing for spelling and punctuation, print it out and edit it. Once I finish going over my manuscript one more time, this is what I’m going to do. You can see way more mistakes reading your work on paper than on the screen. And then once I’ve typed all the corrections I found on paper into the computer, I’ll send it away and it really will be the best it can be.
So patience may just be the thing you need, and then combine that with lots of persistence and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get published.