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You’ve revised, tweaked, and touched-up the piece you’re writing. But how do you know when your work is finally finished and ready to be submitted? Does it take one draft…or three…or ten? Too often in their quest to create the perfect story, essay, poem, or book, writers ruin the spirit of their piece by overworking and overthinking every detail. Or, paralyzed by indecision, they never submit their writing out of fear that it’s just not “good enough.” When is it time to let go?
5 Steps To Stop Stalling And Start Making Submissions:
1. Let time pass. Finally! You’ve written the last word. Now, set your work aside. Turn your attention elsewhere—spend time outdoors, work on your hobbies, begin something new. After enough time has passed (whether it’s hours, days, or weeks) read your manuscript with fresh eyes. How do you feel about it now? Does the piece still ring true, or do you see where some revision will improve it?
2. Focus first on the big picture. When you’re ready to take that first fresh look, read the piece from beginning to end—without making any revisions! See the complete arc of the story you are trying to tell, and don’t get bogged down in nitty-gritty editing. Once you’ve seen the piece as a whole, you can go back section-by-section to make more-informed rewrites.
3. Proofread? Yes! Overly tinker with? No. Of course, your work should be meticulously proofread and formatted. After all your time and effort carefully writing and rewriting a piece, you don’t want to have a literary agent or editor reject it because of sloppy margins or blatant grammar gaffes. However, it’s also important not to overdo your editing. What started out as a great story or poem can be spoiled when you add or take away too much. When in doubt, let it be.
4. Get feedback. Still can’t decide if your manuscript is submission-worthy? Call in reinforcements. Ask the opinions of your writing group or critique group, friends, and mentor (if you have one). If the general consensus is that your writing is ready to be submitted—go for it!
5. Don’t flinch! Perhaps Leonardo da Vinci said it best: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” You may not feel 100% certain, but if all indications are that your work is ready to send out, don’t let “what ifs” hold you back. Take a deep breath, be brave, and make your submissions.
Every writer experiences that irresistible urge to edit and improve his or her work. This is a vital part of becoming a better writer! Just make sure you don’t fall into the trap of insisting on absolute perfection and over-revising. Perfection is unattainable; chasing it will only leave you frustrated and unhappy. Instead, focus on creating the very best piece you can. After following these steps and making your revisions, you’ll develop a sense that your writing is done. And that’s how you’ll know—it’s time.
Once you’ve made the decision to send out your work, the idea of researching and targeting all the right markets for your submissions may seem overwhelming. Don’t procrastinate and lose your resolve! Send your work in to our Review Board today and learn how Writer’s Relief can help you with making submissions.
Photo by Nic’s events