Writing for your own pleasure is something anyone can do, but most writers have an aspiration to be published. To reach that aim you need:
- Creative inspiration
- Ability to write well
- Editing skills (yours or someone else’s)
- Sales prowess to sell your idea
- If self-publishing, then marketing, sales and retail skills
One writing analogy I read is that if you were a farmer you would want your animals to be in the best possible condition/shape before taking them to market. Your manuscript likewise needs to be the very best you can possibly get it.
A manuscript will not sell if it is poorly written, or full of spelling and grammatical errors. OK, you can self-publish anything ut if it is shoddy and substandard, people won’t buy your books twice.
How do I know if it is good?
Simple. Try reading it aloud to yourself. If something doesn’t sound right, it isn’t. If there is a glitch, or you stumble over something, or you even get bored, then someone with a less vested interest than you will feel the same but more so.
Get a second opinion, but who from?
Partners, friends, family members? Noooooo! Why not?
- They love you and don’t want to upset you.
- They have the best intentions but that doesn’t make your writing better.
- They are probably not qualified to critique it.
- They are put in a difficult position if you ask them what they think.
You need someone who knows about the writing process, who can honestly say “that section works really well, but this isn’t clear/is superfluous”.
Ideally you need to do this face to face with the person who can say “I’m not sure what you mean there” or “didn’t she have black hair in a previous chapter?”
You see, the reason you are asking anyone at all is because you are not sure of it.
Then, you have to decide whether to take the advice, if given.
Remember, revision is at the heart of all good writing. As is a decent proofread before you finally end.
When to stop writing
How do you know when you are finished?
If you are commissioned, you have a deadline. If you don’t meet it, commissions stop.
If not, you have to reach a decision. It can be hard to let go, but you must. As a child grows up to fly off into the adult world, your book has to fly off to be scrutinised by agents, editors or publishers.
You can be scared of finishing because writing your book becomes such a vital part of your life, but you must.
Then, move on to your next project … let that baby go.