It can be difficult to know when you’re done with a writing project. Have you used the right words? Have you said enough or too much? And there’s always that question about perfect grammar (say yes to the Oxford comma!). Whether it’s a book or a blog post, sometimes writing The End can be the hardest part.
This blog post topic was requested by a client who is often paralyzed by the task of hitting send with her manuscript or publish on her blog posts. I assured her she is not the only one. Here are some tips to know when your writing is ready to see the light of day.
How many drafts work best?
I write in layers and know many writers do the same. We start by getting the facts or plot points down and then layer in the setting, emotion, and themes. We go through and look at word choice and then finish off with a copy-edit or run it through Grammarly. Most of my book writing has five or six drafts, and I can get a blog post done in two to three drafts.
When do you know you’re done?
Good writing takes time. While I can hammer out a blog post in an hour, I have many years of practice under my belt. And, I still let everything I write sit for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes for a second draft. Of course, it takes way more time and drafts if we’re talking about writing a book. You know you are done when you’ve applied all the layers mentioned above, and you’ve made your point with the reader in mind. Don’t keep adding adjectives and examples over and over. Trust that your reader can infer and use their critical thinking.
What’s really behind the Publishing hesitation?
This is the million-dollar question with a simple answer: You. You need to get out of your own way. As they say, the answer is simple it’s just not easy. For some of us, the hesitation has to do with a perfectionist streak and being consumed by what others think of us. For others, our fear is based on how important this goal of writing is and always has been for us. In any case, the inner critic is what is usually holding us back. If you’ve worked through several drafts and find yourself fussing over tiny details, it’s time to tell your inner critic to sit down and zip it.
There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Ease your mind with a professional opinion. Send your work to an editor or to me for a manuscript assessment. Working with someone else can show you your blind spots and bolster your confidence to see that you’re on the right track.
If you struggle with getting your book started (let alone finished), download your free Outline eBook – it’s where your book begins.