20 Dec 84. Trust but Verify
Even if this is your very first time writing a book, you still bring invaluable experience to the process.
You have experience as a reader.
Over the years, you’ve absorbed a lot of what makes some books work and what causes others to fall short whether you were consciously trying to learn or not.
Your instinct as a reader will often give you a little whisper when you need to revise something in your manuscript.
In this episode, discover why you should trust that instinct and how you can verify that it’s on the right track.
Mentioned in This Episode
Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.
How’s your writing going?
I hope your week and your writing are both going well.
I’m just getting back from a writing retreat, which may become a fall tradition for me.
I get so much value from writing a little every day, but I get a different kind of value from getting away from the demands of everyday life—for days at a time—so I can really dive into the writing.
Last year, I took a solo writer’s retreat at a local hotel.
That was great. The solitude gave me a lot of room to think and plan and write and revise.
This time, I went with a total of four published authors, including my friend Anita, who’s also an author coach.
We all stayed in a condo on the beach in Destin, Florida. I’m a sucker for the water, and the view and sound of the ocean provided the perfect background for creativity and writing.
While I do love solitude, having four different voices to converse with and bounce ideas off of provided a different kind of inspiration.
Our dinner conversations covered everything from genealogy to wealth creation, and of course, we spent a lot of time talking about the state of traditional publishing and self-publishing.
One day, I coached Anita to help her identify the themes of the book she’s writing and mine her life for more content.
And the next day, she coached me to work through refining the structure of my book and where I can make some cuts.
Right now, my manuscript is about 60,000 words, plus another 10 or 15,000 in a separate document, and I still want to add some stories.
I’m not going to publish a 90,000-word book, so my focus on the retreat was to look for content to cut and tighten my structure and the thread that runs through the book—the line on which all my content hangs.
Here’s the thing I want you to know.
About 90% of the suggestions Anita made were things I knew I needed to change.
I could already see those holes.
And it’s not because I’m an experienced writer or because I’m an author coach.
Of course my experience helps, but even when I was a newbie writer, taking writing classes and participating in workshops, I usually knew when I needed to change something with my work.
When my professor or my mentor pointed out an opportunity for improvement in my writing, I almost always saw it coming. Most of the time, I was hoping they wouldn’t mention it, but they always did.
Back then, my bigger issue was that I didn’t know how to fix it.
But as a reader, I could still tell when something wasn’t quite right.
Usually, when I got feedback from the person I was paying for that feedback, it confirmed what I already knew.
I needed to go deeper with the writing. I needed more clarity on the idea I was trying to convey. I needed to add or cut something.
The main reason I went on the writer’s retreat and sought Anita’s input and feedback was to verify what I intuitively knew about my manuscript. Yes, I wanted to hear any other suggestions she had, but I also wanted to see if she would pick up on what I believed needed revision. And of course, she did.
As you read through the chapters you’ve written, pay attention to what the voice of the reader inside you is saying, even if it’s just a whisper.
Make a note where the writing feels choppy and needs more flow.
Note where you think you need more detail, new word choices, a different story, more or less dialogue.
Pay attention to anything in the writing that causes you to bump, stumble, or question whether it should be changed.
Never ignore that little voice. If you do, your readers will tell you about it in your Amazon reviews.
And don’t feel like you need to know how to fix or improve everything on your own.
Depending on where you are in the process, you can get the feedback you need from a writer’s workshop, from an editor, or from your author coach.
I typically have my coaching clients send me a chapter at a time so we can discuss any issues before they get too far into the writing.
That way, they don’t repeat the same “errors” over and over, from chapter to chapter. (And even if they do, likely out of habit, I’m there along the way to help them catch those errors.)
Trust your instincts, my friend.
If you think something in your writing needs revision, you’re likely right.
Reach out to a pro who can verify and confirm that you’re on the right track and who can give you suggestions for how to elevate your writing to where you want it to be.
The free guide will help you get clarity and get started writing.
That’s all for this week’s episode, my friend.
Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words, I’m your author coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.