In the grand scheme of things, the writing process itself is not the hardest part.
Neither is self-editing, or rewriting, or finally constructing that dreaded query letter.
The hardest part happens when you lose control of your story.
Because that’s the whole reason you wrote it in the first place — to take control of a narrative. Alone.
One of the hardest things a writer has to do — and the one thing that stops many writers from ever moving forward in pursuit of their dreams — is hand their work off to someone else.
It’s like sending your baby off to kindergarten for the first time. You no longer have complete control over what happens to them. They’re in someone else’s hands, someone else’s care, now.
And there’s nothing you can do about it.
As much as you want your work critiqued — no matter how desperate you are to hear whether or not you’ve done a good job — you don’t want someone to pick it apart. To scrutinize it. To change it, without your consent, in ways you never would have if you’d been in charge.
I still hate when the draft I send to a publication isn’t the exact piece that’s eventually published. And I’ve been doing this fir six years now.
If you only limit yourself to your blog, where you have complete control over what gets published and what doesn’t, you’re wasting a thousand opportunities to grow. To thrive.
Even though it hurts to watch your precious work go through revisions, deep down, you know it’s for the best. You know that editor is either going to work their magic and turn your “just okay” thing into something beautiful, or they’re going to hand it back to you and say it’s better off never widely read.
Or you’re going to hear the words we all dread most: “It’s not ready for the world … yet.”
But still. STILL. At least a part of you feels relieved that someone has told you the truth. That someone has taken the time to show you what your manuscript could be one day, if you keep working on it.
We want criticism, yet we’re terrified of it.
Mostly, we’re scared to be told what we’ve written isn’t good enough.
Well, guess what? It’s a scary thing. Trusting strangers goes against everything we were told growing up. Yet here we are, sending our masterpieces off to someone, not knowing what it might look like when they send it back. If they ever do.
But really … what do we have to lose?
What’s the point, if you never take a chance — if you never at least TRY?
You never know what will happen. There’s no way to predict the outcome.
But don’t let that stop you from submitting. And definitely don’t let it keep you from writing.
We’re all afraid of something. It’s the writers who can press through it and Do the Writing Thing anyway that will one day succeed.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.