A lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to take suggestions with a grain of salt.
Part of the reason the first book I wrote was such a bomb: I tried to please everyone. (No you can’t read it. Possibly after I hack and slash will it ever see the light of day.) I wanted to write a book that everyone thought was awesome. The trouble is, everyone has an opinion and often they don’t match. If you look at reviews for popular books, there is always someone, who not only didn’t like the story, they hated it. You can’t please everyone and if you try, your art will suffer. This is true across the board in the art world.
Personal experience: There I’d be, in the middle of a great flow of content and inspiration, then screech: So-and-so told me I needed more detail. So I’d go back through what I’d just written and rewrite everything. Here’s the problem with that, you just cut off your free flow and it’s near impossible to get back once it’s gone. You need to write until you’re empty, figuratively. (Take a break when your head starts to go fuzzy, or you’ve been at it for two or more hours.) Don’t let yourself get distracted by other people’s opinions. If you don’t represent yourself who will? Have faith that what you are writing is what is to be written.
However, there is a caveat to this advice: Experts. I’m not saying self-proclaimed experts. But those that are constructive in their criticism and include advice. Those warriors who have been through the trials and survived with a finished project*. Anyone can tell you your product sucks, but those that want you to succeed will tell you why and how to fix it. Though this still needs to be taken lightly, especially if the advice is stylized. Everyone has their own style of writing which works for them. Trying to model yourself after another form can end up looking false and disingenuous.
Pick someone you trust to edit your book. (Yes, you need an editor.) Even if you have a Master’s Degree in Creative writing and a minor in Editing or vice versa. You need someone with an unbiased eye to help the first round of editing. No one creates a perfect product* the first time. If you have someone you trust and has the right credentials, then you will always assume positive intent when they tell you something doesn’t work or feels awkward. If you choose someone you are unfamiliar with, or is unfamiliar with your work, then it can seem that they are attacking you personally when they rip apart your hard work.
Stay tuned for next weeks Post: Beta Readers – You Need Them
*Your art is a product to be consumed. We will get into that next week.