Monday, July 25, 2011

Take All the Time You Need

You might not know this about me, but I lurk around query critique websites.  Sometimes I comment.  Sometimes I just read other people's queries, trying to learn from their mistakes, or I read the comments trying to learn better ways to do things.  One thing I've noticed - that I've been guilty of myself - is that the queriers don't seem to take enough time to absorb comments before they churn out another version of their query.  It's especially troubling when the query goes up one day and the revision goes up the next - and nothing has really changed. 

People, people, people.  Come on. 

I, of all people, know how hard it is to be patient.  I want it done and I want it done now.  If it has problems, I will fix them, turn it around and crank it out.  And more often than not, the newer version still sucks hard.  The main cause?  I didn't take enough time. 

Take the time you need to digest what people are telling you.  If what they're saying is that you need a major rewrite, take all the time you need - and recognize that 'all the time' is going to be a helluva lot longer than 24 hours.  Even if you work non-stop for 24 hours.  (Something you should never do, because if you're at that kind of frantic stage, you need to step away and gain perspective anyway.)

Anything good takes time.  Learning takes time.  Allow yourself time to learn and grow and get good.  It may be frustrating, but it's so worth it in the long run.


  1. Good advice, B.E.

    I usually do the frantic re-write stuff when I get a critique back from a reader (or when I get a request and talk myself into fixing what may not be broken). I think so many of us want it to be perfect - and so many of us lack the self-confidence to let what others say gel with what we know is right/good. I hope that made sense.

    Great post :)

  2. B.E.,
    I am in the stage of my life right now where I have so much going on that everything (including querying) is so overwhelming! I am getting ready for my last semester of college, just switched to a "grown up" job and recently got engaged, everytime I think about my novle I get an overwhelming sense of dread about it! Yikes! Hopefully this will get better otherwise I'll always be wondering what I'm supposed to do next! Great post btw!

  3. Thanks, Janet. I think we all just need to take a step back. Like I said, I'm guilty of it, too. A couple days even can help get perspective.

    Congratulations on your engagement! And finishing school! You're doing so many awesome things, you're allowed to get overwhelmed at the thought of taking on another monumental task - like writing. Maybe once the wedding and the semester are over, you'll have time to write again. :hugs:

  4. B.E., it definitely does take time to digest comments and think them through. I know I can come back to something I've written months ago and then suddenly see what it was that a critique partner meant by what they said (which I may have passed by at the time).

    I guess you have to balance that against how close to perfect to make something. You could work at it for years and never have it 100% perfect.

  5. Fabulous advice, B.E. It isn't until I've allowed advice to "marinate" for a few days that I can make a decision about what to change. Everything about publishing is slow... writing your query letter fast doesn't make things happen faster. In fact, it has the opposite effect.

  6. Great post! Yes, my general rule is to draft or edit and then step back and let it sit a while. Like, weeks sometimes.