Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Over-thinking It

I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day (sorry for using you Sarah) about over-thinking it.

She has this AMAZING novel. It's a New Adult Contemporary Fantasy that is one of the most original ideas I've ever seen.  The characters where solid and the story had me flipping page after page with ease. Compared to how much she marked up my manuscript, her book had hardly any errors.

So when I saw her the other night I couldn't wait to hear how well her querying was going. I thought for sure she had already signed with some big agent and was just waiting for her $5,000 contract. But no. She hadn't even sent it out.

When I asked her why, a little grumble came out of her mouth that sounded something like "well, it could use a few more changes." I stopped her before she could even finish. She was over-thinking it. Big time.



Of course we all know that we shouldn't send in a manuscript that hasn't been looked over, agents and editors want something that they can work with, but that isn't the case with my friend. I KNOW she's put in the work to get her MS shiny. It may not be perfect (when is a book ever perfect?), but I sure enjoyed reading it and I'm positive anyone with a brain would pick her story up.

The thing is, I've been there. I've rung my hands and worried over every little thing, but if you over-think it too much you could lose the magic that once resided in the story. Sometimes you have to cast in your line and see if anything bites. It never hurts to put yourself out there. And if you're not having any success, you can always reel back in and try again.

So if you're over-thinking it, I urge you to stop and take the plunge. It will be worth it in the end!

28 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Ha, I totally understand how it is to over-think! I managed to stop myself enough to actually get my book published, but then comes another bunch of stuff to over-think! I wish I knew how to break the habit!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

It's easy to just keep fixing and tweaking until everything that we loved about the book has been fixed out. Great post.

Ava Jae said...

I think a lot of writers tends to fall on one end of the spectrum or the other--either they have a tendency to send their work out too soon, or they struggle to send it out at all because it still needs "tweaking." It's difficult for us to be objective enough to determine whether or not our WIP is ready to be sent out, but it's part of the process.

Cassie Mae said...

This is exactly what kept me from querying! When I finally took the plunge, it worked out pretty well. Now I'm going through the same thing with submissions, but there's nothing I can do about it, lol. Maybe it's a good thing for me.

Emily R. King said...

Wonderful advice! You're a great friend, Jen. :)

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Great post! Exactly what I needed to hear too. ;)

Krista McLaughlin said...

*facepalm*

I am over thinking it. You're right. I should just tweak it a little and start sending out my query. :)

Thank you for this. It was what I needed. ;)

Anonymous said...

Me over-thinking? Never. Wait...yes. Yes, that would be me.

prerna pickett said...

i have a tendency to do this, which is why I'm grateful for CPs and Betas letting me know what's working and what isn't, it takes some of the guess work out.

Carol Kilgore said...

I can be guilty of overthinking things, too. Excellent advice. Nice to meet you at Emily's blog.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I over-think at every stage. Once I'm at the end of the edits and I start changing things back to the way they were in the first draft, I know I'm over-thinking!

VikLit said...

Oh gosh you are absolutely right, I am guilty of this too! Sometimes you just have to set your MS free.

Leigh Covington said...

Yes, yes, yes! While I think it's important to make sure your MS is polished and beautiful --- there is a time to stop and say, HEY! IT'S READY! Otherwise you could write and change things forever.

Glad you brought this up today! Very true. :)

Tonja said...

It's hard to see when your own work is ready. That's great that she had a friend who could tell her it was ready. Hopefully you convinced her.

Sherri Lackey said...

Hmmm, that's something to think about. When I finished my first revision I thought: There, it's perfect! After the fourth or fifth revision I thought: It's crap... Maybe I need to just let someone read it and give me his/her honest opinion. :)

The Golden Eagle said...

Great advice. A lot of writers, I think, are perfectionists--but as you said, books aren't perfect.

Sarah said...

No need to apologize, Jennie. If anyone should be a cautionary tale about over-thinking a manuscript, it's me for sure.

I promise to stop...soon... I swear! Next week I'll send my queries, I'll even let you know when I have, so you can keep me on track. ;)

Kelley Lynn said...

This is so true! You just gotta go for it.

Anonymous said...

I really like your post. Sometimes you have to close you eyes to take that plunge of faith. But in the end its worth it. We learn and do better the next time.

C.M.Brown said...

What great advice, I will certainly keep this in mind!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I couldn't find a beta for After Elizabeth, so I spent HOURS editing/calling my mom and sister reading passages aloud. When I had memorized every sentence, every word, I knew I couldn't do anything else to help my story, and I didn't want to wait three months until my betas were free.

So I sent it off. And got a full request. But suddenly, I was all jitters, "No one else has looked at this...is it good?"

Well, I'm still waiting to hear back, but my beta (who finally has some free time) has been raving. There has been one comment about every ten pages. Each e-mail she sends is all, "This is your best work by MILES", and so for the first time, I'm confident in my story.

Here's hoping the agent is, too :)

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Such great advice. I've just hoped over from another blogger who seems to be doing just that. Good luck to Sarah with her novel.

Tara Tyler said...

it takes a good friend/cp who can come right out and tell you what needs fixin & what doesnt!

happy for her, looking forward to hearing more about her story!

Mark Noce said...

Plunge away! Better to try than no to try:) Besides, you can always go back and rewrite it again, that option is never off the table, so you might as well try with what you've got now.

Melissa said...

That's where the rubber meets the road, isn't it? Knowing when it's ready and when it still needs fixing. I think that insecurity stems from the times when our work WAS still in need of improving. I look back at some of my early attempts and cringe. But it sounds like this person needs to go for it. Good luck!

IWSG #179 (At least until Alex culls the list again. :P)

Jenny Morris said...

My girls help me not over think. They are like, it's ready! LOL. So I guess it's nice that your friend has you to do that for her.

Sabrina A. Fish said...

Well said! And way to be a good friend. I am going on 12 weeks since I sent my own in. The wait is a killer.

Livia said...

Well said! I over-think it too and when I stop over-thinking it, I can write better :)