writers / writing

#IWSG–When do you know your story is ready?

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question: When do you know your story is ready?

I have yet to think a book is ‘ready’, whether it’s a WIP, about-to-be-published, or out there already for years. I always think up ways I could have made it better. With my non-fic, since I update it every few years, I take notes on each book as I use it, collecting ideas for how to improve it on its next edition.

Usually, what dictates when a story is ready has more to do with a deadline or that I fear I’ll throw up if I read it even one more time. If I can’t read it, I can’t edit it, so that sounds like a good time to publish.

I’m going to be out there visiting you-all. There has to be a better method of determining done-ness in a book.

More IWSG articles:

Is NaNoWriMo Important if I Don’t Care About the Word Count?

Should I Continue My Newsletter?

Why do I get so few sales through Google Play?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

79 thoughts on “#IWSG–When do you know your story is ready?

  1. How true! It will never be perfect. Deadlines can be a way of moving ahead, but could be counter-productive because we are talking about creative output. “Will I be embarrassed by putting it out at this stage?”, “will I be able to look my near and dear ones in the eye” is more my process of deciding, though I know imprecise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a tough one. So very many times I’ve done another run through and been glad I didn’t query too many agents with THIS because I can make it so much better. Then I always think it’s done, but later I’ll go through again and keep tweeking it hopefully a little better each time. At some point you’ve just gotta stop, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You probably don’t spend a decade or more writing the book. It becomes counter-productive and the only thing that forces me to push send is when I can’t read it any more!

      BTW, this isn’t my current debut novel–it’s one I still won’t have ready until Summer 2018! I need professional help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, my first book was almost 30 years in the making. I started writing it as a hobby back in the ’80s. It went through many revisions over the years before reaching its final state. I love the story, and it will always be my favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, I think this comment is out of order, but my first book was Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble. My second book, Trouble By Any Other Name, took quite a few years, as well, because I also worked on that one as a hobby before finally getting serious about my writing in 2014. Lady was published in 2105, and Trouble came out in 2016.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely need a deadline or I just procrastinate, Jacqui. This is one reason I like entering my stories in awards or competitions because if I don’t force myself to make the deadline, I’m out!😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So funny to read all of the comments. We writers are perfectionists, as we should be. That’s why we get to the point of throwing up our hands and saying “let ‘er rip.” However, I do know writers who never let it go – it’s never “just right.” Unfortunately, then it’s also never read by anyone else but them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The greatest deadline is death. After doing my best to edit and proofread (and trying to remember I’m not perfect) I have to put stuff out there. In general the positive feedback and useful discussions (even about some negative feedback) make the writing life so joyful. It’s always a scary thing to expose yourself to critics yet there is a freedom in discovering you can handle it–good or bad (and it’s almost never as bad as we imagine).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jacqui – you make a good point about being able to update our books, articles etc … and when enough is enough – it really is … you seem to be able to pull the shutters down and launch the book forth … and that makes sense. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh you make me feel good, Hilary. I’m actually pretty awful about launching books (though I have a friend who’s worse than me). I have three books pretty much done, ready to publish, for several years now. I’m committed to putting these out there so I can move on.


  7. I know what you mean Jacqui. I’ve gone over some of my short stories so many times now (even with beta readers) that I’ve had enough of them. I’ve made them the best I can – I think it’s up to readers to decide now. It’s good to meet you.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That works for me. Actually, I’m too invested so I keep wanting to go back and change things even after the deadline. It’s been a hard learning curve for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s really interesting that you take notes and update your nonfiction. But it makes sense. Things are always changing and you need to stay current. I also tend to be sick of things at a certain point–and that’s usually when I’m close to being done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My nonfiction is technology in education and that has changed dramatically since I put my first book out there. I’m on the 6th edition of my primary series–updated every 2-3 years. Lots of changes!


  10. Setting a high bar for oneself gives a higher goal for one to strive to attain, but too high might be a detriment for some. I don’t think perfection can ever actually be reached, but it’s something to try for and hopefully not a deterrent to pushing forward.

    I like the idea of having a deadline.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah yes… deciding a book is ready when you’re sick of reading it one more time. Works surprisingly well, in my opinion. Of course, sometimes putting it aside for a month or two can help, but if it still makes you sick it’s time to publish it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For me it’s usually the point where I end up fiddling with a comma or a semicolon and a full stop, while trying to figure out how each sentence resonates best. What follows that phase is usually me making things worse. That’s when I give up, but I’m never satisfied.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “more to do with a deadline or that I fear I’ll throw up if I read it even one more time.” Ha ha ha ha. I agree. I have a methodology for revising/editing/proofing. When I get to the end of that process, I’ve done everything I can think to do and it’s as ready as I can get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I work through my WIP for edits, I can do about three times on a section, then have to move on. I’m OK to start over again when I finish, but those do-overs have a shelf life also. Maybe 20-30 times.


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