If You Love Something, Let It Go
When should we let go of a draft? Well, like so many writing-related things, this can be a real ‘piece of string’ question. That said, there are some best practices to consider that will help you know when to let go. Ready? Let’s go …
1) Have THE GUTS To Finish!
To often, writers can’t let go of drafts. They will tinker with them endlessly, making submissions alongside these endless edits. This frequently leads to them trying to make multiple resubmissions. This is a bad idea, because industry pros want to see fresh work, not rehashes of your old one. Finish BEFORE you send it anywhere.
2) Create A Submissions Strategy
Often writers will have an ‘ad hoc’ submissions strategy. This usually means throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Whilst this *can* work, it’s more by accident than design. This means that even if successful one time, the writer will find it hard to replicate.
So, know what you’re doing and create a submissions strategy. If you don’t know where to start with this, check out B2W’s on-demand online course Submissions Secrets.
3) Don’t Forget to work out HOW you will do it
When you are creating submission strategies and career goals, don’t forget to make them concrete. It’s very easy to set a goal like ‘Getting an agent’ … but it will likely come to nothing if you don’t have the steps to MAKE IT HAPPEN. For example:
”I want to have made [X AMOUNT] of submissions by [THIS DATE] to literary agents.’
From there, you can record how many of these agents got back to you and what they said. In addition, you have recorded the date, so you can follow up with them 8-12 weeks later if you hear nothing.
4) Set Yourself A Personal Number
Some of us can take multiple rejections and roll with the punches. Others feel each one very deeply. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. Fear of rejection is real and most of us will get upset, at least from time to time. This is okay!
One thing I advise Bang2writers on is setting their own personal number. For example, early in my writing career I decided I would try for 100 rejections in one year. This prompted me to make multiple submissions to lots of different things. I’d hit my target within about six months! It really helped me get over my own fear of rejection.
Of course, this route of ‘aversion therapy’ is not for everyone. If you feel things deeply and don’t want to ‘get over it’, that’s fine. So set your own number on your submissions.
As an example, a Banger recently set her own number at 30. She made two waves of submissions of 15 each. The first cycle was a bust relatively quickly; she got 15 rejections within two weeks.
But because she still had the next 15 to go, she discovered she didn’t feel too bad. Sometimes breaking these things down can make all the difference.
5) Move On And Create New Work
One of the best ways of getting over your fear of rejection is writing something else. Not only do I get enamoured with a new story, I often forget I even made the original submission in the first place. This means the rejection doesn’t hurt as badly. The new work also means I can stay optimistic! My previous project no longer feels like the be-all-and-end-all.
Keeping Going Versus Flogging A Dead Horse??
We’ve all heard stories and read articles about famous authors who got tens or even hundreds of rejections for classic novels. This often leads Bangers to ask me this question …
If my book or screenplay is rejected A LOT, how do I know when to keep going … or whether I should let go as I am flogging a dead horse?
This is a good point. How DO writers know their work has merit in the face of 80-120 rejections or even more???
For me, it’s timing/numbers thing …
So if you get LOTS of rejection in a short submissions period? Then it’s probably because you made a LOT of submissions. This means you keep going and weather the storm.
In contrast, if you get a lot of rejections in a BIG window of time, it’s the work that’s the problem … which means you need to look at your draft and/or approach. More here in Top 5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make.