Some Unsolicited Advice for Writers
You can always find people who will tell you what’s wrong with your writing. They’re dying to tell you, as a matter of fact. They can’t wait to flip over that last page and start formulating constructive criticism to explain how to improve your book. They may have the best of intentions — even as their comments make you crumble before their very eyes.
Didn’t they know you just wanted to hear them say it was great? Didn’t they know all anyone wants is to be loved? And published?
My Best Piece of Advice:
Now that the internet has made publishing possible by turning a Word file into HTML and the stigma of self-publishing isn’t what it used to be, the main problem that remains is getting that love. So you have to learn to love yourself. This might involve years of therapy, some ugly arguments with your parents, perhaps a divorce and a trip to an ashram in India. In any case, you must do everything in your power to keep honing your craft and realize it’s the process of writing, not the finished product, that’s important
My fingers thought I was supposed to write that, but my best piece of advice is actually something else.
My Actual Best Piece of Advice:
You have to be your own worst critic.
Because nothing will improve your novel more than harnessing that need to be loved into your efforts to rewrite that book. It’s like getting married in Vegas while you’re still drunk. If you love your prose too soon, you won’t be able to see what’s wrong with it. So yes, I’m telling you to get to know your novel better before committing to the submission process, shack up together for awhile, and learn its foibles so you can make intelligent decisions.
Then you can show it to other people for feedback and crumble before their eyes as they tell you everything that’s wrong with it.
But remember… this is your show to run. That means you need to develop a critical eye so you can tell yourself what isn’t working. Then, when you take it to someone else and he tells you how lousy it is, you can be grateful: at least he didn’t see the previous draft. (Unless your newest draft just made it worse, of course.)