Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Trust Your Gut

by Annette Lyon

In light of the holiday, this will be a brief post, but it's something I've been thinking about ever since a recent edit job.

The manuscript was non-fiction. I spent quite a lot of time working with the author over several months. Then she sent me a chapter that didn't feel like the rest of the book. The flow was gone. The topic felt off target. The entire chapter just rang untrue.

I was hesitant in how to approach my comments, so I tried to be as gentle as I could when I told her that, in my opinion, she should cut the entire chapter. It didn't work, and the book didn't need the information in it.

Her reply surprised me. She basically said, "Actually, I was wondering about that. And I agree."

Her gut was already telling her the chapter wasn't working. Why didn't she just pull it out on her own? She needed an outside confirmation that she was right.

Writers need that. The longer we write, the better we get at feeling those gut instincts and acting on them. But no matter how long we write, we still need outside feedback. While not all feedback will be something you agree with, it's all valuable.

And quite often, it'll be something that'll make you think, "Yeah, I knew that." The commentary resonates, and you just know they're right.

As you move on with your next writing project, try to trust your gut. That means having trust whether it's telling you positive or negative things.

A caveat: Your gut isn't your internal editor. Don't confuse the two. Get rid of the editor/censor (it's the loud voice yelling at you) and listen to what the work is telling you, what your instinct whispers.

Then, after you get outside reviews, you just might realize your gut knows what it's talking about.


Sue said...

This is such great advice. I was so scared to share my manuscript with someone, but when I finally did, her feedback was exactly what I needed to hear. She managed to put words to the little spots that were really niggling at me. Outside eyes are a very good thing. Merry Christmas!

Danette said...

Love this post. It's amazing how much gut feeling goes into writing a book. And the more you do it the more you can gage what needs to be what. Now if only I would get that gut feeling of what publishing company is going to publish me. LOL!

Heather B. Moore said...

This is great! I've been through some editing experiences that I've had to really rely on my gut to make the decision. And I've been glad I've done that, even if the payoff is a very long time coming.