March’s writing – the joy of having a beta reader

Writing progressCripes, this wasn’t my best month for writing in terms of actual new pages generated. I had a bit of a crisis of confidence along the lines of ‘this is terrible, why am I wasting my time, no-one will ever want to publish it and even if they did I’d feel bad if people paid money for it because it’s so terrible.’ If you write, you’ll know that feeling.

So, I started editing and tidying the earlier bits hoping that it would remind me that I am at the very least a competent writer and provide some momentum to keep going. A very dear friend (and – crucially – professional editor!) also started reading and commenting on what I’ve done so far.

She’s not doing a full edit as I’d feel that I was taking advantage of her professional skills but she’s reading it chapter by chapter and flagging problems that she sees. And being a dear friend she doesn’t feel the need to mince her words which is really helpful! It’s good to have someone tell you when you’ve rambled on a bit or when a character behaves oddly. And having someone tell you that they loved something and knowing that they’re not just being nice is good for motivation and promoting that much-needed feeling of competence.

That’s the problem with letting your mum read your work – she will rarely, if ever, tell you anything useful because she’s your mum and predisposed to be nice. Don’t beleive me? Remember those fugly art projects you brought home from primary school and how enthisastic she was about them…

If you have a friend who can act as a well-informed beta reader in this way, then you’re in luck, especially if they enjoy the sort of books you write. Woo them with cake and sweet smiles.

I’m now feeling pretty positive and writing with renewed vigour although life keeps getting in the way. Hopefully I’ll get a fair bit done this weekend and later next week. The good thing about our son revising for his exams this summer is that I don’t feel as guilty about disappearing with my laptop and ignoring everyone.

Anyway, that was March – onward into spring! Good luck with your own writing.

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