Friday, August 26, 2022

Am I Any Good? What to Do with That Question and How to Tell

I subscribe to quite a few writing newsletters and blogs by writers I admire. One is George Saunders who writes a Substack newsletter called Story Club. This week, Saunders answered a reader question about self-consciousness and the question "Am I any good?" In a brilliant response he gently guided the new writer through the self-education of two parts: the writer and the editor. If the question (Am I any good?) is asked during the writing part, it stops the process. It's an editor question, a question best asked and answered once the writing is at least roughly drafted.

A reader of this (my) blog wrote in recently about my recommendation to let a manuscript rest for 1-2 weeks before the editing part dives in. The 1-2 weeks is my best-guess minimum. Some writers need more time, some less. The goal of this rest is to allow a clean transition between the writer who is typing words on a page and the editor who is asking, Is this any good? The two are not usually in sympathetic conversation. They need to operate in separate rooms, especially if writing books is new to you.