As writers, we tend to have this belief in ourselves that can only come from the inside.
It is a great thing. That little voice inside that tells us “You can do it, this is fantastic, keep going!” It’s that little push we sometimes need to finish out a paragraph or a chapter or the entire manuscript.
There is a little problem in the process, though. You see, when we write, everything is internal. The words coming from our brains, making the synapses fire off, traveling through our nervous system and ending up at our fingers where we either type a word out or grab a pen and write it longhand.
Once we have completed this task a hundred thousand times we have a rough draft of a work we created in our head. What happens next, though? We read the work over again to find flaws and fix mistakes. However we don’t really read it. We let our mind read it. Our eyes scan the pages and send the words to our brain.
It Makes Us Happy
Rinse, repeat (a few to several times) until we have a final, polished version and our brain sends an electrical signal to our face to make us smile.
We are happy, we are content and we are about to spend the next 72 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.
I beg you to postpone that smile. I beg you to stop thinking about your future millions and read your own story. Actually read it. Grab the manuscript hold it in your lap and open your mouth, speak the words, read them out loud.
This will destroy that smile, I can promise you.
This isn’t a bad thing. It just let’s you know that your story is not quite ready for the masses. Believe me. I learned this the hard way.
There is a Simple Fix
Just read your book out loud! It will sound completely different to you. You will see that that chapter you rushed to add was not written in the same voice as the rest of the novel. It will show you that your story arc slows down in a spot you didn’t expect it too. It will show you that your verb tense shifts in horrible, unexpected ways.
Reading your work out loud will change how you read it. It will read as a prospective agent or publisher or the public is going to read it. Unkempt and for the first time.
It is a harsh reality. It is brutal. But, it is necessary.
That chapter that you thought was so well written and so scary that when people read it will get so spooked they start looking around the room for ghosts; read it out loud and you will find weak spots in there that will make the whole chapter crumble.
You Aren’t Bad
Don’t hate yourself. You aren’t a bad writer. Your words are still powerful. You just need a tad bit more work.
Do the work. You have put enough effort into this thing to make it worth your while. You are almost to the end. If you have to rewrite a page, or a chapter, or even the entire thing; do it!
Then read it aloud again. Notice the difference. Mark your weak spots. Fix them.
Now you rinse, fix, repeat.
When you can read it aloud to someone else and not have to stop or wonder if they understood what you just said… you are ready.
Write your book. Internalize every aspect until you have a smile on your face. Then, sit down and read your book. Loudly. Proudly. Fix your errors and denied mistakes.
Your work will thank you for it.