Monday, June 7, 2010

The Importance of Hating Your Book

If you've ever done intense edits, you know there's this point where you absolutely, honestly hate everything about your book. From the idea to the characters to the actual words—it's all a load of crap.

No. Worse.

There aren't even words to describe the blob of words you've created. You could spend days coming up with hyperbolic metaphors about the utter crap that is your manuscript (in fact, you might even do just that), and they still wouldn't fully get across how epically your book SUCKS.

This is the point at which you consider scrapping the whole thing, moving on, and pretending you never wrote it in the first place. This is the point where shiny new ideas start to entice you because they'll be much better than this stupid book. This is the point where anything looks better than writing—even cleaning out your refrigerator. And organizing that one closet no one ever opens. Or maybe watching all 15 or so seasons of Top Model back to back...

Most importantly, this is the point where you must keep going at all costs.

When you hate your book, it opens up a new avenue of editing, one where you will be as ruthless as your worst critics. Your book will grow. It will improve. It will become the book you want it to be—a book you can be proud of.

Be warned: this phase is in no way fun. It's actually more like torture. You will feel like a crappy writer, and even knowing you've reached this phase will not help you get past it. The only way to get through is to do the work, as hard and as impossible as it seems. One painful, frustrating step at a time.

But when you're done, somehow the hate subsides. You realize your book is better, and you're proud of what you've accomplished even if there's still more to do.

Hating your book isn't a sign that it's time to move on—it means you're almost there.

Now, back to this $*(&#$ manuscript...

*sigh*

42 comments:

  1. This is where I am :-(

    All the parts are there, I just have to get them in the right order and straighten all the kinks out of the chapters... and I hate them.

    I got a little loopy a couple of days ago and went and made fake bookcovers. Now I must finish because if there's a cover, the cover needs a book to go in it.

    Shush. It works for my brain, don't blow the illusion ;-P

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  2. Oh, and here I thought I was the only one who wanted to curse, stab, burn, and rip my ms to shreds.

    Looking at my first one during this process all I could think was, "Word Vomit through and through."

    Yikes! I JUST got out of this phase. Thank goodness. My sanity was starting to slip past me.

    ~JD

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  3. Yes, I know this phase well. It sucks, doesn't it? :( Eck. But you're right, this is definitely where the major editing can shine through and make it into something worthwhile. Keep writing, we have to keep writing... *sigh*

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  4. Lol! This is exactly where I am . . . and have been for a while. I think I need to be more ruthless with the cuts though. Oof, it's been a lot of work.

    It does stink, but thanks for making me feel better about feeling that way.

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  5. Absolutely brilliant post!! I was there a week ago. Man, my book SUCKED. And it made me more critical, and also made me more detached, and I ended up cutting LOTS of words and now... not so sucky!

    I honestly didn't know other writers felt this way... I'm so glad its not just me!

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  6. Oh I so hate my book right now - thank you for this! :)

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  7. Sounds like you're in some intense edits :). I'm sending good vibes your way, I'll be there soon!

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  8. I'm so happy to read this today because I'm really feeling that my book is crap and I'm a hack writer. So I guess that's a good thing :)

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  9. Pretty sure I have never been out of this phase for more than a few hours at a time since I started my MS. I'm ridiculously hard on myself.... I just have to push through to finish than go back so I can fix it...

    It's just so frustrating because whatever you put down isn't half as good as the way you imagined it... which only makes sense if you're a crazy person, like me.

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  10. Alas, if only we could get through that phase in ultra zombie form and not have to remember any of it.

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  11. I'm there. I've been there for weeks and will continue to be for weeks to come. Now in my third round of edits, I need to remove one of my characters. She wasn't a 'main' character, but was found in most of my chapters, somewhere in the background. Now I must address all 150+ places she comes up and rewrite my climax. *sigh*

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  12. Oh I have SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO been there!!! The why-did-I-ever-think-I-could-actually-do-this phase. Luckily it passes. I took a few days away and felt better...refreshed.

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  13. Ah! I'm supposed to hate my WIP, not myself for being a crummy writer? Wow, I should try that. LOL.

    I have to say that even over the last 2 years of intense work on my wip, I've never hated it. (That would be so much nicer than my form of torture.) I do however get extremely frustrated with myself for not being about to find the words to convey what I see, hear and feel in my head in relation to the story I want to tell.

    Yeah, I need to refocus my anger I think. It's easier to make up with your wip than yourself.

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  14. My manuscript has hit a suck factor of 10.

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  15. Um yeah...My house is SUPER clean...groceries are put away...all 10 episodes of Family Feud are played....

    UGH!!

    But seriously, I have been tossing back and forth the decision between scrapping my work or tearing it apart and fixing the HUGE problems.

    This post is perfect!

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  16. Wow. Just... wow. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now! I never thought about the fact that hating it could help you make it better. It seems so obvious when you write it down but wow, never ever thought of that. What a great post!

    I guess I should stop alphabetizing my dvd collection now, huh?

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  17. Uh, what if I hate my book and I'm only halfway finished writing it? That's probably a bad thing.

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  18. Thank you for this post. Seriously, THANK YOU!. It is truly serendipitous. I am on final edits (due next monday which I am terrified to realize is a week away) and I HATE my book. All of it. Everything I have written in the last week has been complete and utter tripe. I have no mastery of words whatsoever except perhaps the use of 'tripe' instead of 'crap'. Unfortunately I can't really weave tripe into the plot a this point. I am deathly afraid that my editor is going to hate what I've written and even more afraid that the book will be published as is.
    However the deadline looms and it dictates that I finish because if I don't then I am a loser as well as a writer of tripe.
    In another instance of serendipity my word verification is 'crompolo' which sounds like a variation of crapola.
    Please deliver me from writing any more crompolo!

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  19. Natalie, I pretty much adore your honesty. This post was super timely. Okay, off to put in some work and NOT watch The Bachelorette.

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  20. Natalie, you're right that you must approach your story with total venegance. It's all too easy to fall in love with certain phrases we've crafted and hang onto them like crazy. While I find it's hard to press the delete key, it's always better in the long-run!

    Thanks!
    Marissa

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  21. Oh, Natalie. How is it you're always in my head?

    I just had my (very loved and trusted) CP tell me that the stakes aren't high enough for my main character . . . and I realized he was absolutely right. I really, really want to start submitting again, but I know I can't until the book is good and right now--it just feels like crap!

    As always, thanks for the understanding and encouragement. You rock!

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  22. I thought it meant that I needed to take a couple of weeks off. You don't mean that I'll still want to delete the first hundred words when I go back to it? ;o)

    Good luck, Natalie!

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  23. Oy. That should have read "first hundred pages," not "first hundred words." If only . . .

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  24. I'm getting ready to hit this phase--and hard. Right now, I'm trying not to discard what I've written. I'm keeping in mind that I'm so close, so very close, and if I quit? I'll have to start all over again, which I don't want to do.

    Thanks for the post!

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  25. Oh I am SO here right now! I am filled with fiery hatred for my novel and want to shove it down the garbage disposal. But I won't...not yet, anyway. Give me a few more days.

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  26. Ooh, is there a Top Model marathon going on right now on T.V.? :)

    I also dream about my book during this phase. And in my dream, I am editing my book and it is really good. Then I wake up and realize I haven't edited a single word that day and I want to cry.

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  27. I got a little loopy a couple of days ago and went and made fake bookcovers. Now I must finish because if there's a cover, the cover needs a book to go in it.

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  28. I like to pretend someone else wrote it and hurl insults at it like there's no tomorrow.

    "How much fiber did the author eat to produce so much manure?"

    for example... :)

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  29. Chin up, Natalie! You can do this and you'll be so pleased when you are finished. Then you can move on to a new shiny thingy. :)

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  30. Insightful, as always! Good luck-- I'm off to look at my mss again. BRING it ON.....

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  31. Currently hiding from the slimy cretinous goo that is my work in progress. I hate it. HATE IT. It appalls me that I could have created something so pointless, nonsensical and unoriginal. gaaaaahhh

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  32. That's a really good post. Sometimes I look at my manuscript and think that no one will ever read it because it's not very good, and I feel tempted to give up. But thank you for encouraging us to keep working, because you're right; it is important.

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  33. This is sooo true. A totally awful and yet wonderful stage in writing. Sigh... :-)

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  34. Thanks for the pep talk. This is where I'm at right about now with my manuscript.

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  35. No longer a MS, it is a burn book. I want to char it and serve it to the wild animals if they would even eat it. Ok, thanks for the encouragement and helping us know that it is normal to feel this way about it. I thought evil thoughts are always healthy expressions of love for my book. hee hee hee.

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  36. I'm in good shape...I hate my book right now! Thanks for a great post.

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  37. Thank you for this post. I hate my book so much right now that I would like to see it dissolve and pretend I don't write, except that will never happen. Therefore stuck in circle of hating my book. As much as I very much don't want to, I will heed your instruction and pretend that this is the best editing time and that I will like my book once more.

    Sure don't believe it, but will try. Thank you.

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  38. Hysterical, Natalie! And so profound. Cause this is exactly where I am right now! I've been posting like crazy on my blog, I cleaned closets, wrote a gazillion emails, sent 115 texts in one day, made copious notes on another novel I'm not ready to edit yet, started smoking again, then quit, then started again, then quit, updated my iPod . . . well, you get the idea :) I love the novel I'm editing, but you're right, it does look like so much crap to me right now! Back to work. Thanks for the pep talk.

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  39. Thank you! I'm glad I'm not alone. I hate it already and I'm not even at the revisions stage!

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  40. I have been in this stage for two years. I just didn't know it was a stage. I thought it just meant I was incompetent.

    Thank you very much for the insight, and for Sierra Godfrey who pointed me to this post!

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