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Revisiting Self-Doubt

Let’s talk about self - doubt.

We all know this writing journey can build you up just to break you down. I heard someone once likened it to going on job interviews over and over again. We get turned down, we try again hoping for just one yes.

I believe this but I also have to admit sometimes when you receive two or three rejections on the same day, you do question whether you’re good enough.

That's where sometimes, a timely webinar can make the difference. I would like to tell you about wo webinars that really helped me both to hone my craft as well as heal my self- confidence. Both of these webinars were hosted by the awesome Pat Zietlow Miller.

The first webinar related to cutting the fluff – basically say what you need to say in as few words as possible. This was mind blowing for me . Right after the webinar, I pulled up one of my stories and using Pat’s techniques trimmed 170 words! Before I did that , I was certain I needed every one of those words – turns out I didn’t and my story was leaner and more enjoyable for it! I even shared it with my corporate team because I saw how it could benefit us writing reports.

The second webinar was on creating cross- generational picture books i.e. books that appeal to different audiences, while keeping in mind your core kid audience. It could be a as simple as a nod to an adult with a reference or a joke or deeper like an experience such as love or loss.

Prior to this webinar, I had a critique on one of my stories that had me feeling a bit dejected. The story was a personal one to me – a bit of a departure from my humorous stories. It flowed easily and ended up being lyrical - full of heart and emotion. However, the feedback ranged from changing the structure/ style even the main character.

Pat’s words were what I needed to hear – write the stories you’re passionate about even if you think no one will read it – because if you feel so strongly chances are others will as well. . So I encourage all you out there, write your stories and make them the best they can be.

That leads me to another topic – Critiques.

Every writer knows the importance of having your work critiqued before querying. For me I use two types – my critique group and paid critique services.

My critique partners (CPs) are wonderful. They provide informative suggestions as well as positive reinforcement. Now you may ask why I would use a paid service if I have CPs - Fair enough.

I use paid critique services sparingly. Maybe I received conflicting views from my CPs and I need an independent intervention or I am stuck on a particular story for a while and need a fresh pair of eyes or sometimes it’s just to confirm it’s ready to go.

There are a lot of great persons out there offering critique services especially in the PB market. Prices can range from $50US upwards. When I first started on this journey, I wasn’t picky, I basically chose persons I could afford at the time and for the most part it worked out, I got some helpful advice.

But as I moved further along in my writing journey, and after having the benefit of the PBChat Mentorship, I became a lot more selective in terms of paid critiques.

The most important thing I learnt is to choose someone who is experienced in writing the style of PB similar to yours i.e. if it’s a humorous, quirky book choose someone who has published a few of those. Likewise if it’s nonfiction or lyrical and full of heart find a like-minded published author.

But above all, no matter who gives you the critique never take their word as the be all end all. It’s cliché but it’s true, writing is a very subjective business. The best critiques enhance our stories never let someone’s opinion change your story’s heart.

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