Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Writers, do you ever feel this way? For me, it is absolute truth….


village1I’d still be writing 200,000-word monstrosities with marginal plot if I hadn’t found the courage to let others read and critique my writing. Terrifying at first, to be sure, but I cannot quantify how much I’ve learned from other writers, critique groups, and writing classes since then. It’s made me the writer I am today. If I ever get Hooligans published, I’ll be thanking at least 17 people (and counting) by name in my Afterward for making my novel what it is today. I just don’t even want to imagine what my novel would have been without them. I got feedback on multiple occasions that made me go back and pretty much re-write the entire thing, but each time it got better and better. I made some people read various first chapters at least three times. Without all my writer friends, it would have been sad. Just sad.

Writing is a solitary pursuit, but harnessing the skill and knowledge of other writers is what makes my novels happen. I’m constantly amazed by the generosity and thoughtfulness that my writer friends devote to work that isn’t even theirs.

If you have to give an Oscars speech thanking the people who helped make your novel, what might you say? Who would you thank?

18 thoughts on “Writers, do you ever feel this way? For me, it is absolute truth….

  1. authorleighmichaels

    200,000 word monstrosities with marginal plot… yep pretty much sums up my early work lol.

    Feedback from others has been huge. It’s also true for me that feedback on my early works changed how I focused on my more recent works. It’s so easy, especially when you are emotionally invested in your plot, to lose yourself in the emotion, and forget to be realistic. For me, the excess wordiness in the past came from extensive descriptive narrative, because I just thought I had to say EVERYTHING. I’ve learned much better how to trim and cut and use more effective words and phrases to capture what I want to say in a more concise manner, as well as to just plain leave some things out.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      I agree with everything you just said! For me, too, it’s being learning a lot about showing instead of telling, keeping tension on every page, and taking a more structured approach to plotting, all of which I learned from other writers, either in writing classes or critique groups!


  2. eclecticalli

    So very true. I feel like the recent feedback I’ve been seeking has helped me A LOT with my writing… I can’t wait to see what happens when I actually complete a novel-draft and ask for feedback. “Can’t wait,” meaning “scared to death, but know it will be good for me.”


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Yes! Terrifying but good for you, kind of like going to the dentist 😛 For me anyway. It’s definitely gotten easier and easier with each successive critique, too. And oftentimes I find my readers actually confirm a sneaking suspicion I’ve kept locked away in my subconscious. And I find, too, that critiquing other writers helps me become a better writer, too! Anyway, happy writing and best of luck with those beta readers when you get there. Send me a shout out if you need to commiserate!


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Absolute truth! It’s one thing to read about it, but to have someone show you and help you apply it to your own work, priceless. I tend to learn best by doing, too, as do most people.


  3. jbgarner58

    I totally agree with this. I reblogged and added my bit, which mostly echoes what has been said here.

    I always want more betas. I *need* more betas. You can never have enough of them.

    Sooo … anyone want to be a beta reader? I have books and books for you to read!


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Glad you liked my post and thanks for the re-blog! Yeah, building your legion of trusty betas takes time and luck, I hear ya! There’s this online writing community thing going on right now called #writeoncon and it’s got a forum for posting and swapping 1st 5 pages and queries and what not. You can also look to match up with betas, too. Happy writing and thanks for stopping by! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Haha I hear you! After I posted this, I was thinking again on who helped me at different points with this and it’s more than 17. Thanks for posting the link! I’ll go check it out. Happy writing and thanks for stopping by!


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