So you want to be a better writer? Be evil.

What did I just say? Am I really advocating being evil to become a better writer? Is this about that whole sell your soul thing, because I thought we’d gotten past that…

dr evil

Nope. This is about an evil, yet magical object. I don’t blog about writing much, because I love to talk about writing. Once I started, everyone knows I wouldn’t stop and then the avalanche of unasked for opinions would likely crash the internet. Then YouTube videos of cute animals would become universally unavailable, and the world would sell out of Prozac in roughly 23 minutes.

But at the risk of accidentally killing all the digitized puppies chasing ducklings, I’m going to blog about writing today. So what is the evil, yet magical object? It is a list, actually. I usually entitle my list, “Things that worry me about my book that I don’t want to admit or deal with.” OR “You’re *&%$ing kidding me.”

I’ve written (hold on, gotta take off my shoes for this one) 13 1/2 books. Only on the last one did I finally grow the cojones to make a list like the one described above and holy WOW did it help. And double holy WOW was it a lot of work (my critique partner is still lying limply on the floor, sweating into the carpet). But it made my book a billion times better. One at a time, I pulled out the things that I was secretly hoping none of my beta readers would notice, I wept to my husband about how unfixable they were, and then I figured out how to fix them.

Once I was done with the whole new, heavily Frankensteined draft, I emailed it to my beta readers. Again. Usually I include a list of questions designed to tease out their reactions to things I suspect are weak points in my manuscript, but this time? I didn’t have a single question. Every last thing in my manuscript that I knew was an issue had been fixed to the absolute best of my ability.

What an incredible feeling.

Honestly, should you ever send your writing out into the world any other way? *looks guiltily at nine published books for which I did NOT do this* Let’s not answer that, hmm? Let’s focus on the positive. And the future. And look, over there, a squirrel!

Seriously, though, can you guys all do this to your writing? Depends, how much tequila do you have at home right now? If you’d like to try, or you’d like some help brainstorming the problems you have no idea how to fix, comment on this blog or email me! I’d love to help and if I don’t know the answer either, well, at least we can drink some of your tequila.



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