The Insecure Writer’s Support Group ~ No#58


I apologize for the late post. I was offline for a week and had every intention of writing and scheduling this post in time for the monthly get together. But that did not happen. *sigh* As they say, better late than never…

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.

A big thank you to our co-hosts for this month’s posting: Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley. Don’t forget to visit them and thank them for co-hosting!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG.

OCTOBER 5th QUESTION: How do you know when your story is ready?

Every writer knows that writing a book means rewriting and that you have to rewrite until it’s up to scratch. I say up to scratch because I don’t know if a story is ever perfect. Probably not because many writers tend to have a love-hate relationship with their stories. It’s the well-known I-love-the-story-one-week-and-then-hate-it-the-next syndrome. So it has nothing to do with perfection. Bearing this in mind, how do you know when the story is completed? After the tenth, twentieth or thirtieth rewrite? Leonard Da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” At least we’re lucky to get so many chances at polishing our stories to get them to a point where they’re as ready as can be. So how will I know when to “abandon” my story and send it out into the big wide world?
To be honest? I’m not certain…
Besides the technical considerations and input provided by critique partners and beta readers, I think the writer’s “gut instinct” plays a role in knowing when the story is finished.  Every story is a unique extension of that particular writer, who spends months and years sifting through the muddiness of his imaginary world and characters, trying to make sense of it and put everything together. So who knows the story better than the creator of that story? Having said that, I’m keen to see what other writers have to say on this topic.

You still have time to get those submissions in for the next IWSG anthology. Get those fantasy stories ready. There is an adjustment in the details. Submissions can be between 3,000 and 6,000 words. Publication in a story anthology with the promotional power of IWSG behind you is a great career opportunity. See the site for full details.

To what extent do you rely on gut instinct when trying to decide whether your story is ready?


  1. Hilary on October 7, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Hi Michelle – there were lots of interesting posts about when is the story ready … some ideas for all … and of course we’re all so different … good to see you posting … cheers Hilary

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 7, 2016 at 10:49 am

    In that case, I abandoned a project this week. Sadly, it’s not done, just abandoned.
    Welcome back, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Maybe you’ll revisit the work sometime in the future…?

  3. Nicola on October 7, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I haven’t yet experienced the love-hate syndrome. I do get impatient when things aren’t finished to schedule and I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the moment with rewrites but I can’t say that I’ve ever abandoned a piece because I don’t like it anymore. Maybe that’s because I’ve not written enough 🙂 Glad you’re back. Have a lovely month, Michelle.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      Yes, I understand that feeling of being overwhelmed. But we just have to push through to a point where things are more-or-less under control.

  4. L. Diane Wolfe on October 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

    I think gut instinct is important. More writers just need to learn to trust their gut.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Scientists say that gut instinct or intuition, is a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool.

  5. Susan Gourley on October 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    The love/hate relationship with a story is so true. When you can’t look at it one more time, it might be ready.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      I’m sure you can relate from your many years of experience.

  6. Melissa Maygrove on October 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I miss IWSG. 🙁

    I agree about gut instinct. I also believe we shouldn’t be in a rush, which is sometimes difficult with deadlines and all. There have been times I’ve found mistakes on later edits that blew my mind – those ‘Gah! What if I’d missed that! things – and made me so glad I did another pass. Betas and CPs are invaluable, too, for their objectivity.

    Great post! Worth the wait. 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! 🙂
      Aren’t you still part of the monthly IWSG posting schedule?

  7. Mary Aalgaard on October 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Glad you were still able to get your post in. I think there comes a time when you can detach emotionally, then you can look at it with a more discerning eye, and let it go.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      I’m sure emotional detachment comes with time and loads of writing experience… 🙂

  8. Michael Di Gesu on October 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Hi, Michelle,

    Nice to see you made it…

    I always go by gut to tell me when I’m finished.. BUT…. a tweak here and there can never hurt. LOL….

    I’m better with short pieces than my novels. I never seem to stope working on them. LOL…

    If you get a chance, DROP by my blog.. I had a great, new project I have just finished and I’d love you to see the illustration I did..

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      The illustration is AMAZING! You are multi-talented… 🙂

  9. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor on October 8, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    That’s a great Da Vinci quote. I’m currently working on a story and can’t seem to finish it. Maybe I should just accept that at some point I’ll need to abandon it and hope for the best.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      At some point you’ll have to “abandon” it and leave it to the mercy of the outside world. Scary thought, hey?

  10. Carol Kilgore on October 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Once I have the story in place, I keep going until I find myself picking over random words. That’s when I know it’s ready. Maybe, LOL 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Maybe. LOL 🙂 Is a writer ever 100% sure? Probably not.

  11. HR Sinclair on October 10, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Leonardo was right. I think we can poke at our work forever.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      I wonder if any author is ever totally happy with the final product? Maybe the very famous, best-selling authors are…

  12. Ryan Carty on October 12, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Gotta trust that gut, and sometimes the words of your readers who tell you it’s ready. I’ve taken to the idea of leaving a story alone for an extended period of time, then coming back to it. When I do this, I think I get a more clear picture of its readiness.

    • Michelle Wallace on October 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Distance lends perspective. Yes, I believe this too.

  13. Christine Rains on October 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I’ve read a lot of gut instinct answers over this past week in answer to that question. Seems we as writers do that a lot, and trust in our critique partners. 🙂

    • Michelle Wallace on November 2, 2016 at 5:37 am

      Yes, and when you find CP’s that you work well with, hang on to them.

  14. Crystal Collier on October 19, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I was wondering how I missed your post, and then you answered it–you posted late. =) Well, better late than never–as long as there’s cheese involved. 😉

  15. Julie Kemp Pick on October 20, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Hi Michelle! Great Da Vinci quote and so true about the “love-hate” relationship with writing. I agree that “gut instinct” also plays a large role in knowing when it’s time to put the pen down and turn the story in. It’s always good to see you, Michelle!

    • Michelle Wallace on November 2, 2016 at 5:39 am

      Thanks for popping in, Julie! Always good to see you. 🙂

  16. Lynda R Young on October 21, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Ha, I hadn’t heard Da Vinci’s quote before. I love it. And yeah, gut instinct has a lot to do with knowing when a piece is ready.

    • Michelle Wallace on November 2, 2016 at 5:40 am

      Congrats once again on the new release, Lyn! 🙂

  17. Mina B. on October 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I wish my story was ready for the anthology. 🙁 Oh well. I’m shooting for a rewrite during Nano so wish me luck! I plan on posting for IWSG next week too! Yay!

  18. Kalpanaa on November 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I seem to have missed commenting on this post last month. Lovely post Michelle! I think gut instinct is really the best way to tell if your story is ready. But in order to trust it you have to know when you’re in the cycle of – I hate the story/I love the story and you also need to have had enough knowledgeable people read through it and give you technical feedback.
    I haven’t been able to write for the anthology, mainly because I was trekking in Nepal for most of October.
    Next time, hopefully.

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