Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting to 100%, Part Two

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago (was it really only a couple of weeks ago? Feels like a lot longer than that), I blogged about getting to 100%.

It sparked some interesting comments and a few of you tackled the issue on your own blogs. I'm going to elaborate a bit further.

Some of you said you didn't think you could get to 100%. I disagree (don't get all riled up -- read on). Because it's not about the writing. Take it from someone who did multiple rounds of revisions before going out on submission. Or from someone (who shall remain nameless) who has to do multiple rounds of edits for their editor.

Sure, the writing has to be good. The story original. The characters well-developed.

But that's not what I mean by getting to 100%.

That's an emotional state. You must absolutely get yourself to the 100% belief that your query and manuscript are as good as they need to be to land an agent or a book deal.

That's the 100% I'm talking about. That belief will give you the confidence you need when the rejections come. You'll be able to say, "Well, s/he wasn't the agent for me." and you'll keep querying and submitting until you find the one that IS for you.

It's emotional.


You'll be able to do the rounds of edits, because when you get to 100%, you'll be able to do anything your agent/editor asks of you. Because you're THAT GOOD.

It's emotional.

Please don't misunderstand me. Those close to me know the emotional mess I am 23/7. But for that one last hour, I'm at 100%. And that's when I query, rewrite, edit or read difficult emails.

So what do you think now? Are you an emotional tangle 23/7? Can you get yourself to 100% emotionally for at least a little bit? Lemme know.

63 comments:

Jessica Nelson said...

Hmmm, maybe if I go read the file that contains complimentary crits...lol
Seriously, I don't know if I can get there. I want to be there and everyone is talking about believe in yourself and stuff, but to say that my stuff is 100% good enough for an agent...I just don't know.

Palindrome said...

I think I can reach 100% most days...for about ten minutes. And I'm not an emotional mess so much as a lazy slob 23/7. I think that once I get past that I'll be closer to 100% than I am now or for a longer time.

paulgreci said...

Great post Elana! I like this 100% idea. You definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to keep moving forward against a tide of rejection because you'll probably hear the word "no" much more often than "yes" in this business.

Jamie Grey said...

Your 100% is a really great concept - it encompases so much more than just being the best you can be. I'm not sure if I'm ever at 100% b/c I'm still not convinced it's good enough (it's that damn perfectionist streak) but I'm going to try really hard not and find that place. It sounds like that's were all the magic happens :)

Cassandra Frear said...

Never ever thought about it in this light. How can a person judge their own work?

But you make an excellent point here.

Confidence is necessary.

Terri Tiffany said...

Great post! I know I'm not there yet as I about walked away from it all last week. But I'm pushing through, going to hire a professional editor and do what it takes to make it the best.

Connie said...

I think it is about being 100%--at least, for 23/7. That doesn't mean that you know the book is perfect--it's not. Nor does it mean the book is "good enough"--it ought to be much, much better. But you have to have confidence in it and commitment to it in order to keep submitting in the face of rejection. I'll always appreciate the agent who rejected my book but took the time to tell me to keep submitting because it was only a matter of finding the right agent at the right time.

salarsenッ said...

I don't know if you read Rachel Garner's post a few days ago. Seriously, the last paragraph made me well up in tears. The message you just spoke, Elana, is primarily what she said.

Believe in yourself, keep fighting, and if you truly believe you have a story to tell it will be told. It doesn't mean your work is flawless. Your confidence must come from a humbled place. But it's doable. 100% for an hour a day. I can do that.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I try to be 100% even through the negative vibes. Some days is more of a challenge than others. Your right though you have to believe in yourself!

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this post! And your comments on my blog that spurred this (I think) - thanks for the reminder :D

Piedmont Writer said...

I can see the 100% when I write a particulary great scene. When I sit back in my chair and smile and take all my conceit and arrogance and say, "Yes, I am on a par with Hemingway!" LOL.

But I think for the most part I'm usually hanging around 75%. I'm good but not great, I need work, but I'm willing to do it, I'll get there, but it may take some time.

Great post Elana, as usual. And thanks for the letters, they put me in perspective.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Yeah, it's doable - you just have to believe (even if it's only in that last hour)! Great way of putting it :)

Kelly Bryson said...

A whole hour? That's amazing!

I'm not finished with edits from beta readers, but my first 50 pages are in fantastic shape, I hope. Because I signed up for a pitch with an amazing agent months ago, thinking that I would surely be completely done by then, and then I wasn't quite finished. And he's got my first 50 pages now. So, man oh man, I hope I'm right about them!

Even if he passes, could my 100% be real? I guess so, but it's really hard to know for sure.

JustineDell said...

Oh, well that puts a whole new spin on it for me, then.

Sure, I like my book(s). Sure, I think they are okay. But I'm one of the people who will never say "I'm that good" unless and agent or publisher tells me so. Only that would make me legit and make me feel like I'm good.

Otherwise, I feel like I'm not. So, bummer...I just realized I'm not 100%.

No worries. Maybe one day I will be. ;-)

~JD

Jayne said...

I know what you mean... I guess I am not quite there yet - still lurking around the 90% mark. I was almost there until I started an audio version of my story and played it back to myself... ouch. That knocked me down! Found a few things that were missing from the umpeenth redraft... :)

Cheree said...

Ooh, I totally agree. I know the feeling of feeling 100%. It's the only time that I can find peace and serenity to write and really like what I'm writing.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

My philosophy has always been to get published or go down trying. I think this works with your 100%: I've had to believe my work is good enough to make it, OR I've fixed it until I could believe it.

Jennifer Walkup said...

Great post and it's tough to feel 100% some days. I think I drive myself (and prob my agent) crazy sometimes with it, but it is getting better and like everything with this business, there are so many ups and downs.

VR Barkowski said...

IMO, part of getting to 100% is realizing we can't do this alone. Writing is such a solitary pursuit that it's easy to forget how necessary the feedback of critiquers, beta readers, agents and editors is in getting us to full bore. Sure, we have to be strong emotionally to withstand rejection and constructive criticism, but the trick is to parlay that feedback into an even more awesome WIP. Improved WIP = even more confidence.

As for 100%, I think I'm up to ten minutes a couple times a week. :)

laurapauling said...

When I send a query I'm at 100%. And if I was just fooling myself into thinking I was 100%, I'll know it after the first few rejections and stop querying.

Deni Krueger said...

I think I learned to be 100% with my writing when I learned to be patient with it...not to push a story before it's ready...knowing when I need a break from it before I ruin it...and knowing when I can't take it any further on my own.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I recently panicked over a bunch of cuts I did. The agent read a partial then asked for the full. I went over the entire MS again because I couldn't get myself convinced I got it 100% right. I finally had to just believe it was 'good enough.' That took me over a month. After I sent it a couple days ago, I still see a word or sentence I can improve but nothing huge.Still I was beating myself up over it because it wasn't perfect. Your post reminded me to let it go and be more positive. Thanks!

Abby Annis said...

This is why I love blogging. It's so nice to know I'm not the only who does this. Sometimes I wonder, though, if that brief hour of confidence is when I'm being delusional and not seeing my writing clearly or if it's the other 23 hours. O_o I guess the fact that I totally overthink everything only makes it worse. ;) Great post!

Carol Kilgore said...

I get there. I don't often stay there long, but I get there.

Maribeth said...

23/7 I am. I do manage that 1 hour of 100%. It's not easy but there are those around who help. I'm blessed with a great support system.
Abby is right--blogging helps, too.


Maribeth
Giggles and Guns

Sara B. Larson said...

This is so true - it is emotional, because I could edit my stuff forever. I will probably always nitpick at it. But that one hour of 100% sure is lovely when it hits, isn't it?? :-)

Jen said...

You are so honest and that's why I love reading your posts! 23/7 you feel the scramble and chaos of life but for the last hour you are 100%. I'm glad to see I'm not being set up for failure. I can feel 100% for an hour, that's more doable than the whole day.

As for the stage I'm at, I'm still deep in revisions, and only my first set so there is still a ton of travel time to be had. I don't mind it though, in between it all I'm learning a lot from everyone on where they are, where they are going, and how long it took them to get there! I couldn't be happier!

Jaleta Clegg said...

It doesn't stop after publication, at least not for me. I had no problem believing in myself until the reviews of my book starting coming in. Some days I just want to curl up in the corner of my closet and cry. But I remind myself that other people believed in me enough to accept my work. I like your idea of 100% belief for as much as you can, not 100% of the time.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks for clarifying what you meant by getting to 100%! I think that if you can manage that, even for a short while, the remaining 23/7 won't be quite so low as it would have been otherwise.

Serenissima said...

Another great post! I agree that 100% is a state of mind/emotion. For me, what it takes to get to 100% has changed over time. With my first ms, I thought I was "there" and began querying. I wasn't, but it was still worth querying because I'd pushed my skills (and critique group) to the limit and needed the publishing world to help me calibrate my ability to assess my work.

With each project I do the very best I can--and then LET IT FLY. On ms #3, I got an agent. I'll keep going for that 100% glow until I get a book deal, and then I'll develop a 100% publicity plan, another book, and so on.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I *think* I get what you're saying--and I think you're right. I carry a lot of self doubt (don't believe me? Ask my CPs) But I don't let it stop me...so I must find a way to get to 100%, even if only briefly. Otherwise I never would've applied to USC film school, I would've run away with my tail between my legs on the first day when I found out I'd have my first film due in 3 weeks...and I'd never used a video camera. I definitely would't have finished my novel (this story was HARD to tell) And I can guarantee I wouldn't have queried. So for a very unconfident person, I sure reach high.

Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment. :)

Falen said...

i'm pretty laid back and have a healthy dose of self confidence, so even if i'm not at 100%, i can still handle rejection pretty well (mostly because i don't allow myself to be upset or anxious, because, well, blegh. i hate those feelings)

Lisa K. said...

That's an interesting question, Elana. For me, it has to be a conscious effort to push myself to that 100% for ssubmitting/querying, etc. It's more a decision that I make on any given day than anything else, if that makes any sense. And then I do it. But boy, some days are sure harder than others!

JoLynne Lyon said...

Great post, great advice. I think getting to 100 percent isn't just good writing advice, it's good life advice.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Which hour of the day is your 100% hour? I might have to test each one individually.
Cheers!

Nicole Zoltack said...

I just take it one day at a time. I try not to let the rejections bother me and most of the time, they don't. It's just a matter of finding the right agent for me and I'm ok with it taking time for us to collide.

Btw, there's a blog award for you on my blog!

lynnrush said...

Nice!! It IS emotional, isn't it?

Nicely said here. Love your encouraging transparency.

Patti said...

I'll feel I'm at 100% then something will happen and I fall back down. Confidence is my work, is definitely something I'm working on.

Krispy said...

I like that your 100% is about confidence. We're so used to hearing about getting the physical work to 100% that we forget we should be at 100 in our heads too. At least for some of the time so that we don't crumble under the pressure.

I'm not so much an emotional mess as lazy. XP

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post. I think I occasionally hit 100% emotional and then slump too. But it's better than nothing. I hope. :)

Lisa_Gibson said...

Well it's good to know that I can be a total mess some of the time too. Cuz' I for sure am, some of the time. :) But yes, I have my moments when I am zen, I am one with all that I'm doing, I am Writer Goddess of the Keyboard! Okay, so I'm a little over the top on the whole title thing but hey, a girl has to have some fun too. :)

Janet Johnson said...

I like to think I'm only a mess 22/7, but that's just me. ;)

100% in the confidence department is a must. Otherwise we would have long since quit.

Great post and good luck on those edits! (er, I mean good luck to that nameless person you mentioned).

Renae said...

I love this! So I will forgive myself for the mess that I'm in for the majority of the day and find that one hour to be productive.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Most days I'm 100% 23/7. But I can still have an off day. Like everyone else, I'm allowed that. :D

Talli Roland said...

Oh yes, 100 per cent is so hard to get to! But for that one fleeting moment in time, it's all good - if you can get there!

Carolyn V. said...

I try to be 100% 23/7, but sometimes I just sit around...eating my chocolate chips...and relaxing. So I can be pumped up to finish my 100%. =)

Jonathon Arntson said...

I think your 100% 23/7 and that one hour is when you question it all. If you don't agree, look in the mirror.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm a guy - emotional tangle does not fit with our persona.
However, passionate and full of belief - that I can do!

Sandy Shin said...

I agree with you, one hundred percently! It reminds me of a post by kidlit.com a few weeks back, about making your book the best it can be. It'll never be perfect, but you yourself have to believe it's your best. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think I can eke out at least an hour a day to hit the 100% target - as long as I keep reading positive blogs! LOL! :-)

Kara said...

My writing is not at 100%, but I feel like my attitude and drive are most days. I like what you say about even if it is just for 1 hour, then that one hour will really count for something right? :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm not sure I always have 100% confidence. I think it's common, especially if you're still querying, not to always be there. But I think it's okay as long as you persevere and at least know your effort was 100% if not the result in the editors/agents mind.

Jay said...

The only time I felt 100% was after I finished my first book. But that was truly due to a lack of experience. But if completed all the revisions I set out to - based on my notes, my writing group's comments, and a good long edit - then it's all I can do. Maybe that makes it 95%?

WritingNut said...

Oh, I get there... maybe for about 3 and a half minutes every two weeks, but I make it there.

And it's the best feeling in the world - it's when I feel like yes, I CAN do this, I can conquer anything... annnnnd, then it's gone!

But great post - your confidence in our confidence is a huge boost :) Thank you for reminding us to believe in ourselves.

Kelly said...

I think I'm a 97.4%er.

Lydia Kang said...

I make it there, but then I slide back. A lot!

Melissa said...

I hope I can get to 100% when it's time for me to query. I did a pretty good job of getting there back when I was student teaching. I always took my supervising teachers' suggestions/criticisms very well because I knew they were there to help me. Hopefully I can apply that same mentality to making my MS the best that it can be.

Medeia Sharif said...

I know what you're talking about when you say 23/7.

Sometimes I'm tired, down,or simply not in the mood to write.

And then I manage to find a burst of energy and confidence that gets me through emails, synopses, drafts, revisions, edits, the whole nine yards. I'm also good at working under pressure.

Kay said...

Well said! I like the concept of 23/7 and how one can be a train wreck during that time, but that last hour, the 24th hour, you're 100%. Inspiring. So when I'm in those darker hours, now I'm going to think, "It's okay, that last hours right around the corner." And it will be!

Thanks for sharing, and thanks for stopping by my blog and checking out the interview with Casey McCormick! She is too cool, gave such great info.

Take care!

Kay
www.kayemevans.com/blog

Jan Markley said...

good post! I love the inspirational stuff!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

It definitely is emotional. That cna be hard!

Catherine Denton said...

Maybe one hour a day I could...
Winged Writer

Regina said...

I have my moments where I believe in myself 100% because if I don't, then who will? I am also an emotional mess in my personal life, but that makes my writing a little edgier IMO. I have days where I think that I will make it and days where I know that I won't, but that is life. Thanks for your input and support. I love reading your posts. They give me inspiration that there is hope out there for people like me.

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