It’s hard to convince yourself that it’s time to send your manuscript out.
Beyond the checklist of making sure you’ve done all the tasks associated with your writing, there is the matter of “feeling” as if you’re done.
This feeling can be elusive. You’ll always think there is one more sentence you can rewrite, one more piece of literature to cite, etc before you can actually be done.
This sense of being done isn’t about the technical aspects of your work so much as it’s about the emotional labor that you put into your work. After putting a lot of effort into a manuscript, it can be anxiety-inducing to think that some reader or reviewer will judge it harshly.
Here are three reasons that might drive you to get something off your desk:
- You can just be sick of your work, and want to be done with it.
- You’ve met a non-negotiable deadline and you have to send off your manuscript.
- You feel satisfied that your work is complete, and no further revisions are necessary.
Or you can be fearful of feedback and therefore hesitant to put your work in front of readers.
But when do you feel the sense of satisfaction that something you are writing is ready to be sent out for review? That its good and you’ve done everything you can. Is that a feeling that comes often? Why or why not?
Is that a feeling you can cultivate? Perhaps. Here are some ideas.
Be transparent about your progress. Acknowledge how many times you’ve revised. This can be as simple as naming your document version 1, version 2, etc. At the point you find yourself revising the same sections over and over, ask yourself if your new revisions are substantive or cosmetic.
Do not be afraid to ask colleagues and friends to read early drafts. Even if you know it’s not complete, having someone else read your work can help you better identify what still needs to be improved before it can be done. The struggle in moving from semi-finished draft to finished manuscript is determining what improvements need to be made to transition from one stage to the next.
Recognize that “done” and “perfect” are not the same.
Understand that not everyone is going to love your work – and that’s OK. As a wise coach once told me, “you’re not for everyone.” That’s true for all of us. People will dislike your work, for reasons but justifiable and unjustifiable. The degree to which they like or dislike your work is rarely correlated to how long you waited to submit it.
Generally, it seems that academia is deadline driven, even though many writers tend to shirk deadlines. We rarely submit our work before its due. Ask yourself, what is the last manuscript you submitted in advance of a deadline?