I love watching DIY home-improvement shows. Watching someone demo a wall or grout tile or reorganize a closet is Madeline catnip. In my free time I rearrange my furniture, wallpaper the odd wall, and reorganize my own closets for fun. (I have an odd idea of fun.)
However, there comes a point in every DIY project where occasionally I have to accept that the project I have taken on has gone beyond anything I can do on my own. It’s time to call in the professionals.
Writing can turn into that same kind of seemingly endless DIY project. Sometimes the project simply becomes too big, the edits too confusing, the revision too overwhelming to go it alone.
When that happens, there’s no shame in asking for help!
When you’ve gone as far as you can alone, it’s time to reach out to the professionals:
Your Critique Group—These people may not be paid readers, but they know writing, and more importantly, they know YOUR writing.
Freelance Editors—These people know their stuff. On average, these are people who have been working in publishing and editing for many, many years. They’ve edited countless manuscripts. They’ve seen it all. They can help you out of the writing hole you’ve dug yourself. Depending on where your manuscript is at and how your writing has gotten stuck, you’ll probably want some kind of editorial analysis or developmental edit. Most editors charge by the word, so be prepared if you’ve written an epic 150,000 word YA fantasy that the price is going to be higher than a 10,000 word chapter book.
Mentors—These can be either paid or unpaid mentors who look at your work and provide constructive feedback. This might be an established author in the field that reads through your work in between their own deadlines. Or this could be a group or individual mentor you pay to give your manuscript the sort of attention you would get from an involved MFA thesis advisor.
The 1on1 mentorships I provide involve everything from writing lessons for newer authors to full developmental edits and revision planning assistance. For my self-publishing mentorships, I do all the editorial mentoring in addition to helping authors with some of the book production tasks required to get the book published. It’s a comprehensive and extensive mentorship that covers more than just the basics. (And yes, that was an absolutely shameless plug for my mentorship services because you should know that they exist in case you need them.)
Writing does not have to be you and your laptop, stuck in solitary with DIY. If you’re stuck, ask for help. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing and able to help.