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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Give Yourself Permission to Cross the Finish Line

Some weeks, it just seems like people are telling you to stop. Don’t bother working on that particular manuscript. No, really. No one ever sells in that genre until they have a track record someplace else. 

Don’t finish that query letter. Agents and editors are super slow to respond right now. It’s the pandemic. No one is sure what is going to sell or what to bring to print. That agent may not even be accepting queries by the time you finish. 



My advice to you? Don’t stop working on your manuscript. Don’t stop working on your query. Stop discouraging yourself.  It is time to cross the finish line. 

Earlier this week, I was trying to get back into a fiction project. My plot hinges on a pandemic. It actually isn’t vital that there be a pandemic but my characters have to be forced to abandon their planet and journey into space. What if agents and editors don’t want anything more to do with a pandemic? Maybe it should be about food shortages, energy or water? Maybe a corrupt government is poisoning. . . 

“Mom!” I wasn’t discussing my plot with a fellow publishing professional but the Boy. The Boy is 22 and an engineering student. He’s my sounding board for all things technical like logistics and space travel and physics. (Un)fortunately, he comes with a full stack of opinions. 

“Mom, you already know how to plot it out with a pandemic, right? So write the book with a pandemic. You can always swap it out for a new disaster later on. But you can’t rewrite it until you write it.” Like I said, he is a person of many opinions. Irritatingly enough, in this case, he was also right. 

Far too often, we talk ourselves out of finishing whatever it is that we’re writing. The reasons that we come to a halt are many, but may include: 
  • Hearing about a manuscript that sounds all too like the one you are writing. 
  • Being told that this market particular market you are writing in is oversaturated.
  • Reading that unpublished writers cannot break into the genre or format that encompasses your manuscript. 
  • Learning that your top publisher has closed to all but agented manuscripts. 
And all of these things may be true. But you can’t sell your work if you don’t finish your pitch, your query, or your manuscript. 

That’s right. First you have to finish. So give yourself permission to write until you reach The End. There may be people telling you to stop, but who are you going to listen to? The nay-sayers or the people telling you to write? 

If you’re a writer, I think we both know which one it needs to be. See you at the finish line. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on August 2, 2021).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.
Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins August 2, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  August 2, 2021). 


  1. Sue--What a wise one The Boy is. He's right. We can't revise blank pages.

    I can't wait to read that FINISHED manuscript of yours.

  2. Sioux,
    It is amazing how much he has learned living with a writer! But you had better not tell him that he writes. "No, I don't. I just make up gaming modules." Oh, adventures with plots and possibilities. Gotcha.

    Hmm. I guess I had better get to work...

  3. SueBE ~ This is awesome! The Boy is right, and it's so cool you have a sounding board for all things technical. :)

    I've heard the same advice about the pandemic, but I see journals publishing work that hinges on a pandemic plot line all the time. As writers, we know everything has been done before, so to keep it fresh, we just need to write in our unique voice and perspective.

    I talk myself out of finishing so many projects! I think I need a writing coach or someone like The Boy to crack the whip. Lol. Thank you for this post. :)

  4. Angela,
    Hmm. Maybe we should work out a fee structure. One hour of coaching with The Boy, etc. Of course, given how he feels about team sports, we might want to call it something other than coaching!

  5. We can't let the naysayers and negative Nellie's keep us from the finish line. Sometimes they look like other people, and sometimes they look like us. We will never know unless we finish.

  6. He's a Keeper, the Boy. With me, it's Darling Daughter...full of opinions and annoyingly right more often than not. :-)

    All perfectly good reasons to quit, by the way. Reasons I have, in fact, used. But of course, you're right. Or the Boy is right. Whatever. :-)

  7. Theresa,
    So true - we can be our own biggest problems. Onward!

    Just find a reason to write, right? Glad to hear you have your own cheerleader.


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