“Trust the process” is a slogan used by fans of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, though it has since become popular elsewhere in sports and culture. Coined during a rough patch for the team, it basically means “things may look bad now, but we have a plan in place to make it better.” – The Urban Dictionary
So yeah, the Sixers looked bad last night, but this isn’t about basketball.
Writers have rough patches, too. Maybe your work in progress is stalled. A project that started out with great potential fizzled the further you got into it. Perhaps you wrote your plot into a an unfixable mess and have to trash the whole thing and start over. You know what? This is the process. Working through all of the ups and downs, the mistakes and the disasters only makes you a better writer on the other side of it. That is of course, if you stick with it and trust the process.
The other day, a friend of mine who has been reading through all the Bucks County Novels sent me an email. In it he praised the first three books, loved them, in fact. But when he got to the fourth book: Tainted Inheritance, he noticed a change. Sloppy editing, spelling and grammar errors, a plot that dragged. He actually said he was thinking: “C’mon, wrap this up, Meg.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right.
Tainted Inheritance is my NaNoWriMo book. It’s the primary reason I will never, ever write like that again. I was so tired by the end of that marathon of writing that I avoided revision and neglected to have it professionally edited. And the result is a substandard novel. Now to be clear, I do think the overall story is good, great even. I just need to clean it up and pass it along to my man Kevin for editing. But the fact is, I do not have hurt feelings or wounded pride at the critique of my friend and fellow writer. Why?
There are differences between having a reader not like your book because it just isn’t their taste and having them not like it because it was badly written. I am not going to rewrite my story to satisfy someone else’s taste. However, if a reader genuinely points out an inconsistency, a flaw with the concept or some other sort of error, I am more than willing to accept the criticism and revise accordingly or apply the advice to the next project. I try my best to learn from the experience. And ignore the people who are just negative because they are mean.
This is one of those cases where the reader gets it. Valuable criticism and feedback are gold for a writer. It only makes us better if we listen and apply. Trust the process. It always works.