Rhoddi asked Ann Leckie:

While writing Ancillary Justice, did you learn anything new concerning the writing process?

Ann Leckie I learned a lot of things, actually, but most of them are difficult to articulate.

The one, very important thing that I learned, that I can articulate, is that it's important to trust yourself. I mean, when you have first readers who have criticisms, yes, do listen to them, don't be so sure of your work that you don't think it could use improvement. But in the end, you decide what goes on the page (or not) and how, you decide how to take that advice.

And a lot of general advice warns against particular kinds of writing, or particular topics or kinds of plots or characters. I've seen aspiring writers--and sometimes published writers--claim that, for instance, one shouldn't write in first person, or that omniscient is only for really advanced writers and otherwise you should leave it alone, or editors don't want particular sorts of protagonists, or ...really, the list is a long one. But in the end, editors and readers are mysterious and unpredictable. So, I'd say, don't worry so much about whether editors will like your stuff. Worry about whether it's as awesome as you can make it. If you feel your story needs X, and someone (maybe lots of someones) is telling you that X is against some rule or will never sell, well, it's your work. Be open to the possibility that you're mistaken, but in the end, the choice is yours. Trust yourself.

Related to that, trust the process. Sometimes things are difficult to do because it's a bad idea to do them. I've learned that if I get really upset and stressed out about the work, I've probably done something wrong, and I should back up and figure out where I went off the rails. Or take a day and think about it. Similarly, sometimes I just need to read and recharge, and there's no point being down on myself because I'm not producing words those days. Those times are part of the process (assuming they don't stretch into months and years, of course!). Trust the process.
Ann Leckie

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