How to Take Your Writing to the Next Level

Why I haven’t sung solo on stage in thirty years, and the lesson you need to apply to your writing in order to take it to the next level.

Boy with eyes closed and wide open mouth sings into a microphone
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

When I was at school, I loved to sing on stage until one fateful rehearsal, when someone destroyed my confidence.

They didn’t tell me I was wrong

They cast me as a priest in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I didn’t really want that role. I wanted to be Jesus, Judas, Peter, or any of the disciples, but at least I was part of the production, and that was enough.

Rehearsing made me happy.

Until one rehearsal when a teacher popped her head round the door and said I wasn’t singing the right notes. I turned to the musical director for support, but he just shrugged and said,

“Yeah, but he sounds kind of menacing, and that fits the part.”

My confidence collapsed at that moment. Everyone knew I couldn’t sing, and they’d all been laughing at me, and no-one had told me.

I was mad. Why didn’t you tell me that the notes weren’t perfect? You could have shown me the right notes. Why didn’t you make me practice until I could sing them correctly?

I love singing, and I made it through the production, but that moment stayed with me. From then on I sang in the chorus where I could tune in to the others and not stand out.

Is this related to writing?

You open yourself up to the same vulnerability that comes from singing solo on stage when you share a piece of writing.

What will people think?

Will they tell me their honest thoughts or what they think I want to hear? This is the key. Maybe they’ll say they love it. Maybe they’ll say they hate it. Can I trust what they are telling me?

Will their feedback be honest?

My current role

My enthusiasm for theatre survived. I was in the light entertainment society at university and joined an amateur musical theatre group when I started work.

I have acted on stage every year of my life, but never again sung solo.

In September, I auditioned for our local theatre’s production of The Vicar of Dibley. I was enthusiastic. When the director asked me which part I was trying out for, I said,

‘All of them.’

Although I didn’t get a main part, the director asked me if I would be a chorister. I’m loving it. I am part of the production and it is fun and stress free.

Except I have to sing a solo at one point.

It’s my fault. In rehearsal we were singing a hymn that I recognised from my youth and I could just hear my late dad belting it out, like he used to every Sunday in church. So I belted it out, channelling him. And now I get to sing it solo.

But it is okay. Because people I trust have told me I sing it fine. Not perfectly. They have given me ways to improve, but I’ve applied their advice and I know it is good enough.

What is honest feedback worth?

In my role as a book coach, I will tell you the truth about your writing in a supportive, encouraging way. I include actionable advice that you will help you improve.

What is that worth to you?

Maybe you don’t know right now. So I am offering you the chance to get feedback on the first five pages of your novel without an upfront payment. After you get the feedback, I will ask you to pay what you think it is worth. You pay based on the value of the feedback.

You can accept this offer here.

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