Toughest. Question. Ever. Well, in the world of writing, anyway.
I know authors who spend entire years of their lives just on the editing of a book. They’ve written it and they actually like it. But it takes them years to make it READY. I know other authors (the kind a really want to punch in the kidney) who can sit at a computer, stare off into space for an hour, then put down on paper the most amazing writing. They skim through it a couple of times, add a comma, then it’s finished and READY to go.
How will you know when your work is READY? That’s going to depend entirely on why you wrote. Did you write it for a class assignment and you’re hoping for a B? You can probably write that bad boy on the school bus that morning. Are you submitting it to a magazine that publishes short stories? Plan to spend months looking it over. Is this a book that you’re hoping to publish? Could be weeks, could be years, depending on you as a writer.
One thing that I cannot stress enough is that no piece of writing is ever truly READY until your beta readers have loved it (those are the people who are supposed to read your story with a very critical eye…note, Not your mom), until you have had it edited by someone who knows what he’s doing, and until you can read it without scrunching your eyebrows together.
As for being READY, it’s only ready when you know for certain that it is the best you can make it be because you put your best into it.