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Monday, January 11, 2010

Smiling Through It All

As I mentioned last week, one of my goals for 2010 is to finish the rewrites, revisions, and edits for my current manuscript. I've been working on this for quite some time, and I will admit that I have many moments of doubt and even more instances of pure panic. I think it's safe to say that we all love writing. Otherwise, we wouldn't be doing it, right? There is something exhilarating about getting an idea for a new story. There is something satisfying about turning the first sentence into a paragraph, the first paragraph into a chapter, and, finally, the first chapter into a novel. There is something indescribable about watching your little spark of an idea evolve into words and characters that you can lose yourself in. But, how do we keep that same enthusiasm when the real work starts? How do we stay motivated when we have to push up our sleeves and dive into the not-so-fun revision process? This is what I want to talk about this week. I'll share what I do, and I hope you will share what you do. So, what about you? Does the revision process bring you down a notch or two? If you haven't hit that stage, does it scare the living daylights out of you? I know it did me.

52 comments:

Rebecca L Sutton said...

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on revisions. I've pretty much been doing revisions for half a year so there's not one line that hasn't been changed in some way. Hopefully improved! As much as I love the way it's changed my story and helped me grow as a writer...I'm not a big fan of revisions. It's the whole going over the same thing again and again that gets to me. I feel like I lose my fresh eye at some point, but the bright side is knowing that the new stuff I write is going to be better thanks to all that work. ; )

Danyelle said...

I love writing and loathe revisions--mostly because I'm wading intensely through words I've already visited before when I wrote them. But I do love that feeling after everything is polished.

Because I need to write new words, I have a system. I'm usually revising one novel, letting one rest, and working on a new one at the same time. It helps that they are all at different stages, so I get to do a bit of everything every day. :)

Anissa said...

For me, revision is slow and tedious. I can't really accomplish anything unless I have large chunks of time to really dig in. And these days finding those chunks is virtually impossible.

I do enjoy seeing the WIP improve though. So that's something.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Um...okay, you're scaring me! I'm at the mid-point in my own first draft and right now I'm just grateful I made a rough outline or else I'd REALLY be floundering.

If I attain my goal, er, I mean WHEN I attain my goal of finishing this draft by the end of April, I will be "walking in your shoes." ;o) I'll be most interested to hear what other writer respond to your question!

Terri Tiffany said...

I love love the revision part cause I know the bulk of the book is written:) It's the writing of the whole book that is slowing me down:)

Julie said...

Yes! and Yes! I'm so excited you and I are in the same place right now with similar goals. I've been reading tons of blogs lately and it seems most are trying to get words down.

I'm trying not to start anything new. We need to cheer each other on!

What I've found is I can't spend as long on revisions as I can writing that first draft. I've been limiting myself to 2 chapters per day (one is okay also). If i try more than that, I just get sloppy or less willing to make the more difficult change.

I also have more time for critique, so if you need someone to exchange those frustrating chapters with, I'm willing.

It seems to help with my process to look at other writer's work.

Jenna said...

I'm kind of a check list gal. I love making a list and love checking the things off more. What I did with one of my stories is read it through and jot down items that I needed to fix. I came up with a list of about twelve things. After that I went down my list fixing the problems.

Check, check, check.

It worked well for me.

I have alpha and beta readers go over my story as well. I looked over their suggested changes and crossed off the ones I didn't agree with - fixed and checked the ones I did.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

If I didn't love these characters, they'd kill me in these rewrites.
~ Wendy

Michelle Gregory said...

i'm with Danyelle... working on a 2nd or 3rd draft while working on a first draft. since i'm not under any kind of contract or deadline, i usually write short stories for myself rather than work on full novels.

i **love** first drafts because my mind can play and i don't have to worry about plot holes or world building or anything like that. it's like brain candy for me. what keeps me going on the revisions is knowing that i want to finish, but at the same time, they make me want to tear my hair out.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey! I like the revising, actually. I usually do it on paper, while reading my novel as a book. That's fun. What I hate are typing in the changes afterwards. Not fun! But my brain does not work when I'm reading a screen. I have to have paper.

Bethany Mattingly said...

I just finished my revisions this morning at 2AM!! Motivating myself to do it was really hard for the first six months after I finished writing the 3rd draft. Then, something just clicked around November and I began revising and found I liked it. I think the difference was, the first two times I revised my MS, I knew I would have to begin again because it wasn't good. This time, well, I'm much happier with it. I can't wait to hear how you do it this week :)

Patti said...

I find I need to set it aside for awhile after I do a set of revisions and work on something else.

Megan Petty said...

I haven't hit the revision stage yet. I'm almost to the halfway point in my first draft and I'm finding that the more I write, the more scared I get. Scared that it's no good. I've been reading other writers' work at Absolute Write and while I'm reading their work I think, What the hell am I doing? My story sucks compared to some of these (although I have read a few things that made mine look great).

I'm trying to just concentrate on getting to the end, whether what I'm writing is good or bad and then at that point when I start on the second draft I'm hoping my opinion about my own work will change. Also, I think it will help to have other people read my work when my first draft is complete so maybe someone can say, "Hey, there's some potential here," and be honest about it.

It is awful scary though. I can't imagine what the revision process will be like.

laurel said...

I just got back a very detailed crit on some chapters from a published writer and at first felt completely flummoxed by it. I had to go over everything a second time with my hubby by my side. He's just awesome at helping me discern which comments are helpful and which ones are completely off the mark. I'd say having someone in your corner who knows your story well and knows what you want to achieve is essential for revising. To be able to go back again and again and bounce ideas and get support makes the process a lot less painful.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for your faithful posts, as well as being such a faithful reader of mine! I truly appreciate your input!

And yes, I think it is easy to slip down into despair with our writing. Somedays it truly is two steps forward, one step back. But as I said in my post today, I don't want to waste my creative energy complaining. I want to put my head down and plow forward, stumbles and all!

Stephanie Thornton said...

I like the revision stage more than I like the first draft. The first draft is a hard slog for me, always wondering if my characters are doing the right thing or not. And as I write, I know it's going to need a slew of revisions. I hate knowing I'm writing garbage, but every book has to start somewhere!

Kristi Faith said...

I'm knee deep in the revisions/rewrites/edits and re-edits of my nano project right now. Wow, I'm learning a lot, and I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed. But I keep telling myself to take it one step at a time. :)

Paul Greci said...

I like both the first draft phase and the revision phase but in both of them I experience the range of emotions from excitement, this is great, to what am I doing, this is horrible. I tell myself it's all just a normal range of emotions, and to keep writing. I'm looking forward to hearing about your revision process.

JenE said...

I hope to start revisions in a couple of weeks, and I CAN'T WAIT! I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, as it's a big mess right now.
I'm looking forward to seeing how you tackle the process.

Julie Dao said...

I love the revision stage, but at some point I always momentarily lose my zeal for the story. It's tough to self-motivate sometimes but we're writers and that's what we have to do!

Janna Qualman said...

For me, it's the midway to two-thirds way through that bogs me down. I'd take advice on how to pull myself up!

jbchicoine said...

I’ve been doing revisions for so long that I scarcely remember what it feels like to just sit and write…

Robyn Campbell said...

Revisions are the pain in my derriere. OUCH! :-)

But they must be done. *she stamps her feet* I love the writing part. The first draft part. The CREATING PART. :-)

Super post Susan. When revising, I keep my eyes on the prize and that gets me through.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Not a fan of revisions at the moment. I have plot problems and I've wasted too much time jumping around. I'm now attempting a more systematic approach.

Amy Tate said...

I think it's a good thing to have other stuff going on with the writing. If writing was all that I did, I'd burn out. Writing is a reflection of life, so in order to write I have to live. When the revisions get to me, I do something else for a bit.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

It brings me down a story or two for sure. But it's a necessary evil that seems to drag on for way too long in my world.

Kathy said...

I'll be honest and tell you I don't like revising at all.

But one way I get around that is I do some revising as I'm writing. I just have to fix something if it doesn't sound right.

Cindy said...

The revision process used to scare me, but more, I didn't take it as seriously as I should have. This is our biggest and best chance to make our manuscript as polished and perfect as we can. I think it's important to find a revision process that works for you so that you don't dread it but look forward to it.

Carolyn V. said...

It depends on my mood. Sometimes I love the revisions, other times. Hate it.

Dara said...

It most certainly scares the living daylights out of me. Especially when I realize how much has changed over the course of the first draft and how much research and work I've yet to go.

Lily Robinson said...

I'm at that naive stage where I'm sure I'll enjoy the editing as one step closer to getting there. Like the new parents already knowing the baby's cries... LOL

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I actually enjoy the revision process. It's the rough draft phrase that makes my throat close up. Once words are on the page (even crappy ones) I feel better.

Karen said...

I've been in the revision stage for over a year now...so I can't wait to see some of the suggestions for working through it.

Kimberly Franklin said...

If I could just stop revising long enough to actually get my WIP written, I think I might be okay. : )

Good luck! I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I like to see the quality that arrives from revision. How tweaking a word here or there, strengthening a verb, or adding some tension can make something work much better. Still, my problem is butt in chair. Although, my butt is often in the chair, what I want work on seldom comes up on the page. Oh, well.

Tamika: said...

It could be that I am still too wet behind the ears, but I'm looking forward to revising. Getting the story down on paper seems to be killing me!

Having the chance to go over it again in whole form will be refreshing, I think. Learning how to let my characters blossom, create a better pace for the story, timing, and voice.

Dominique said...

I just finished the first draft and can't wait to start revisions. I know that when the revisions become hard, I'll want to put them away. I'll just have to try hard to remember how much I loved it all at the start and not let myself get too worked up and tense.

I have found that when revision gets at you, it's good to stop for a while. After a while, everything seems like it's terrible. You need to give yourself time for the perspective to return.

Jamie D. said...

I'd written several drafts before I finally decided to revise one. I started doing that in December, and soon felt like I was in over my head. Very scary prospect, my draft!

So I decided to take an online course to learn *how* to revise, and am much more calm about the whole thing now. I'd even go so far as to say I'm optimistic about it.

I'll be interested to see your process, and how you approach your revisions. :-)

Tabitha Bird said...

I find the revision process hard to say the least. For me it is where my ability as a writer hits the road and I must see how far i can go. In the rough draft you can have all the fun without worrying about refining the work. And then comes the edit. For me it comes with a good dose of panic too!

All the best with your edits this year. This is one of my goals too.

Cassandra Frear said...

Having the ability to endure the writing process, day in and day out, year in and year out, worries me a great deal.

Bane of Anubis said...

I'm constantly revising, and thus constantly down to an extent. There's not much thrill except when I'm finished, and even then it's short-lived.

Heather Sunseri said...

OH, yes, Susan. I think the editing process is very difficult, but part of the journey. I have good days and bad ones, but most of my bad ones center around not having enough time.

sherrinda said...

I thought I would love the revision process, but I am finding it difficult. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing...what to look for. I joined a crit group and that helps, but still...it's HARD.

Erica said...

Yeah I'm there with ya. One of my goals is to finish my MS as well... I'm just starting the revision process. I don't mind it, but it is harrowing to look at all those words and try to make it "pretty." I have to say, I've done some of my best writing in the revision process, so far...

I look forward to hearing what you think of it all :o)

B.J. Anderson said...

Actually, I thrive on revisions and rewrites. I really love them, and that probably makes me weird, lol. :D Good luck with them!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I panic at the start of revisions, but then as I get into the story and find more connections and surprises I fall in love with it all over again.

Anna C. Morrison said...

I think revision is fun. I don't have to think of things from scratch anymore. I can just play with the puzzle of words in front of me.

Girl in My Own World said...

Awww, those shoes are awesome!!! Love them!!! They would make me happy! Anyhow, yes, I hate revising most anything. It is annoying and tedious and can seem never ending. Honestly, when I just wing it and not analyze it to death people will really like or love it and I am like "really?" I wrote that off the top of my head. Perhaps there is a such thing as too much revising and overthinking. I mean, I know we want it to be perfect and it should be up to par, but I just don't like analyzing it to death. I don't know. I cannot wait for your book to come out. I am going to tell everyone that I knew you when... Don't panic though. I try not too. I mean, I know that I am no where near as far as you, but if they are going to like it then they will. Remember - whatever is meant is meant. I am sure that they will LOVE you! There is a home for your novel somewhere! :o)

Also, in scrolling though some of the comments, I also agree that revision does make you fall in love with the story again. Often times I reread things and am like. "Hey this is really good!!!"

Brigitte said...

Guess I'll have to see when I get there~
Thanks for the following (:

xoxox

Jennifer Shirk said...

I LOVE revisions!!! It's getting those first words on the page that is like drawing blood. LOL

Veronica Barton-Dean said...

My head is so full of ideas that often times I do feel like the revisions pull me down. But if we want to end up landing among those that get published we can't do that! I'm with you girl after my current project, revision is the name of the year!

sanjeet said...

I feel like I lose my fresh eye at some point

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