Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Motivation - on revision

"By your third draft, the main plotline and subplots ought to be clear. If your novel at that point is still muddy and changing enormously from draft to draft, then it's time to stop exploring the story and start looking into yourself. What matters? Who counts the most? What in the story frightens you into avoidance? What is the most essential thing your readers most need to see and understand?" ~ Donald Maass, THE BREAKOUT NOVELIST

I have a big revision ahead of me. I've been turning plot lines and character traits over and over in my head for a month.

It's time to sit down, tear it apart, and then put it back together again. I have a love/hate relationship with revision. I love it because it challenges me. I hate it because it challenges me.

I have a talk I've given to writers at conferences on revision. In it I say, the real writing happens in the rewriting. And it's true. So why are we so scared sometimes to get started?

For me, when I'm deleting old scenes and writing new ones, I'm often scared I'm making the book worse instead of better. And it's so messy - all that deleting and moving things around. When I'm drafting a book, it's not hard to get up and walk away. But when I'm revising? I *hate* getting up and walking away. I feel like I'm leaving behind this huge mess, which I am in a way, and I can't stand messes.

It's painful. It's hard. It's messy. But it's necessary.

Today, I begin. The only way out is through! In the coming weeks, my plan is simple:

Keep up my exercise
Set a time to be done every day, before dinner, and stick to it.
Eat well
Take a short break every hour - get up and walk around outside
Free write in another document if necessary and don't feel bad about it
Remember I've done this before and every time, the book has become so much better

How do you psyche yourself up for a big revision?


  1. Go, Lisa!

    It's the first draft I have to psyche myself up for. They terrify me.

  2. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
    Winston Churchill

    Great Quotes

  3. I actually like revision more than the first draft (or two...or three...) because that *is* where the real writing happens. And where I get to explore the little world I've built.

    With first drafts, I like to plow my way through and ratchet up that word count. With revisions, I've realized I need to take breaks between sessions, and leave some time to consider the changes before I move on. Otherwise, I end up wanting to change just about everything every time I look at the dang ms.