Monday, January 12, 2015

Revising Reluctance

Revising….the great big hurdle that I just cannot seem to get over no matter how much I prepare for it. I could have all my colored pens right beside me, my manuscript printed out, and I could even make it as far as reading it through and making an outline of what I have, but there’s just something about revising that always stops me. It’s like a large red stop sign in the middle of the road that decided to jump out of nowhere. But since stop signs can’t exactly jump, let’s change that to deer. A deer that jumped out of nowhere so that you have to slam the breaks on. 

I’ve tried a lot to get past the my reluctance for revising. Especially after I read that the “best writers are those that revise…a lot”. Not only was it that idea that spurred me forward to really tackle this path to become published, but it’s also what holds me back in a way. 

What if I’m not good enough after revising? What if no agent wants to take my manuscript in so that it’s left cold and alone with only me for company—let’s be honest, I’m not the best company.

I wish I was one of those writers/authors that love revising or at least look forward to. I just dread it. I love the idea of revising. Who doesn’t? I’m going to change this and this and this and this and my manuscript is going to be so much better. 

But in order to actually revise, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You need to make the tough decisions to “kill your darlings”. You might decide to scrap the entire novel and just start from ground zero (or ground naught…haha I’m so funny [not really, I know I’m not that funny]). It’s not even those things that stop me. 

I’m a perfectionist. It’s a trait that I love and hate at the same time. It’s inevitably my fatal flaw. But my perfectionism never rears its head when I’m writing. It’s so easy to lose myself in writing the next word, imagining my novel playing before my eyes, surprising myself as I write. There’s no room for my perfectionist to protest. Writing is bliss. 

Revising is an entirely different story. Revising requires my perfectionism and it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. I mean look at what you produced—you have a whooping 100k words that you have to get through. You have to worry about plot, characters, dialogue, foreshadowing, symbols, etc. I just want to crawl into a ball typing it out. 

I’ve tried a lot of different things—advice from authors, countless articles about revising, a couple of craft books about revising and writing in general. That was more than a few months ago (before school started actually). Now here I am in the first week of my last semester at school with a burning ache to start revising—a feeling I’ve never really had. Oddly enough, this burning passion to revise was after I had an epiphany as I was walking back from class (it’s one of the best times to think about all the ideas swimming around my head). 

Basically it amounts to this—I need to revise on my own terms.

I don’t have to follow a method to revise in order to succeed. I can create my own method. Frankly, I might not even need my own method. I mean that’s how I started writing—without a clue where it was going except for a single protagonist that consumed my mind. 

I realized that a revising method might work for others, but not necessarily for me. And so as I write this post, well, I’m really ready to start revising again. And the only thing I have to arm me is one statement: revising is where true writing happens. 

I just need to revise.

And when I inevitably start to dread revising I’m going to try repeating one simple fact in my head. Revising will make my story better and it deserves to grow and improve as I learn to do the same. 

Anyone else have trouble with revising? Any helpful hints or tips to help me? Comment below! 

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