On Revising

Revising is so vastly important in the writing world. Unless you’re one of those (1-in-a-billion) wordsmiths where everything you pen is pure gold the first time round (of which I hate and am amazed by), you simply have to revise. There’s no going around it. As writers it’s part of our DNA to think ‘this isn’t as good as it can be’ and type it over and over again until the work quite simply… is.

With that said, though, one of the most challenging aspects of writing for me is the revision process. When I’ve invested a good amount of time in creating a chapter it’s hard for me to go back into it, even when I know it’s simply not my best.

In general, my re-writing process commences as follows:

I sit and gaze blankly at the chapter under scrutiny and stubbornly think, ‘well it’s written all ready, isn’t it?’ then go play a video game or drag a string in front of my cat for a while. After an hour or so of procrastination I yank myself back to the computer (which I’ve nicknamed the Computer of Doom for the time-being while the revision process is taking place), plop down on the chair (hard as a rock even with pillows) and mentally tie myself down with a think cord of rope that will not be untied until the dang chapter is the best if can be. I open a new word document, glance at the old one, and sluggishly begin writing as if my very soul was being sucked out with each push of the key. Usually I just write the same exact chapter, with a few words changed, and then call it a day.

Not a very effective (or pleasant) experience.

I’m not entirely sure why this process is so hard for me to accomplish. I know it’s a huge part of writing effectively, and yet, every time I have to do it, my mind revolts and a stubborn streak I rarely show takes over.

However…

I’ve recently got a chapter reviewed and have a pretty rough revision ahead of me. Essentially I have to re-write the entire thing. But, in an attempt to stave off the soul-sucking, I’ve devised a new plan for tackling the process…

Step 1: review the comments made my fellow writers
Step 2: write down my new ideas next to the comments of my fellow writers
Step 3: grab a cup of herbal or black tea
Step 4: sit down (calmly) in front of my computer (no nicknames present)
Step 5: open up a new document
Step 6: look at my new ideas and figure out a way to include them into my chapter
Step 7: write the chapter, making sure I don’t just type the same chapter over again by 
            constantly glancing at the old one, and yet keeping the likable elements too
Step 8: send it out (again) and see what my fellow writers think (thereby forcing me to 
             actually re-write the thing and not merely change a few words)

I hope this process will work, but if it should fail, I’d like to have some back-up ideas so I don’t spiral into my soul-sucking again. Tell me, what does your revision process look like?

Warm regards,
Kellie

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6 thoughts on “On Revising

  1. since wordpress introduced you to me, i’ve seen your talent grow; your skill improves with each new post. whatever it is that you’re doing to foster your talent, be it revising, procrastinating, or dragging a string in front of the cat, it’s working! keep it up, grrrl….

    • Why thank-you very much, good sir! Your comment and kind remarks are both greatly appreciated. Between you and me, though, I think it’s dragging a string in front of a cat is really the ticket. That’s right, I’ve alluded to it, every successful writer should own a cat… and drag a string in front of it. Or, if certain allergies or misconceptions bar them from such joy, one such writer should at least take a jaunt down a local shelter or store and do it there. =)

  2. It is the hardest part of writing for me. I try to re-read what I’ve written and the structure of the chapter and what I think needs to be changed. Sometimes it might just be a few sentences or it might be whole sections. Highlighter out (on screen) and go through every word. Does it work, does it sound right, does it fit etc. The cat and string does sound good though …

    • Thank-you for the comment, Pete! Ooo, working with a highlighter is a good idea, I’ve not done that with my work before. (Though I am partial to playing with my cat, haha!) What sort of genre do you write in?

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