Friday, September 18, 2009

The Revision Zone

I've learned many things about my writing process since I began seriously persuing publication. I've learned that I can - for the most part -write anywhere, any time with any number of distractions. I write my first draft long-hand because it prevents me from going into editing mode. I can write on the subway for a half-hour, in a waiting room, at baseball and figure skating practices - but only if the arena has a heated lounge!Which means I can only write at one particular arena my daughter attends. For some reason my sons hockey arenas do not have this wonderful perk. Hence no writing is done while at hockey practices :).

I can write late in the evening, on lunch hours, in front of the TV (although less and less lately since I only ever watch my very favourite TV shows). I am definitely not an early morning writer. I edit first, second and third drafts on the computer. I print out and edit them on paper too - in any variety of coloured pens. I have become very flexible in how I achieve the drafts that I send to my CP and my agent. I have had to be given my hectic lifestyle.

But one thing I've discovered is that I am not flexible about how I do my revisions. Once I get those comments in - if they resonate with me and involve another tackle at the manuscript that is more than just a quick pass over for grammar and tightening up - I need a long, solid stretch of time to fully immerse myself in the book and the revisions. I need to consider what the revisions are doing or going to do to the rest of the story. Are any changes I make consistent with the established themes, will the changes alter motivations? Is that new scene I'm adding written in the same tone as what's gone before? And if I haven't looked at the book for a few weeks I need to read through it again so that any additional layering in of character thoughts or actions provide a build up to what will eventually happen at the end of the story. Since the book is now complete it is more important than ever to ensure that what I layer or thread through the plot and character motivations at the beginning of the story match with whatever happens at the end. If I'm deleting scenes, or descriptions or other information am I leaving plot holes? If I'm adding scenes, descriptions or other information am I killing the pace? Because there are so many questions and because there are so many potential pit falls when doing revisions, I prefer to immerse myself completely in them. No snatches of time like when I do the first few drafts. I need to be in the Zone. And to be in the Zone I need a long, solid stretch of time. Which brings me to my current problem: I don't have that this month!

I did about three quarters of those revisions to the WIP back at the end of August/early September when I was on vacation. But now, with school starting, back to work, and hockey season starting I'm back to my snatches of time. Which, if I was working on a first draft would be perfectly fine. But I'm not. So, not sure when I'll be in the Zone again but I can't wait too much longer - because if I do I'll forget what I was doing revision-wise a few weeks ago and have to start from scratch.

I don't know about you but I find revisions way harder than first drafts sometimes. Maybe because I know that finishing touches need a concentrated, steady hand - with nothing rushed about them.


  1. I'm the same way. I love writing the first/fast draft. It's fun. It's nuttin' but me and my creativity. Bad sentences, plot holes . . . no worries. I get to plunk it out and let 'er rip!

    Revisions mean business. So much more pressure.

    Good luck w/ your revisions!

  2. Thanks, C.R. It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling with the R word!