Saturday, August 2, 2014

Revising Every Day: the Struggle in Starting

As mentioned in this post on my writing process, I've written 15 books during the 20 years I've lived so far, and approximately 8 of them seem salvageable. More than salvageable, some of them seem good.

This begs the question, “Why haven’t I tried to query yet?”

In the afore-linked-to post, I gave the short answer to this:
I have the horrible (yet still productive) habit of leaping on to the next idea, diving back into the drafting phases with either new stories or complete rewrites of the old.

The long answer is something I’ve grown more and more aware of in the last week or so as I try to revise the project known on Twitter as FairyPrisonBook.

I can write every day (usually).

I can do NaNoWriMo.

As I’ve recently discovered, I can write a book in a week.

But revising every day? Super hard for me. Even if I see a bunch of problems and have ideas how to fix them, even when I’m just reading through the draft to look for more problems and solutions.
Something about the revision process—maybe just the yawning, vacuous space of everything that needs to be done and the impossibility of gauging whether I’ve made things better or worse—makes me lag.

And once I’ve skipped one day, it’s too easy to settle into a rhythm of procrastination, doing everything except revisions. It’s too easy to poke at a few words and settle back like that’s enough for the day, the rest can wait for tomorrow, or maybe the next day, or next Monday for sure if I have time.

And then NaNo is around the corner or a Shiny New Idea carves itself into my gray matter, and next thing I know, I’m 10k into a new draft while whatever I’d been revising collects dust.

By the time I get back to that dusty old draft, it seems just as easy to do a full rewrite.

And then I’m back where I started, with essentially another rough draft, nowhere near ready for querying.

I tweeted about this recently, how hard it was to make myself sit down to revisions....

...before I stayed up until 4 am revising because it was going so well, I had so many ideas, I didn’t want to stop.

So it’s not that I can’t have fun revising, though it’s by no means always a walk in the park.

The struggle is in starting.

In sitting down, every day, and remembering that “every day” rule doesn’t just apply to drafting, but to poking  around, rereading, and tweaking the same paragraphs over and over again

*and in not writing blog posts to put off that poking around, shhhh*
Anyone else stuck in the revision cycle? Got any words of wisdom on how to move forward with it?

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