I feel like I’m going to be editing and revising forever. Last year, all I did was write. It was incredibly fun. Since mid-July though, I’ve been working on ONE project, a never ending revision of my first novel.
Devoting a lot of time to writing, practicing if you will, can help a person improve their writing ability. I know it’s helped me. For my second novel, I wrote something that was completely uncharacteristic of me and out of my comfort zone as a means to stretch myself and improve my skill.
I’ve learned, however, during this lengthy revision process, that writing constantly isn’t enough. Revision and editing are vital to becoming a better writer.
The other day I was talking to another writer….[who] thought that some revision methods could be taught, but not writing.
To me, most of writing is revision. What she seemed to be calling “writing” is what I would call “drafting”–first drafting–if there is to be a split between writing and revision. So to say that revision can be taught is, to me, to say that writing can be taught.
What struck me most about his post was the line, “To me, most of writing is revision.” When I first read that, I was glad to know that I wasn’t alone, that other authors spend a lot of time revising too. If my stories can be even half as well thought out, intricate, and captivating as The Hundred-Year Flood is, I’ll be happy.
My second thought when I read that line was ‘Crap. This lengthy revision is a normal part of writing?’ Knowing that I’m making my manuscript better by revising it is nice. Knowing that my future revision projects might go faster because I’m learning and growing so much now is nice. Despite all of that, continually editing and revising is exhausting. I’m ready to be done with it! I don’t hate revising. Often, it can be fun. The length of time it takes though, is mind boggling.
It’s worth it. I’d rather have a well-crafted book than a poorly executed ‘good story.’ I’m writing fantasy so I don’t expect it to be a literary masterpiece or anything. I just want my manuscript to be the best that it can be.
Slow, tedious, and sometimes painful as the revision process can be, I think it’s essential. It isn’t something that should be rushed, no matter how eager one is to get their story out there. Early in this process I posted about How to NOT Go Insane While Editing Your Novel. Check it out if you’re struggling.
I’ve learned a lot by revising. I’m grateful for the experience. I know that when I finally get around to writing again, I’ll be much better at it: I’ll be more organized, have my story and character arcs mapped out better, and hopefully, be better at writing clearly and concisely.
We all think that we’ve written the best story EVER. If you open yourself up to the possibility that your work can be improved though, loads of ways to polish it might come to mind. In a way, it’s like writing all over again. There can be a lot of creativity in revising. Can be. Every project is different.
I think a good way to know if your revising project is done is when you (and others) can read through your manuscript without complaint. To find out what needs to be fixed in your story, or to decide whether or not you’re done, try reading your story aloud to yourself. If you want to publish, than you’ll probably have an audio book made of it at some point. If you want others to listen to it without cringing or being confused, make sure that you can listen to it first.
Accept the slowness of the process. Revising is slow, but it’s worth it.