Tag Archives: editing

Revision Massacre

My helpless novel is currently sprawled around me in tiny, bloody pieces.  It’s been hacked, chopped and ripped to shreds.  The remnants are scattered about in no logical sequence, leaving me staring at the mess with bloody hands.  

I’ve accepted the fact that it was bound to happen some time.  It was basically dead to begin with.  Luckily, even as my inner critic tells me it’s not worth saving, I still feel a slight heart beat.  Like a surgeon carefully and methodically saving a life,  I’m determined to piece it back together, stronger than it was before.  

There is one slight problem.  This surgeon never went to medical school.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to mash the mess together with out the proper tools and hope it miraculously comes back to life.  The harder I tried, the worse it got leaving me overwhelmed and my beloved characters begging me to save them.  

I knew I had to change my plan or risk destroying it even further.  

First, I had to take a step back and regain my focus.  Because I wrote the first draft so quickly, it’s filled with inconsistencies and serious structural problems.  

Next came the tedious task of reading it from beginning to end (no matter how painful), figuring out the problems, and plotting out a new, detailed outline.  I had to remind myself to trust my instincts and not be afraid of making big changes, which I did.  I added characters, removed characters, and changed a major part of the plot.  What I was left with, was an organized system for putting the pieces together.   

My manuscript still remains in critical condition, but I can finally look at it with out a sense of dread.  

How do you approach the revision process?  Do you find it daunting or exciting?

 

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Deadline…PAST DUE!

After a brief lack of motivation at the beginning of January, and taking care of a sick baby for the last week and a half, I am so far behind on my novel.

In most areas of my life, I have to set deadlines or else nothing would get done.  Seriously.  My mind is usually buzzing a million miles a minute so it helps me prioritize and actually cross items of off my ever-growing to-do list.

I knew I would either have to stick a deadline on my writing or watch it end up in a pile with the rest of my half-assed, unfinished project.  After sadly realizing how much work I still need to do to turn a messy rough draft into an even coherent story had me bowing my head in shame and questioning my approach.  Luckily, I didn’t let it get me down for too long.  I am so determined to turn this dream into a reality, that I had to come up with a better game plan.

I originally dove into this novel head first and naively believed that my passion for writing would carry me through.  Right now you are probably laughing at my stupidity or giving an acknowledging nod, because you too thought it would be a piece of cake.

“Sure, I can get the revisions done in a month and off for reviews and onto an agent right after that!  I wrote it in a month, why not right?”  I can’t believe I ever thought that was a “realistic deadline!”  It was insane.

I instantly whipped out my trusty planner, favorite pen and started jotting down an ACTUAL plan that won’t leave me feeling like a failure, totally overwhelmed, or submitting a horrible novel just because I want to meet a “deadline.”  … hopefully 😉

I thought I would share a couple of key points I came up with in case anyone else was in the same sinking boat:

  1. Set realistic, SMALLER goals that are attainable. –  After admitting to myself that writing isn’t always fun and it certainly isn’t always easy, I have a better idea what kind of time I need to create something that I’m proud of.  It’s important to know your own personal limits to avoid getting burned out and discouraged.  
  2. Schedule, schedule, schedule –  Plopping down at my computer or notes when ever I felt like it, clearly wasn’t getting me very far.  After work, taking care of a very energetic baby boy, cleaning the house (this is where my husband would laugh), and what ever shenanigans is going on at the moment, the only thing I want to do at the end of the day is relax… Solution?  Write in the morning when I have energy and focus.  I also have to write every day or I fall into the habit of saying, “Oh, I’ll write tomorrow…”  Try to find time that fits naturally into your schedule, whether that means writing daily or every Tuesday at 3:00 am.
  3. Measurable accountability – People always say if you want to accomplish a goal, tell others about it.  I am new to the writing and blogging world, so I don’t have many write buddies (yet!) so for now, I have given my husband a general idea of my goals so he can help motivate me to keep going.  We usually sit down every Sunday and talk about what we have coming up in the week, so I decided to add a “novel update” to review my progress.  He’s not a writer, so I expect some interesting conversations.  The more people you have in your cheering section, the better so reach out to people you know will help you to keep reaching for the finish line.
  4. Remember why you write –  There have been so many occasions when I have stared at the computer screen  and wondered what the hell made me think I could write a book!  With out fail, as soon as I pick up a brilliant novel, I’m reminded how much I love writing.  It sounds cheesy, but isn’t reading a really great book the best magic trick around?  I love being about to care so deeply for a character or story that I’m instantly lost in another world.  That is what brings me back with renewed faith in myself.  I want to spread a little of that magic!

If you have any other tips that keep you self motivated  or if you could use some writerly support- I would love to hear!

Tagged , , , ,

Voices in my head…

2111131045613367_3g6ZTOzZ_c

This sums up how I’m feeling today. My characters are shouting all at once while I try to capture everything they are telling me before it’s lost. It’s left me feeling a little crazy…and tired.

Tagged , , , , ,

A taste of my novel…

I keep waiting for the day when I no longer see her. Fifteen years after her death and my mother is still as easy to find now as she was then.

I close my eyes, and there she is; dead, wrist perfectly slit, soaking in a tub of her own blood.

Red.

I feel her  buzz relentlessly around my head, like gnats on a sticky, hot summer day.  She’s there, happily swarming aggressively around me until I can no longer breathe.

Tagged , , , , ,

Stuck in a writing rut?

Me too…My typical excitement for the new year and my novel has mysteriously disappeared.  Instead of approaching my computer with enthusiasm, I find myself dreading it or worse avoiding it all together. 

There are countless articles out there with tips on how to overcome writer’s block.  But what if you are just lacking motivation?  Based on advice that I have read and some of my own experience, I have come up with a couple of things that seem to work for me. 

  • Read – I either re-read one of my favorite books or one in the same genre that I’m currently writing.  This usually reminds me why I’m writing in the first place – to craft a beautiful, brilliant story! 
  • Other artistic outlets – When i’m in a slump, picking up a paintbrush or my camera can usually get my creative juices flowing again. 
  • Tackle my to-do list – Sometimes items I have been putting off weigh heavily on my mind and I just can’t concentrate on writing.  Crossing a nagging task of of my to-do list helps alleviate the burden and allows me to regain focus. 
  • Write anyways – This is a common one listed to help get over writer’s block.  There are days when you just have to force your self to write.  Jotting down lists, working on a new story, or even writing in my journal helps me get back in the swing of things.
  • Take a couple days off – There are times when none of these work and I just need a “writing vacation.”  I have to remind myself that its OK to take a break every once in a while.  The perfectionist in me wants to get everything done right away and flawless, but that typically leaves me feeling overwhelmed and burned out.  This gives me a chance to clear my head and approach my writing with more focus. 

My novel has left me feeling very overwhelmed lately, so I took a “writing vacation.”  I spent the week trying to not feel guilty about not working on it and figured out what was really bothering me.  As I’ve been revising my very rough draft the plot and characters began to detach.   

Every time I sat down to work on it I felt lost and wasn’t sure how to bring it back together, which has left me very discouraged.  After taking a couple of days off I’ve been able to work up an outline and clear plan of attack. 

What helps you when writing seems overwhelming or discouraging?  I’d love to hear your solutions!

Tagged , , , , ,
Advertisements