IWSG: That Revision Stumbling Block

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! To Join in, go to http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html


The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!


I’m half revising and half writing, right now. I have a list of scenes that are missing from my manuscript, and I’m writing those scenes. I’m doing fairly well with the writing part, at the moment. A couple hundred words over my lunch hours, and more when I get home, and sometimes, I even have words early in the morning which is not exactly easy for me. I tend to get sidetracked by news, and newsletters, and the occasional outside obligation.

My insecurity kicks in somewhere between writing and revision. I’ve hit the point that I know I can write a book. I have the trunk full of first drafts to prove it. That was a milestone for me. Yes, I can write a story and sustain it over a hundred thousand words.

It’s the editing that gets me. The revising until the thing that entertained me is 1.) Clean enough not to annoy the shit out of other people and 2.) Clean quickly.

I’m fighting all the jerky starts and stops and unseemly chunks that come from being a pantser, and I’m never entirely confident of my ability to do so in a reasonable length of time. I’m not even sure what a reasonable length of time is.

At this exact moment, I’m fighting to revise into something presentable within the next couple of months. (This after having dragged my revision out over a countable eternity.) I am going to pretend to be well organized and disciplined, and hope to have a manuscript ready by then.

I will not chase plot bunnies. I will stick to my color coded index cards. I will approach those yellow cards–the ones that suggest I’m going over my allotted word count–with great trepidation and parsimony.

I will work on one scene at a time, and I will finish it before I move on to the next.

Even if the next one is the good one, where the dragons go to Madame Tussaud’s, and the pixies all wind up covered in melted wax.

So, tell me… was there a particular point at which revision became streamlined and efficient for you? How many goats did you have to sacrifice to bring that about? Hints? Tips? Anything?


  1. Reply

    I suspect it will be another ten years of writing before I can call my revision process “streamlined and efficient”, but I have definitely become better at getting each edit done in a semi-reasonable time period.

    Part of it is that every year I become more dedicated to my craft, part of it is that I outline more(both before the first draft and for each edit). More recently, part of it is that my first book is coming out this year and I want to capitalize on that success by publishing other work quickly.

    So… I have no useful advice except to remember that finishing revisions and being able to send your novel out(even to beta readers) is even more satisfying than finishing the first draft. Oh, and remember to practice extra self care and self love while you’re revising. It’s all too easy to slip into hating more than just your novel.

    Good luck!

  2. Reply

    Sorry, no useful hints or tips from me, but lots of empathy. I too am in the midst of an endless edit. One day I will finish. Maybe. 😉

  3. Reply

    and I might have some goats to put in it for you! (but, y’know goats – easier to herd cats!)

    Hey pixies & dragons & melted wax? Don’t you know there’s a story hop looming on the horizon??

    • Reply

      Oh, yes, I know. I went over to Juneta’s and that timer of hers was just staring at me. I have a hunch it’s going to be very effective for getting people to finish stories on time. I may bring my pixies over to the hop. I haven’t really decided, yet, but that was one pretty-decent Idea I nearly missed as it went scooting by. Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Streamlined editing process? I think that’s a myth. I feel like my process is always changing, and that’s the trick for me, is to allow that the process will change, and to be open to changes. For instance, I took a break from editing this week to insert a new subplot. It took a couple of days to weave it in everywhere. It sounds to me like you’re very organized and will make it through to the end. http://www.raimeygallant.com

  5. Reply

    I have never found a streamlined, efficient editing process. I always just kind of flounder around until I accidentally end up finding my way out of it. Maybe I should look into that goat thing?

    • Reply

      I’m absolutely sure the goat thing works. But the neighbors keep complaining about “animals of a barnyard nature” and the police keep taking away my goats! So, I’m on the hamster wheel with everybody else, right now.

  6. Reply

    Ha! I wish I had some tips on streamlining editing. Mostly I have trouble getting the writing done. When it comes to the editing phase, I take it chapter by chapter. Writing, though? I’m all over the board.

    • Reply

      I keep debating whether it’s the editing process that needs changing or the writing process. My writing is getting better, but I’m still all over the place on plot.

  7. Reply

    I don’t know of any magic bullet. There’s no blog post I can share with a special technique that will make all the difference. It’s just time and many editing passes.

    I pantsed my first six novels, and I just cycled through them. I revise until I can’t stand one and move on to the next. I think I have to grow as a writer before I can take my words to the next level. So after I run through all my books, it’s time to write and get critique on another dozen short stories.

    Then I start the cycle again. I suppose if there’s any magic, it’s in getting and giving critiques.

    • Reply

      Oh, a magic bullet would be nice! Do you mind if I ask what the first thing you do when you start a revision is?

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