Things I Struggle With and How I’m Fixing Them
(I’m outlining my revisions process during the September and October of Pitch Wars (which is what again?). It’s not just me! Other mentors are blogging, too.)
If you’ve got Type A Personality Problems or if you’re running 670 thousand miles per hour with excitement, then you and I might be sharing a boat. Don’t worry, it’s a big boat, filled with frantic deckhands who know very little about sailing but are wel-versed in the method of “run in circles while screeching in terror”.
OK, so what’s my problem exactly?
Does this sound like a familiar process:
- Get project.
- Work tirelessly on project for first four days.
- Become the Laziest of the Lazies.
- Deadline approaches.
- Spend last three days in a work-fueled haze of GETTING STUFF DONE.
- Finish project with less sleep than the sun.
- Meet deadline.
- Meet pillow.
- Awaken days later to the ashes of your once-awake once-productive life. But hey, you got the project in on time.
This is the mentality of a student, at least. I say this with the experience of high school and college in my ancient youth of two years ago.
When I got my edit letter from Laura Salters, I dove into work like a mole in a hole after gold. Yep. With that much rhyming. BUT, I sort of rushed my edits.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that process IF. IF the project only takes a week to finish total. If you’re give all semester or all year to do something, but it really only takes you a few hours, that’s how much time you’ll spend on it.
Hard Work, Schedules, and Determination
It’s different with writing and revising a book. It’s not something you can cram out in a coffee-craze all-nighter (not to say that coffee-crazed all-nighters are unheard of, just not a regular practice you’ll want to uphold). Revising is something you do over time with attention and breaks in between so you can be as objective and pragmatic as possible. As much fun as inspired imagination and musing creativity, those things have a much smaller role in revisions.
For revisions? It’s time to meet the 3rd grade teacher version of yourself. You know the one. Red pen marking all the spelling errors and math mixups. No mercy. Wrinkly forehead and stern eyebrows that shout this ain’t easy peasy 2nd grade anymore.
Of course, the red pen goes back and scribbles out ain’t and replaces it with a socially acceptable term.
Now is the time to tear apart, rebuild, and fine tune your manuscript. And you can’t do that in a single week.
For my rushed revisions? That’s fine, as long as I go back and re-evaluate my work and bring it up to snuff. That sentence I stopped in the middle and forgot to finish? Yeah. Let’s take care of that. If you can sense the caffeine-craze when you read it, then so can your reader. Don’t let your frantic pace alter your writing in a bad way.
For Pitch Wars, we work with an author for two whole months! When you think about it, that’s 8 weeks (maybe even just 6 if if the edit letter comes in a week later or if you spend a week on the query/pitch), just 8 weeks to dive into the story, pull apart the broken bits and smash them to dust and scatter the dust into a constellation of new words and then you lose track of your analogy and you end up on Pluto which is a dwarf planet (silly scientists, it’s all about the size to them [and there’s a joke there somewhere] but no time for jokes, we’ve got revisions to do) and 8 weeks is maybe two four-week segments and so you divide your ms by 4 and that’s one week of work for you, and are you freaking out about it yet and…. actually…? Let’s not think about it.
Let’s get to work.
Long story (and metaphor) short, you can’t apply school deadlines to writing deadlines. It’s hard work, and you need to be on board (with the commitment and energy) before you can go sailing toward the horizons of agentry and publishing.
So, my fearful deckhands, whether you got into Pitch Wars or you’re a stow-away along for the ride, just remember that you’re not alone! Check out the resources below for more anti-alone proof!
Want more writing tips?
- Check out the previous posts I’ve done on revision.
- Or check out the Show Don’t Tell Learn By Example series.
- If you have questions or suggestions, comment here or tweet it at the #pitchwars hashtag on Twitter!
- Don’t want to scroll back up? Here’s the list of blogging mentees I mentioned earlier.