Good morning revisers!! :D We've got a fabulous guest AND a giveaway! Comment on Deb's post today and you'll be entered to win a deck of Fiction Magic Cards!
by Deb Lund
What’s the difference between people who dread revision and those who love it? Is it experience, or strategy, or (yikes) personality?
Characters head out on quests, and revision is a quest of its own.
When I talk about revision in school visits, I tell them how I can always tell the difference between little-kid writers and those who are a little more mature (obviously I don’t say this to the youngest audiences). Then I ask what little kids say when their teacher wants them to write more, and someone always answers correctly. “But I’m done!”
Writing is rewriting. You have to mine through lots of rock to get to the gems, and it’s in revision that you arrange those gems, polish them, and show them off in a setting you’ve designed. You might string them together like a necklace, revising the placement of each stone until it’s the perfect combination.
Two of my editors have told me I was their best reviser. I didn’t always fit that title. As writers (or creators of any art), we have these quirky voices in our heads that tell us we can’t do it, or it’s going to take too long, or it’s just too overwhelming to begin. And then those same voices have the audacity to tell us that we’re the only ones who struggle with revision. We look at the completed work of others and know it’s beyond us. We have a vision, but it doesn’t come out of our heads the way we see it before it lands on paper.
Guess what? That’s true for everyone! Nothing creative ever takes shape exactly the way it’s planned. We’re so busy judging others from the outside, not realizing that they may have the same insecurities as we do on the inside. We believe we’re doomed to fail the revision quest. Revision is where the line is drawn for some of us. We hand over our power, quaking, tiring as we near the finish line. We’re scared. We think this is where we find out if we are worthy or not. So we put it off until it becomes a big monster, a worse adversary than any villain we could create. It’s time to transform that monster.
Do you like jigsaw puzzles? Exploring new hiking trails? Are you a collector? Do you hit thrift stores looking for finds? When you read your favorite books, are you willing to go to the ends of the earth with those characters just to find out what happens? You need to kindle that same kind of passion when revising your own writing.
Revision doesn’t have to be the dirty work. Turn it into play! Host a revision party, dress up as your character, act out scenes, or dream up a handful of “What If…” questions for each scene that doesn’t trigger an emotion for you. Use your Fiction Magic card deck! Replace your judgment about revision with curiosity toward it. Tell yourself a new story about revision.
But yes, it’s true. People who like revision are neurotic. I know. I get downright obsessive with revision. And I love it—partly because of experience, maybe because of a few strategies I’ve learned, and (yikes) my quirky personality. But you can develop a love for revision, too. It just takes energy. A boost in passion. A willingness to let go of misbeliefs. And then you’re unstoppable.
The experience will come. There are strategies galore on this blog. Oh, and that personality thing? I lied. Personality has nothing to do with it. It’s something even quirkier than that. But it’s something you can change.
You’re a writer, and as I always say (and you can quote me on this), “Sometimes the stories writers most need to revise are not the ones they write, but the ones they tell themselves about their writing.”
Change your story = change your attitude = change your outcome.
Best wishes on your quest…
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