Writing: Know where you're headed, but don't rush a good thing
Currently, I am working on substantial revisions for one of my manuscripts. When I had set out to do this revision, I planned all my changes on a spreadsheet and gave myself deadlines (I'm a type-A planner. Can you tell?). At first I was moving pretty steadily, making my daily, and weekly goals, and then things got sticky. I pushed through anyway. And then I got stuck. After what felt like taking a huge step forward with the revision, I realized I had taken two steps back. By trying to meet my daily goals and weekly deadlines, I had rushed the story and it showed in my writing. Every scene felt forced.
One and a half week's worth of work needed to be re-revised. That hurt. That really, really, hurt. And my mindset became totally wrecked as the finish line slipped farther and farther away. And when you're feeling down, all the other negative chatter follows, making it hard to be focused or passionate about the story when all you can see are the flaws in it.
I got myself out of it by taking the time to go back and seeing where things went wrong and being honest with myself with what needed to be done to get me back on track.
Here are some tips and tricks that helped me:
- Always, always, always, have an updated outline as you revise. It helps to sort out the changes you've made to easily compare it with what the draft used to be. Since there are so many moving part to revising, I use a spreadsheet which has two outlines. One is the previous draft and the other is what I want the revised draft to be. I use columns in between these two outlines to jot down notes for myself on what needs to be changed. Think of it like going from point A to point B. How do I make the draft I have now into what I want it to be? That's what you need to figure out during the revision planning process, and then revising is all about executing it. Though, I will mention, nothing is ever set in stone. As you are knee deep in revisions, you might change your mind on how you want the finished revision to look like. That's totally okay, but update the SS to reflect the new changes so you always know where you are and where you're headed when your knee deep in revisions. (If you guys want a full explanation on how I make revision spreadsheets, let me know, and I can make a resource post for it.)
- Remember to never rush a good thing: This applies to life but also drafting/revising. You can always tell where an author put in a lot of time in a piece of work, versus rushing through a plot point. Rushing leaves the reader unsatisfied. I mean forced plot, forced character, forced everything, wouldn't that leave you unsatisfied? You know how you can tell when someone is trying to hard? It's basically the same thing. You're trying too hard to make a plot point or character arc stick and it shows up as being inauthentic.
So happy to say that I am almost two-thirds done with this revision! Middles for me are always the hardest, so I am looking forward to revising the ending and being done with this layer of revision.
Motivation & Inspiration
Motivation: Showing Up & Never Giving Up
This month in the woes of my revision I looked for some inspiration and found them in some podcasts featuring Sarah J Mass and Julie Dao! If you need a motivating boost, check them out!
- Showing Up - Sarah J Mass interview at '88 Cups of Tea': I absolutely adored Sarah's conviction and dedication to her craft. Her belief in herself and what she wanted to do with her life since 16 really restored my belief in myself and what I want to be: a writer! Her most important advice? Show up, every day. If it's the job you want, you have to work for it.
- Never Giving Up - Julie Dao interview at Write or Die: I knew a little bit about Julie's road to publication but not to this extent! She goes through her journey in detail which goes to show that the only failure in writing is in giving up. Her persistence is awe-inspiring and gives me hope for my own journey. She made a great comment about how you never really know when success will arrive. It may be right around the corner and you don't even know it. So that should be reason enough to keep going, and never give up.
Inspiration: Latest book & music recs
Book-wise these two have been my highlights:
Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young - Thank you Ms. Young for bringing me out of my book slump! This standalone YA fantasy had so much action and heart, and was seriously my cup of tea. I devoured this beauty for its fun adventure and gut-wrenching plot. These are the kind of fantasy books that I want to write so this story just felt like home bringing me to a brand new place with such a feisty, but flawed heroine! Oh and also, the slow burn romance. Bonus points for that. Fiske fan forever! *end fangirling rant* (She also had a great interview with Sarah Enni on the First Draft podcast, that I highly recommend listening to as well!)
You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero - This was a Mother's Day gift from my sister. Now, that I am pregnant, I've been kind of stunned at how much it costs to raise a human being! I always had the mentality that money does not make a person happy nor does it define your worth. One thing I have to admit: money makes life a whole lot easier as long as you are able to manage your money well. Though some parts I couldn't get behind 100%, I felt like this was a quick and uplifting read to encourage you to step out of your shell and ask for what you want.
Own the day, Own your life by Aubrey Marcus - So I really enjoy listening to self-help/motivating books on audiobook (it makes doing chores/the commute go by so much easier). I highly recommend you do the same for this one. Marcus illustrates how focusing on optimizing and doing your best each day is the best approach to owning your life instead of getting owned by the day to day. Focusing on all aspects of your life, this book really resonated with me (I'm a productivity junkie--anything to be more efficient and make the most use of my time always gets me inspired) by emphasizing balance and how to achieve it. There were so many takeaways from it that I'm still digesting everything I learned.
Music-the latest adds to my spotify playlist: I've been on an alternative kick lately!
Panic! At The Disco - Thank you for the new album. My faves are: Dying in LA, High Hopes, Hey Look Mam I Made It
The 1975 - Girls, Somebody Else
Rosie Darling - I Fall Apart