Saturday, February 4, 2017

Falling Back in Love with Your Manuscript

One of the most exciting parts of writing is that puppy love phase. 

You know what I’m talking about. It’s those early days as you’re fleshing out your characters and defining your plot points. You spend hours selecting the perfect character name. You take the time to carefully research the city or world you’re writing about and giggle over your character’s idiosyncrasies. You cry—real actual tears—as you describe their heartbreaking lives. Your story is real and you honestly think it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Those first 10,000 words or so just flow and sure, maybe you hit a few bumps in the road, but you keep going until you type “The End.”

But we writers know that the first “The End” is actually only the beginning. First revision, CP note revisions, Beta reader revisions, agent revisions, then editor revisions, then copyeditor revisions…

How many times can you re-read your own words without your eyes crossing and you drop-kicking your laptop out a 3rd story window? You begin to question everything. The story is awful. The characters dull. The plot done a million times before. You've officially fallen out of love with your manuscript.

If you’re anything like me, the above is not dramatic; it's real life when writing a book. Once you do a few revision rounds on a manuscript, you never want to HEAR about your story again, let alone keep implementing fresh ideas.

But we have to. It’s our job as writers to continue to improve our stories and cut away the fluff and layer in the meaning. It’s what makes writing magic.

So how can you stay engaged in your revisions and fall back in love with your manuscript?

  • Put it aside. Sometimes the best thing you can do is not look at your manuscript for a week or two. Yes, maybe that will delay a deadline, but beating your head against a brick wall delays deadlines too.
  • Change up the order. Start at the end and revise forward. Maybe reading it a different way will help you get out of the rut and also help you see pacing issues you don’t always see reading chronologically. Or if it's dual POV, work on only one POV at a time. That way you can work on staying in one "voice" at a time.
  • Work on a different medium. Do you write in Scrivner? Do a revision round in Word. Tired of reading on a computer? Print it out and mark up sections in the margins. Read it on your Kindle and keep a notepad of notes where you want to make changes. The bottom line is mix it up a little. Sometimes just viewing it on a different medium can make all the difference in the world.

It doesn’t matter what you do, the bottom line is don’t give up. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in that rut of this will never be done and “OH, I have this wonderful new shiny idea that would be SO much better than this dumpster fire of trash.” Keep pressing through because the world needs your words.

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