I’ve blogged about my crazy writing schedule many times. Balancing being a mom, having a full-time job, tons of freelance, and writing my crime fiction—it’s not easy, but, boy, is it worth it when I actually get to write.
Revision is the same way for me. I tend to revise quite a bit as I go, mostly because I find it so much easier if I get it all out right the first time. Yes, I know this is a bit unusual—I have many writing buddies who feel like if you go back during a first draft, you’re dead in the water. They much prefer to get it all out on paper and then spend time combing through it once the base is there. But that’s never really been me.
All that said, my most recent manuscript has required more heavy, after-the-fact revision than I’ve ever felt was necessary before. I revised as I wrote, just like usual, but the nature of this manuscript (dual first-person narratives) and the real “plottiness” of the story meant it has needed much, much more time in revision than anything I can remember working on, aside from my very first stab at a book. And we all know how those first manuscripts go—they’re a writing lesson wrapped in a marathon, to be sure.
To go with the unusual nature of this manuscript’s behavior, I decided to try a little something different once I thought I might be FINALLY done revising it.
Spend a day with it.
I hadn’t gotten a chance to read the thing in a short time period. Rather, because of all my other commitments, it would normally take me two weeks or more to read the full 467 pages. (Yeah, it’s super long).
And with that long a period between when I started and when I finished a read, I felt I might be missing something.
I couldn’t tell if I had the emotional ebb and flow right. Had I parsed out enough of the backstory? Did a running joke actually run through the whole thing or did it only show up when it darn well felt like it?
So, as a very, very rare luxury to myself, I took an entire day off work, just to read. Maybe a silly use of vacation time, but I felt it was important to see this one as a whole.
And you know what? I learned more about this manuscript in that day than I probably had in months of here-and-there revision. Spending that many uninterrupted hours with it meant I could see the little things that worked, the things that didn’t, and what could get slashed out all together.
I also figured out that despite the necessary changes, the manuscript was in way better shape than I thought. Thus: I feel super relieved.
I also have a few days of inputting my notes (I read it on paper rather than on a screen—another glorious change, no offense to my MacBook or Kindle), but in the scheme of things, that day really saved me plenty of time and frustration.
Do you ever take a large chunk of time to read your writing in revision or another part of the process? Does it help you?