In any part of life, there is going to be times when you need to make revisions. Plans change and things come up so you have to make adjustments. Something that I wish I had realized long ago, is that revisions can be made the same way across different areas in your life. When an event comes up in life, you just make adjustments and maybe choose priorities, but you keep going with life.
If you intend to be a writer, you’ll learn to make revisions as often or more as writing. I think it’s the same with any creative occupation, and any area in which you hope to succeed. Revising is just part of life and unavoidable. So wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure out how to do it? It’s true that every situation is different, but there is still a basic pattern.
I started writing when I was 8 years old, and I was probably 10 when I had stories that I stuck with longer than one sitting. Around that time is when I discovered that there is always a better way to write a story. I would begin writing a story and then write a completely new beginning. Then, when I would read it later, I’d think of a better way for it to begin and start again. The result is about a dozen beginnings and no middles or ends.
I will not say that revising is a bad thing, because that prevents us from having a lot of crappy books. Revising is a very good thing, but it needs to be done right. You can’t make changes to something that doesn’t completely exist. You can’t remodel a house before it’s been built. While revising is important, writing does have to come first.
Write like crazy and get the whole story down, even if there are gaps and some things may not make sense. Once that’s done, then you’ve got something to work with, and you can get started on the revisions. But at this point, you still need to keep your revising brain under control and revise in the right order.
The first step is to keep your first draft. You don’t give up on your entire life and lifestyle because you get sick and have to visit the doctor. Things aren’t perfect, but you’ve got good things to work with, so hold onto it.
Second step to revisions is the big picture stuff. Look at the storyline as a whole, are there gaps or unresolved issues in the story? Do characters have their own progressions and a full and complete arc? Are there any impossibilities that need to be fixed? Fix them.
Step three is looking over the new revision and ensuring that it passes the big issues and you can look at the medium sized problems. This can be things like how you want to increase emotion in a certain scene, or you want to add foreshadowing.
The Fourth Step is to find all the nit-picky things. This is the functional things like grammar and spelling. You may want to make sentences a bit more concise and find the perfect word. But this step is when you’re making sure that this draft is ready for the public.
Each of the steps may include multiple drafts, they’re just the main steps of revision. I’ve found that I apply this revision process to cleaning. I look at a room and find the big things that need to be taken care of. Sometimes it takes a lot of trips to take care of the large, medium, small things that don’t belong in the room.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten to the fourth step very often, mostly because I don’t follow the first step, and I try going straight to the third step. Revising isn’t about making things perfect at once, it’s about taking the steps to make it a bit better and making progress.
Apply this in all areas of your life! Hold onto the progress you have and just take one step at a time to make things better. Revise your habits, your routines, your bedroom, your writing. Learn and love the process. Happy revising! #amrevising