February 11, 2013

Random Revision Ramblings

"Whoooo wants to finish
this revision for me?"
Fresh off a weekend where I did nothing but edits, I find myself shockingly brain-fried. And, since I'm waiting on posting a few reviews until Cybils winners are announced (I got all excited, went and read a few finalist titles, and then realized I should probably do as the panelists do and avoid posting about them for now) I thought this might be a good time to put down a few thoughts on writing. Specifically revision, since I'm doing a lot of that right now.

One of the things I talked about with CitySmartGirl over the weekend was the proliferation of blogs with writing how-to advice--regardless of the experience/knowledge level of the person giving the advice. And yes, there ARE a lot of blogs that are happy to dispense wisdom about writing. I know because one of my time-honored time-wasting methods is Googling for random writing help when I'm feeling stuck. But that makes me think: I may well have more writing and publishing experience than some of those giving the advice that I'm reading, and yet here I am feeling like I know nothing and I'm still looking around for help. To needlessly quote Kenan Thompson on SNL, What's up with that?

The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know squat. That's one problem. But what else is stopping me from dispensing wisdom of my own? It's very hard to articulate the stuff I do know; there's that. But also, as a visual artist, something I came to realize which is also true in writing is that every writer is different and every project is different, and has different demands. It can be very hard to figure out what those are. It's always tempting to think that, once you've finished the process of writing and revising one novel, all you have to do with the next one is lather, rinse, repeat.

So far, I have not found lather, rinse, repeat to be especially helpful advice, except insofar as one must, at a minimum, spend plenty of time with Butt In Chair, and Just Work, Dammit. I have realized that, for every project, something slightly (or radically) different started me on the road to writing it; my goals are not the same; its strengths and weaknesses are different; and it takes a discerning eye and patience and plain old teeth-gritting determination to embark on the revision process and figure out what needs to be done and in what order.

I'm still trying to figure that out for my next project. But I'm curious: what do other writers do? Do you have a step-by-step revision method that you utilize, in the same order, without fail? Or are you like me and fumble around in a panic until you've got it semi-figured-out? Or something in the middle? Discuss.

1 comment:

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I don't have a single method. It depends on what I have to do and what the project is like.

I generally try to fix the big stuff first and then move on to the little stuff. But I had to reverse that during one revision of my last project.

To me, the value of all the tools and advice is that there isn't one single thing that works for everyone every time. So the different tools give us things to try when we're stuck.