I decided that March would be my month of revision for my WIP (work-in-progress) and I thought that sharing my experiences would help me make sense of it all. As much as I like writing though, I really struggle with revision. Revision’s even harder when you don’t like your first draft. At all.
It all started when I decided to open my document and finally go over my manuscript as a reader (after watching NaNoWriMo’s Spreecast video on how to revise your NaNo novel. Very helpful video if anyone’s interested!)
As soon as I read the first sentence, I cringed inside. Wow. There’s a lot of awkward wording here. Yeah…This is terrible.
These were some of the thoughts going through my head. I could barely get through the first chapter: there was way too much exposition, very little action going on and cliches about people everywhere. Dejected, I was ready to close it and start all over again.
But then I searched up ‘hating your first draft’ on Google and found a great blog post on why writing a first draft sucks. It’s hard work and even though it was more about writing a first draft rather than revising one, it reminded me that how I felt was completely normal.
After reading the blog post, I came to the realization that this was more about how I felt about my first draft rather than the first draft itself. Despite my disappointment, I knew deep down that there were pieces I could use or tweak for a second draft and that I really wouldn’t have to start all over again.
I started thinking more logically about my story, looking at it from a detached point-of-view rather than an emotional, personal one. I thought about it technically: what was it about the piece that wasn’t working? Ruminating over this for a little while, I came up with a list of weak spots that I saw in my story and returned to it, ready to make notes as I read through it again.
A revelation had dawned on me as well. I suddenly understood that by looking at what was wrong in my story and making notes about it, I was learning more about writing. I couldn’t just throw in the towel and call it a day. This will only make me better as a writer. You learn from what you do wrong and you know what to do next time, I thought.
March is my revision month. I’ve come to realize that I’m on a big learning curve. And that’s really exciting because it’s in those learning curves that you experience tremendous growth!
Editing is my least favourite part of writing– but I know it’s a necessary part. There’s nothing better than reading a polished piece of writing. I have a long way to go but I think it’s more about what you learn than the end result itself.
How do you motivate yourself to edit and revise first drafts (if you dislike revision)? How do you cope with self-doubt or procrastination during the revision process?