Day two hundred forty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Not too long ago I had a good thing going. I was writing every day and chronicling my experience of writing my first novel. I was on a roll at a comfortable pace and settled into a comfortable groove. After about six months, I completed the first draft. But ever since then, my “roll” has turned into more of an awkward tumble. Somehow, I lost my groove.
I’m working on getting it back but I’m still out of sync. I think it is just going to take some time, patience and continued determination to reach my goal. Hopefully soon, I’ll tumble my way back into my groove again.
Well, if this isn’t a sign that I am disenchanted with revising the first draft of my book, I don’t know what is.
I wrote tonight. But I didn’t write for my own emotional enjoyment like I usually do. I wrote for my day job. Don’t get too excited or anything, but I wrote…are you ready for it? A settlement agreement. Yippee, woo hoo, I can hardly contain my creativity from exploding onto the screen. This is the type of writing I do at my day job on a regular basis, so when it comes to doing it during my free time, I usually can’t procrastinate quick enough. (Or slow enough?)
But in truth, I was glad to do it. I didn’t want to work on revising my book tonight. I settled a case today and if we are going to avoid trial later this week, I need to have the document ready to be signed tomorrow. I worked on it tonight when I would normally be writing for fun, or lately, revising (not so fun). I chose to write for my day job instead of for me. A settlement agreement, for Pete’s sake. I think it is fair to declare myself in a funk. The good news is, at least I’m still writing…something.
Day two hundred thirty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Am I in revising hell? Some days it feels like I am because in all honesty, I’d rather be writing. Writing is an exercise that allows one to stretch her legs and push herself to her limits, pulse a-ticking and mind a-blaze. Revising is…well, to me revising feels like the equivalent of the timer watching the clock on the sidelines, starting and stopping play.
It’s no wonder, then, that I have not been inclined to blog as often while in this revision phase. Motivation has been waning and I have not been spending as much daily time on my book like I was when I was writing. Is there something I can do to make this revision phase better? Does anyone have tips on how to make it more enjoyable than it actually is?
Day two hundred thirty-three of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Revising and rewriting is much more difficult than I anticipated. I’m too often squabbling over minor things, reluctant to take out parts that probably should be removed, and unsure of ways to make a chapter better. It has been overwhelming, really, so I have been searching for ways to improve the process. Finally, I think I found a solution.
Instead of revising by chapter, I have narrowed my focus to revise by paragraph. I ask myself several questions with each paragraph, picking my way through in small bites. It is no longer overwhelming. Bringing my lens closer has also allowed me to not get bogged down in trying to create a perfect 2nd draft. I have to remind myself: Make a pass and remember that you will need to make more passes before it is done. Just make a pass, one paragraph at a time.
These are the questions I have come up with to work on each paragraph:
Is the paragraph necessary to move the story forward? If it isn’t, get rid of it.
Does the paragraph serve its purpose to convey information to the reader in a clear way? If it doesn’t, revise it.
Is the information in the paragraph consistent with the plot? If it isn’t, get rid of it or rewrite it to fit the plot.
Does the paragraph keep the readers attention? If not, rewrite it.
Does the writing in the paragraph keep a smooth flow and rhythm, connecting well with the previous paragraph? If not, revise it.
Whether this method works for everyone is doubtful, but so far, it works for me. In fact, it may be just what I need to get to a finished manuscript.
Day two hundred thirty of my 365 Day Writing Project.
I’m back. Back into the rewrite. I did some other writing for a bit, but began to again feel that niggling urge to get up to my elbows in revising my first draft. And I must say, it feels good to get back at it.
I’m revisiting the second half of Chapter 3 with purpose in mind to make changes to the plot. So far, so good. It’s even a little exciting. I have discovered that plot changes have that effect on me. With renewed creative energy, I look forward to working on it some more tomorrow.
Day two hundred twenty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.
Since I completed my first draft and have been in the rewriting/revising mode, I haven’t been posting here as much. Revising just isn’t interesting to blog about. When there were daily word counts to report and I was going through the process of writing my book chapter by chapter, I had more to discuss. The struggles, the excitement, the challenges I never even anticipated. It was more interesting, at least it was for me. But now, not so much. I’m merely tweaking and reworking what’s already done. It isn’t sexy, not that this blog ever was.
It turns out, revising is downright boring, really. So it’s only natural that I have been pulled away from the rewrite to write other things. Because I have been doing other writing, keeping steady progress of the rewrite has been difficult. Like I posted here last week, it’s okay to get sidetracked. Especially if there is enjoyment in writing to be had. And there is! The new piece I have started is totally different from the first. I’m writing it in the first person instead of the third, which I have always found to be a fun experience. Plus, this new piece is a much more raw and emotional story. Although I am still getting in some sporadic time on the first book, it feels much less fulfilling than writing the new piece. At the moment, anyway. So I’m just going to go with it for a while. I’m still writing, and still happy to be doing so.
Day two hundred nineteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.
As I continue to rewrite and revise my first draft, I sometimes feel like I’m in some kind of bipolar existence. One moment I’m reading it thinking, “Who wrote this garbage?” and then another moment I’m caught up in the story and a single sentence leads me to breathe a deep sigh and forms a smile on my face. Can I really love and hate my own book at the same time?
Yes. I absolutely can, and here is why: because it’s the first draft. It is a simple fact of a first draft that there are at least as many lousy parts as those that are good. The point of rewriting second, third, fourth and tenth drafts is to eliminate the junk and turn the rest into something great. I have faith that at some point in the revision of multiple drafts, my love-hate relationship with my book will evolve into love-love.
Day two hundred sixteen of my 365 Day Writing Project.
I haven’t posted here in several days. I got sidetracked with other writing but I have also been going to bed earlier than usual to try to shake this sickness I have had for three weeks. While I have managed to still work on my book, I have fallen off a bit from my usual progress. I actually started writing something else a few days ago. I feel like I’m just messing around at this point, but it was something that was screaming in my head and I just had to let it out.
Which leaves me wondering, do I have the ability to write two books at the same time? Many writers have more than one work in progress at a time. With my day job and life in general, I feel like I am maxed out most days. Working on more than one piece of writing strikes me as crazy right now but I guess I’ll see where things take me. If I feel compelled to work on this new piece of writing, I’ll go for it. But I want to keep focused on my book and continue the rewriting phase after the first draft. I have a lot of work to do and I want to continue moving forward. As long as I do that, even if progress slows down, getting sidetracked with other writing once in a while is okay.