Thursday, February 02, 2012

Three Reasons Why Revision Make Me Nervous

Photo Courtesy of BK Images
For those of you who have written novels and gone through the revision process, this might seem like a silly post.  Why on earth would revisions make a person nervous?

The answer (in my case) is threefold:

1.  It begins with my personality.  Besides the fact that being prone to anxiety runs in the Italian side of my family, I was informed several years ago by a colleague that I am an "external processor," rather than an "internal processor."  That means that I have to talk my thoughts out, often to another person, to give them form and structure.  (Thank God my husband is extremely patient.)

My problem is that I'm not to the point where I am ready to show any writer friends the manuscript, and my husband isn't versed in the craft of writing and revising fiction. I can't even use him as a beta-reader, because he hates reading in first-person.  This inability to really talk out my thoughts and concerns leaves me a little befuddled.  I can't seem to make a decision that I don't doubt.  Which leads to reason number two...

2.  I am no longer working on the first-draft.  That means I don't have permission anymore to make crap.   I am supposed to clean up the first draft "mess" and shine it and make it all better.  The problem?  I have never written a novel before.  I have never revised a novel before.  I must still rely on instinct as to the process of revising, as well as what I'm doing to "fix" my novel.  Which leads to reason number three...

3. Remember that risk post a couple of weeks back?  Well, I am stretching and growing, both as a writer and as a person. It feels uncomfortable.

The simple truth, though, is if I don't get going, I am going to fail.  I will still have the first draft of Finding Meara, as well as any number of other first drafts, waiting to be revised when I'm eighty.  I will never know if my work was publishable or not, because I didn't give it a chance, because I was too afraid to revise wrong.  How silly does that sound!

Last night, I decided to just dig in.  If I don't get the process "right" and it takes me forever, such is life.  If I don't get started, it's going to take me forever, anyway.  I might as well get on with it.  And who knows, maybe it will all turn out okay!

Which kind of "processor" do you think you are?  Is there anything about the revision process that makes you nervous?


  1. You are too cute. When I finally sent my first chapter to my crit partners, I was sick. Physically ill! It was ridiculous. You build up thick skin tho, and it helps to have someone eye your work. They always catch something I miss. You have to prep yourself with thick skin though and that can be hard, but eventually it's there. :) Keep working on it! I'm sure it's wonderful.

  2. I think you'll come to find revising actually really fun! And you really should send it out to some really good writer friends. I can't tell you how many times I opened up notes on a chapter and my mind was suddenly in 'Ah ha!' moment.

    And it's okay to talk it all out too. I do that :) In the shower, or in the car, or just sitting by myself in front of the computer. But also, with sending it to people, you're able to send them emails and get their opinions on things you're struggling with. Even if it's just an email that says, "I suck! Help me feel like I don't suck!" If you find the right people, they'll come back with more than 50 reasons why you don't suck.

    Hopefully this long comment made sense somewhere, lol. :)

    Oh! And if you caught my response to you on my comment thread today... Jaberwocky :)

    Love ya girl!

  3. I think it will turn out better than you expect!

  4. I agree with the lovely ladies. Send it out girlfriend. I guarantee it will help with the revision process. I'd be more than happy to take a look. Even just the first chapter. Give some advice. Some pointers. I'm by no means an expert but I find revisions so much fun.

    And like Cassie was saying, then you have someone to talk to about it. To run ideas by. I really think you're going to love it. Truly. :)

    It also gives validation. Because, yes, there are going to be parts that need work. I think I went through 15 revisions or so, no lie. But there are parts of your story that are awesome, I'm sure of it. And when others read it they will tell you.

    Feel free to send it my way if you're interested :)

  5. I understand how you feel, Lara. But the only way I learned how to write better was to listen to feedback with critique groups, friends, writers' contests, etc. It wasn't easy, but based on suggestions and lots of practice, I learned what worked for me, and if I felt my book needed it, I would then revise. I love brainstorming with friends or my sister because all these ideas get generated and it helps boost my creativity and thought process for plotting. For my first critique ever, with my first ever novel, I could have died when one of the ladies in the group took one look at my pages, turned a little green, and ran out of the room. Found out later she'd had a diabetic "episode." Hopefully it wasn't my stuff...

    Anyway, after a while you'll hit your stride with self-editing. The part I hate the worst is when I've done all feel I can with a manuscript and it's time to shop it around to editors, agents. Need an even thicker skin for that.

    But it'll all work out! Stay with it.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for all the wonderful support, both writerly and personal! I found it really funny because half-way through the first read-through I got very excited, and then when I got done, negative thinking ran rampant through my brain. I have been working on getting some of the "small stuff" fixed, and then move on to the bigger stuff.

    @Leigh - I definitely do want people to read over my work, because I know I have lost perspective on it. It does scare me, because no one has seen this one, but I think it's the only way to move forward. (Kind of like Cindy said :)

    Okay, Sarah, I'm going to believe you! I have been figuring out names for the people and places I just didn't take time to write in, and it has been kind of fun, although time consuming!

    Cassie - you are great as always. I think you're probably right - I don't necessarily have to have an audience to get the thoughts into order. Just the process of talking out-loud does seem to help!

    Thanks, Kelley, for offering assistance!

    Very funny, Cindy, about the diabetic critique-er! I am sure it wasn't your work, considering all I've read of it! Yes, I must keep moving forward.

  7. Lara, the little cat sure looks worried and nervous. Getting the first draft written is usually the hardest part. While rewriting can be hard work, I find that it is not as draining as the initial creative effort. Sometimes tasks seem daunting if we try to tackle too much at once. So my two cents is to focus on one chapter at a time. If each chapter can stand on its own merit, your book will shine.

    1. I thought the cat was cute! It's kind of how I was feeling at the moment. You are right, of course. That neurotic fear stuff is usually a poorly controlled over-reactive moment to some overwhelming stimulii. (How's that for therapy speak!) Just relax is great advice! I'm getting there!

  8. It's so very easy to get caught up in procrastinating for all the reasons you listed above, plus more! But the fact is you do have to start somewhere! There comes a point when the bullet must be bitten, for better or worse! Sounds like you've reached that point & are on track!

    1. I do find I want to procrastinate, but I'm starting to clamp down on myself. The next novel won't be so bad, because I'll have done it once. I tend to procrastinate when I'm feeling lost. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  9. I'm not quite at that stage, but I hear ya. I use morning pages for that kind of thought-vomit. It really helps. Because, if I talk too much about my WIP while I'm working on it, it damages my ability to actually write it. Don't know why. I'm actually looking forward to revisions though. It'll mean I'm that much closer to being done.

  10. It's pretty much all how you look at it, huh? I am a firm believer in the "attitude is everything", but in moments of insecurity, seem to forget the lesson! I can't write very well in the morning... I've tried and barely eek out 250 words in an hour, and that's when I'm on a roll. I wish I could! It's the perfect time.

  11. I am in the same boat when it comes to revision. I was completely confident to write the story but now that I'm in the revision phase, it's like my confidence has fled. Grrr!

    1. What IS that about?! I am hoping it's just because it's my first time editing, and any subsequent novels will not be quite as stressful. I won't know, though, until I write another novel. Which will be a while :)


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