Monday, December 1, 2014

Tackling that Revision

Happy Monday!

We are in DECEMBER! I'll give you a minute to freak out about that.

We've also reached the end of NaNoWriMo. If you won: GOLD STAR FOR YOU. If you participated, but didn't quite reach 50k: GOLD STAR FOR YOU. Because you got words on the page. And even if it wasn't 50k words, it's more than you had on October 31st. That's something to be darn proud of.

Now, if you DID reach 50k, or even reached the end of your novel, you're solid, right? Eh. Maybe. Maybe not. It kind of irks me when people scream DON'T YOU DARE THINK YOU'RE FINISHED. More than likely, you're not. Generally speaking, first drafts are for getting the words out. Revision is turning those words into what you dreamed they would be.

In December 2013, I started what would become my biggest revision project yet (helloooo, my precious PLAY ON). And while it was most definitely hard work, I ended up with a book that I am so very proud of. I'm no expert, but I do have a few tips on how to tackle a major revision.

Be open to change.

This is the number one step. If you’re not ready to change anything, then you’re probably not ready to revise. Finishing your draft is awesome! But revision is where the magic happens. If you don’t think you need to change anything in your first draft, I suggest letting your manuscript sit for at least a week or so--heck, come back to that baby after the holidays, if need-be. When you return with fresh eyes, you may be surprised at the things you find.

Know what needs to be done.

When I get notes from my CPs/agent/editor, the first thing I do is make a list of each issue that needs addressing. This way, I can check them off as I go.

Make an attack plan.

This is where outlining comes in handy. It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn-out, 10-page outline. Simply jotting down main plot points can be super helpful. The point here is that you need to know where you're going.

Have a support system. And chocolate. And pie.

There may be tears. And that's okay. This writing stuff gets tough. Sometimes, you just need someone else to tell you that you CAN do this, even if you don't believe it yourself. Trust me.

Embrace the "mental health days."

We’re not robots. We have brains and bodies that need rest. Burnout is a real thing that sucks. I, for one, love my mental health days. If you need a night of Netflix and brownies, go for it. Your MS will wait for you.

Be patient with yourself.

Again, it's tough. And the first round of revisions may not be "it." You may need two rounds. Three. Seven. But once you're holding a manuscript that's everything you'd hoped it would be, all the work is so, so worth it.


  1. Thanks for the great advice, Michelle! I'm tackling my NaNo ms this month and all of these tips are wonderful. :)

  2. These are great tips. I did not reach my NaNo Goal, but I wrote faster than I normally do so I still consider it a huge success.:)