Thursday, June 27, 2013

Revision Series: Setting Up Camp

So, my twitter buddy, Trisha Schmidt (@seeredwrite), suggested I talk a little about my editing/revision process because she's interested in how others handle this. Because I have a short attention span, and I don’t like reading long blog entries, I am going to post this as a series of blogs over the next few days. So keep checking back!

Why I feel like I can discuss the revision process:
I am not an expert on revision, but I have to say my workshop this week, which was of a revised chapter that has been previously work-shopped at varying stages (the first being unrecognizable when comparing to the last) in FIVE separate classrooms. That’s right, five. Four different teachers, two different educational establishments. All in all, I believe that the transformation of this piece has been amazing (so maybe I’m propping myself up here, but I’m proud!) Some of the comments I got from students who read my piece in previous workshops still have me smiling, and most important to me was my teacher’s comment saying that I’ve found the opening of my novel. This is not to say that it’s done and ready, it still needs some edits, but this meant A LOT to me.

Anyway, all of this is to say I do have experience with revision. And what I can say right off the bat is that there is no set process, everyone has their own way. You have to figure out what works for you.

Setting Up Camp:
Here is how I generally get set up for a day of revision (this can also apply to writing for the day as well).
  • Sit in the car on a drive to the shore (because that is the only place I can get work done - my recommendation, for writing or editing, find a place that you love to write in).
  • On the drive (I get my best ideas in the car, in the shower, and right before I fall asleep), watch your book in your head. See if you can watch the scenes clearly. This is a fun way for me to write new scenes too. If I have good ideas, I jot them down or text key words to myself that will remind me of the idea.
  • Once in my "zen place," I sit down, open up the file that I want to work on. No distractions. No TV. No music. No people or pets.
  • Then, I open up Twitter...or Facebook...or my e-mail...or real estate websites....or websites about horses...or websites about dogs....or my pictures/video from the Taylor Swift concert we went to...or a youtube video of a horse cantering where the rider almost falls....oh how traumatic watching that video was. I must take a break...So I watch an episode of VEEP on HBO go (since I don’t have a TV because I was avoiding distractions).... Already on the iPad, I switch over to a game of Matching with Friends, while you’re at it, you might as well check Hanging, Words, Scramble, and Gems with Friends too, I tell myself. 
  • Then I realize several hours have passed and it’s 2am...and I should go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day.
  • Next day. Get up. Make some coffee (very important step). Get back in my "zen place," open up the file. Sign on twitter. Announce to everyone that I’m revising because I am an attention hog and need twitter cheerleaders. Oh no! You just told 4500 people you’re revising. You better do something!
  • Now it's time to get down to work.
Sadly, though I’m taking a stab at being comical, the above is typically how it goes when I set out to revise. Until I give myself some pressure - ie: announcing things on twitter (which, let’s be honest, nobody cares if I’m revising or not, it's really for yourself, but it helps when your buddies jump in and say something like 'good job!' or 'me too!'), again, until I have that pressure, I don't usually get anything done.

However obvious the following items are, I guess what I'm trying to say with this entry is that revision or writing in general, I suggest the following:

  1. Find a place that makes you write - Be it a quiet coffee shop, your basement, a park, the beach, wherever you feel best.
  2. Find some sort of pressure that keep you working- Deadlines. Social network announcements. Time yourself. In writing this bullet point, I realized I can do a whole blog on creating pressure for yourself, so check back for this one!
  3. Figure out a way to eliminate distractions. For me? I have to be away from a television set and the internet...thankfully, I have this nifty little button on my computer where I can turn the wi-fi off. It helps. Have it? Use it. 
So there. You're ready to get started. In my next entry I will talk more about the actual revision process. Thanks for reading!


  1. I hear you on "eliminate distractions." I'm the worst when it comes to checking email or Facebook or Twitter or blogs when I should be writing. I have to turn off the wifi on my computer.

  2. That little wi-fi shut off is one of the best things on a laptop! :) Thanks for reading!


Ways to follow