Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Navel Gazing

Regular readers know that I'm currently editing my wip using Holly Lisle's One-Pass Manuscript Revision technique, and yeah, she warned that it would be hard. But just how hard, I had no idea.

I'm a tinkerer, I like to play with words, see how they look on the page, and navelgaze over it before moving to the next paragraph. The One-Pass method cuts the navelgazing to one, maybe two sessions. Then that's it. The writer's gotta move on. No going back, just forward.

It hurts, man. It hurts bad.

Holly's point, and I get it, is you might as well experience the pain of revision once instead of in a continual cycle of edits. The point of writing books is to write as good a book as you can at this moment, and then get going on another book. Keep producing books, don't keep rewriting the same book over and over.

My big fear, though, is writing one book, crappily. But I'm pressing onward. I'm two-thirds of the way through my edit, and I've learned a few things that I'd like to share:

1. Lay in a big supply of mechanical pencils and clean scrap paper.

You can't do proper revisions on the computer screen. You just can't. There's a big difference between seeing it on the screen and seeing it on paper. I don't know why, but there is. As you read through, start scribbling. I like mechanical pencils (the cheapies) because you can write tiny in the margins and erase as you go. The scrap paper is for when you dump a scene and rewrite it entirely. With your mechanical pencil.

2. Increase your budgeted writing time.

I usually write in the mornings before the workday starts, at 5 a.m. But I've added an extra half hour to my wake up so I can get through this m.s. edit more quickly. I've told myself that a little less sleep now will mean that I can get this done by the end of summer--my goal. Which leads to . . . .

3. Set a goal.

Give yourself a reasonable goal to accomplish your edit. Then stick to it. The point is to finish this book so you can get onto the next project.

4. Don't be a hack.

It's easy to slap down crap just to get the bloody thing done. But you're not just trying to finish a book, you're trying to finish a good book. So don't compromise your vision. Just don't navelgaze over a scene for days. Like I do.

Like I used to, I mean.


Blogger redchurch said...

"Just don't navelgaze over a scene for days. Like I do."


Sounds familiar. It's such a tricky balance, that "Getting things done!" mode and the "But I really want it to be good!"

Constant fighting forces within the writer. I wish there was an easier way, but sadly there isn't! It's just the price we pay...

10:25 AM  
Blogger Therese Walsh said...

Great post, Kath! :)

10:29 AM  

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