Crap, Crap, Everywhere: How to Find Perspective When You Think the Pages Stink

Yep, I’m still in revisions. And this post is late today (sorry about that!).

I’m at the point where it feels like revisions will never, ever end and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was turned off last Tuesday. Or maybe back in December …

Anyhoo, I’ve been going through my pages making notes for yet another round of revisions, and frankly, things are worse than I thought. And when that sort of thing happens – especially when you’ve been working on the same piece for too darned long – it can lead to a slippery “everything sucks” path. Yes, I’ve been there. Many of us have been.

So, how to avoid that slippery-nastiness and stay high and dry on your quest for an awesome rewrite? Here are my five tips to find perspective:

  1. Have someone else look at it.  Sometimes, we’ve read our own words so often that they literally blur before our eyes. That’s where critique partners and groups come in. Polish the pages as well as you can fairly quickly, then send them out.  This gives you distance and time away while they’re in someone else’s hands, and when you get back, you may find out things aren’t as bad as you thought.
  2. Step away from the pages … Yes, I mean you. Leave them the heck alone! Other times, leave the darned thing alone for a little while. If you’re stuck on a particular scene or chapter, beating your head against the same wall day after day will give you a headache. Instead, leave it be and let your sub-conscious stew on things for a day or two, maybe longer. Who knows what it will come up with (though I’m hoping for something awesome.)
  3. Work on something else. Like the first two sections, this is to give you some distance away from the stories, away from the same words you’ve looked at too many times, poked and prodded to no avail. Instead, work on something else – another novel, plotting, flash fiction, maybe non-writing – anything to get your mind flowing out of the stuck-in-peanut-butter section, and towards something more positive and productive.
  4. Remember to highlight the positive as well as negative. If you critique for others, I certainly hope you don’t just point out everything you don’t like about a piece, since that’s a big downer. So remember to point out the bits that you do like, too, and give yourself the same kind of critique you give others.  Remind yourself what is working… and hopefully those sections can survive the revision and get even stronger.
  5. Be nice to you. Yes, let out the annoying inner-editor, but don’t get flayed alive. There will be parts that will suck. A lot. But it can get better, too. You will become a better writer. The scenes will get stronger. So while you’re making note of problems, suggest possible solutions to yourself – just as you would to a critique partner – and try to make your rewrites easier and less painful.

So, was that helpful? How do you make it through revisions, especially a tough revision? Have I missed anything important?

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Thanks for reading, and have a great week. As for me, back to work!

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