I have shifted this month from novel-writing to editing my e-book of time management strategies. My first edition of the book was organized in a way that I have decided was not as effective as it should be, especially in e-book format, so I’ve changed the structure and focus considerably for what will be a second edition. I’m nearing the end of my second draft of this re-vision. I am itching to publish the updated version, but I know I need to be patient and work through this book several more times to see what could be improved. Still, I am making progress.
One pleasant effect of revising a book of time management strategies is that it reminds me to “walk the walk,” and I wind up using my time a bit better. On the other hand, December is a tough month. The holidays bring more activities and events, not to mention schedule changes. Snow days can mean the kids are home from school, which usually upends my plans for the day. It seems almost an exercise in irony to spend this month writing about how to boost productivity.
Then again, time management is not about living a perfect life. It’s just about expanding the possibilities.
Just wanted to report on my progress on the revision. I finished the over-700-page (!!) Douglass biography this week and took some notes that may be helpful in thinking about my novel, plus a few that I may blog about later.
I make steady progress when I set to work on the novel revision, but I did catch myself putting it off, too. There was an article I quite liked on NY Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/smarter-living/why-you-procrastinate-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-self-control.html that suggests if you manage your mood about a specific task, you are more likely to complete it. So I spent a little time asking myself what may have affected my mood about this revision because overall, I have been interested in seeing what emerges by shifting Point Of View.
I realized that I have FOMU—fear of messing up. As much as I am inspired by this idea to revise and re-vision how this book should unfold, I can’t shake the fear that I am going to mess it up. In some ways, that fear is hard to counter because while I don’t think I am going to mess it up, I can’t guarantee I won’t. I can’t guarantee that what I am writing now works, so how can I guarantee that this revision will work? The best I can do is to remind myself that I write not to achieve writing success, as pleasant as that might be. I write because I love to write. And if I love to write, why not see where this revision might lead?
I am surprised, again, to find I am making progress on the revision. On days when I have more time to write, this revision is my top priority. On days crowded with work and family commitments, I still take a few minutes to consider where I am and where I am going with this revision, which tends to help me stay on track.
One surprise is that I am getting fresh ideas for this novel, new scenes or glimpses into characters, even after so much work on previous plans and drafts. Revising the novel to one limited point of view has sparked most of the fresh ideas, including filling in some (likely) missing details.
Of course, I have had the experience in past revisions of generating a new idea, description or detail that I integrate somewhere in the text, only to cut that exact line mercilessly during the editing process. So I do not know right now if these new ideas are flowers or weeds :). Nonetheless, I learn even from what I cut.
I am amazed to find myself making progress. I know I said in the last post that if I can get started, things usually work out. The problem is I never believe things will work out, one reason starting is so hard.
I admit some of what I am doing is easier thanks to the writing app Scrivener, which allows me to rearrange, categorize, and annotate the existing scenes. I don’t think I would try undertaking such a revision without it. Of course, it helps that I’ve had a lot of practice with this app, and I’m a sucker for trying out different kinds of software, something that some writers do not enjoy.
So far, I am not overwhelmed by the endlessness of the work ahead, as I was last time I revised. I am not sure if that’s because I am in denial or because I am, well, used to revising this novel. One difference, perhaps, is that I am focused on the goal of Better, rather than the goal of Done.
After gathering some encouraging and helpful feedback on my novel and engaging in extensive research into the query process, I have decided it’s time to revise, not query. It was an easy decision to make because the only part of the writing process I dread more than revising is submitting my work. So it’s a win-win.
I have decided to use this blog as an accountability partner for me to report periodically on my progress, just in case I lose momentum. I am hoping I won’t. It is starting that is hardest for me, not the actual work. Before I start revising, I tend to view it as not writing and therefore not good. Once I get moving, I remember that revising IS writing, and it can be quite joyful. Or it will inspire me to make a fresh pot of coffee. Again, win-win.
My revision goals:
1. Shift from three storylines/protagonists to one. I think this will make the book more accessible to readers. It will also make it easier to query and find comps.
2. Commit to writing the book only in third person limited and past tense. The current version is more experimental, switching not just between p.o.v. but also tense. That was very fun for me as the writer, but might not be so fun for a reader, and at some point, I have to let the reader win.
3. Identify and, if necessary, tighten the arc of each scene.
Those are changes I believe I can make. With luck, I will find other ways to strengthen this novel in the process.