Sunday, 6 March 2011

Revision burn-out

One of my Goals for 2011 (which I haven't really specified in my Goals list, actually...guess I should rectify that!) is to get through latest edit of SUNDOWN and chop the word count. I've been keeping track of my revisions for a while in this blog, and you can see the entries that made reference to them here. But to summarise, my first draft (as opposed to the rough draft I had at the end of NaNo' 2009) was 147k, and right now I'm at 108k. This is good, but I still have work to do.

Everything was going pretty smoothly. I removed entire chapters, which was a very good start. Then I kept finding whole chunks (or even just a paragraph or sentence here and there) to cut. I was feeling good, even though I knew I had a lot of work to do in future - there were certain scenes I wasn't satisfied with, and I knew early on I would be rewriting them eventually. But instead of keeping going with what I had been doing - the slow and steady stripping of glaringly unnecessary words/sentences/paragraphs - I decided last week sometime that I was ready to dive right into the rewriting part. Cue the slight problem I mentioned recently, and a whole lot of chaos.

Currently I feel like I'm in a revision slump, the kind where staring at the wall seems like it's going to be more productive than actually trying to revise anything. Maybe I've tried to do too many things at once? Let's list the things I've been doing, shall we?
  • Working on opening chapters, which have been stripped back so far that they are now lacking a bit of necessary meat
  • Removing entire chunks out of the middle of the novel, and working on filling the resultant holes
  • Working new stuff into the novel either in the beginning or in the middle or somewhere else, and then having to work that new stuff in right throughout the novel, because otherwise it just suddenly appears (or disappears) with no explanation
  • Throwing out all sorts of stuff with those opening/middle chapters which now has loose-end references elsewhere in the manuscript; loose ends that must be tied up again!
In short, I think what I've got here is a bit or revision burnout!

Tempting though it is to just forget this WIP for the time being and fixate on something else, I'd really rather keep going with this one and get it ready for some beta attention. It is my dream to have at least one piece of work ready for that. But this novel is the closest to it, and it's still so very far off!

P.S. I put a little Spotlight...errr, the top right-hand corner of my blog (below the page tabs), and in there right now is this entry from Anny Cook titled Potato Love. If you haven't seen it yet, you should - it is extremely cute. :)


  1. You're still doing better than me! I keep *adding* words, somehow :-(

  2. Trisha, I'm right there with ya. My rough draft was a monster at 143k word, and like you I've already chopped a significant amount. There's still much more to do, and now I'm hitting that point where I'm wondering if I'm a good editor. I've never really done this before. It's kind of nerve-wracking really.

    And what makes it even scarier? I've only gotten through the first 1/4 of the book. EEK! So much more work to do, and I'm so overwhelmed.

  3. I'm not even doing that well. My wip needs the whip. ; ) I'm just trying to make my MC behave in the front like she needs to so that the back end is understandable. Ach! You nailed it--why I hate revision.

  4. Been there. Sometimes it helps to let yourself take a mini-break.

  5. If you really do have a burnout, I'd agree and say just rest for a bit. :) Just because you feel like you aren't doing much doesn't mean you're unproductive. Your changes could be to something you just can't see, but it's for the best.

  6. Well, I got a bit more done last night, rewrote chapter 5 and am much happier with it. I'm still not happy with chapter 3/4 though, and I've opted to leave those behind for now. Hehe.

  7. Sometimes taking a brief break is the right thing. It's not abandoning a project; its collecting new ideas. Or, letting the older ones stew.

    Sometimes, you can't actually see whats there if you stare at it for too long.

    Sounds like you really know what is best for yourself as a writer though.


  8. Good luck! I wish I could give advice, but there's nothing to do except to stick through it.


  9. I'm starting to get burntout on revisions too, but I just take it chapter by chapter, scene by scene. If I try to work all over the novel I get confused. So I fix the first chapter, then move on in order. Usually by the time I make it through a few chapters I have to go back and tweak the earlier chapters, though, so I haven't made it out of the first 7 chapters yet :P

    Good luck with the rest of your revisions!

  10. @stickynotesstories - yeah, I was in the middle (well, end of the first 3rd or so) and I was getting I Just went back to the beginning ;) It helped, but there are still chapters I get to and think to myself, "SIGH, I have to rewrite this whoooole scene." And then I have to let it sit for a while to work up to that rewriting.

    Thanks Donna and Misha for your comments :D


Thanks for your words, me hearties! and don't forget to leave a link to your blog somewhere I can find it!