The First Step of Revising is Stepping Away

best writing coaches Carrie Jones

That’s right. The first step of revising is stepping away from that novel with your hands up and eyes focused on something else.

It should be easy.

It is often not easy.

The brilliant novelist, Tracey Baptiste, writes:

[Think] of the time you take away from a manuscript as an investment in your craft, rather than a delay in seeing your title in print. If you wait to do your best work, you will faster get an agent or editor. If you don’t, you’ll be wasting time in a slush pile anyway.”

Over on the Creative Penn, they write:

“In the immediate aftermath of typing those magical words THE END, you’re not likely to be in a good place to objectively evaluate your work. You might be fired up and ready to charge ahead, but you’re too close to what you’ve just written.

“You’re still in love with your fine word flourishes, your lovable but unnecessary characters, your plot device that bogs everything down but just makes you so happy. But in the revision process, it’s critical to look at your novel from the perspective of a reader who knows nothing about you, your story, or how hard you’ve worked to bring your characters to life.

“By tucking the manuscript away and returning to it after a few weeks or even a few months, you’ll give yourself the time and space to withdraw emotionally from what you’ve just written. This will make you a more objective reader, and will put you in a better place to critically evaluate your work.”

Stepping away from the novel allows your brain to chill out and not be too intensely emotional. The distance allows you to use your logical, puzzle-figuring out brain to take over when you go back. It’s like sleeping on a problem, but for a couple of weeks, not just nights.

Steven Handel wrote an article called “The Art of Taking a Step Back” and he wasn’t writing it about authors, but it absolutely applies.

“Metaphorically, taking a “step back” can help us re-direct the paths we choose in life as well, whether it’s in our career, relationships, health, habits, or personal goals.

“The ability to take a “step back” actually gives us freedom. It means we aren’t chained to our current choices in life, and we have the power to reevaluate and make a change.”

And stepping back also lets you enjoy the process. In our rush-rush-rush to completion, we tend to miss the joy of the act of writing, the creative flow, of problem solving.

Life is fast. Enjoy the parts of it that you enjoy and writing should be a part that you enjoy.

This week I’ll be talking a bit about revising, which is what we’re talking about in my online classes too. I hope it helps! Remember to have fun, okay?

Resources:

https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/10/05/9-steps-revising-your-novel/

https://www.theemotionmachine.com/the-art-of-taking-a-step-back/#:~:text=A%20%E2%80%9Cstep%20back%E2%80%9D%20allows%20you,can%20override%20our%20better%20judgment

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Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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