Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Perfectionist Revises, Part One

We've been highlighting revision this month, and TBA client Alexandra Stewart was inspired by this post and this post, to think about her own process.  She shared her thoughts with us, along with this wonderful piece (which you can also see at her blog here).

I should start by saying I’m a neat freak, so when I receive an editorial letter from my super smart agent, my immediate reaction is filled with anxiety. I don’t like when things are messy and I want to hide all of this messiness in the bottom of a trashcan. Honestly, I picture throwing my manuscript into my blue recycling bin and never looking at it again.

This, as it turns out, is my work as a writer. To see that mistakes aren’t really mistakes, instead they are indicators of where I can dig deeper.

However, as I begin to dig deeper, I feel vulnerable and because I feel vulnerable, I have a tendency to rush through a rewrite. I cut out entire scenes with one swipe of the delete key and I quickly write new scenes just to fill the missing space. This technique does not work for me! When I rush, I end up with a story that is hollow.

So how do I keep from rushing? The moment I get an editorial letter, I remind myself I’m grateful for the feedback. Then I step away from the computer. I let myself feel uncomfortable. And, I wait. I do not go anywhere near my manuscript! During this waiting period, which usually takes a few days, the notes begin to move from my head and into my heart.

Here are a few things I tell myself while I’m waiting.

I will listen.

I will trust my process.

I will not throw my manuscript in the trash.

I also have this sentence tacked above my desk. I look at it everyday.

There are discoveries I haven’t made yet.

Find Alexandra on twitter here!

1 comment:

  1. Great insights! Leraning is painful and at times scary, but I always find my work is better for it and I clearly hear you saying the same. I loved when you said, "the notes begin to move from my head and into my heart." Feels...How true that is...

    Thanks so much for sharing and being vulnerable with this process...