Every writer wishes that their piece could be perfect. We delete, we re-write, we cut, we paste. I see it as part of “the Circle of Life” for writing. It is essential to creating a well-rounded, thought-out piece of art. But when you spend hours upon hours revising a chapter of your novel or story, when is enough… enough? At what point do you set aside your computer and beam with satisfaction with what you’ve achieved?
The truth is that your writing is never finished. No matter how many times you go over your piece, your future self will always find a reason to change something about it, whether it be simply tweaking a word or changing an entire paragraph. With this in mind, you must know that you will never be completely satisfied. You must be happy with your present best.
Undoubtedly, revising can prevent you from moving on with your story or work. I myself am a huge grammar advocate; therefore, I always find revision to be the longest part of my writing process. At one point I’ve found myself spending hours simply perfecting a single scene in a short story. However, if you follow the following steps, you just might be able to prevent yourself from falling into the revision abyss:
- Once you finish a section of your piece, set it aside immediately. Yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief and revel in your accomplishment, but do not succumb to the allure of immediate revision. Save your document and close your laptop; walk away from your piece. My English teacher always said that a proper revision session only happens when the writer walks away and does not revisit his/her work for at least a day. This technique gives you, as the author, a fresh new look at your piece and limits the amount of mistakes you will miss while reading.
- When the day has passed, come back to your piece. Read through it and correct any and all grammar and spelling mistakes. However, restrain yourself from completely changing sentences, paragraphs, or key aspects of the piece. To help with this task, you can write down any ideas you have in a notebook if you wish to turn your story in a different direction. Walk away from your piece again for a day.
- When you finally get back to your piece and you still wish to change key aspects of it, ask yourself these questions: Will these changes make my story better? Will they cause further complications? Will they make me feel more confident in my piece? If you are satisfied with your answers, you may change certain parts of the story, but be sure that you are doing it for the greater good of the piece.
- Move on to the next section of your work and do not look back until you are completely finished!
Revising is an easy part of the writing process to get lost in. Use these tips to guide yourself through the dark.