Sunday, January 13, 2008

Revising on the brain

I've always claimed that revising is the hardest part of writing for me, that I'd rather push on to a new idea than do the more tricky work that real revising entails. But for the past half a year or more I've been really focusing hard on revisions--not just my novel, though that's a big part of it, but also on short stories, trying to develop the discipline to push them up that next notch instead of considering them good enough.

And now...writing anything new has been the challenge. Over the past few weeks I've been trying to get back into writing some new stories, some that were fragments I'd started in the past and realized were ready to be written, and some completely new. I'm still doing revisions too--reading through the entire novel at a faster pace, trying to catch any inconsistencies in descriptions and especially time of year references...and as I do that, polishing up things wording things I might have missed in the recent more thorough rewriting. So I frequently have one chapter of that open as well as one document for new writing. That's usually worked fairly well for me in the past, but I find myself bringing up the revising instead of the new writing, something I never would have expected a year ago.

A big part of it, I think, is that the inner editor has been given extensive rein during the revising process, and it's hard to turn that off now as I sit to write. So I agonize over the sentences like I used to several years ago. I question the entire story, second guess my choices, worry about wording and style--all things that are valuable in the revision stage, but need to be pulled back some now. I've typically ended up with fairly polished rough drafts because that's always been a part of how I typically write, but it's become overwhelming recently. There's always a point where you just have to let yourself write and not analyze too critically, and I'm at that point now. We'll see if I can do it.

3 comments:

Lion said...

Bwahahaha, misery loves com--I mean, oh, that's too bad.

I kid. But I don't think an over-editing phase is a terrible thing as long as you can crawl out of it... it might help to make certain things you would usually have to edit in come naturally.

I think ruts are not uncommon. I took a semester of poetry instead of fiction once, and the saturation of it completely ruined my ability to write fiction for the whole /next/ semester in which I was taking fiction again.

Barbara A. Barnett said...

I suggest plying your internal editor with alcohol. When he's passed out on the floor, you can write to your heart's content...unless your internal editor can out-drink you, in which case you're back to square one.

Daniel Ausema said...

Hmmm, alcohol. Haven't tried that one. I have no idea of my inner editor's alcohol tolerance...

Yeah, going through cycles of what's going well and what's not isn't surprising or alarming...but it's certainly been frustrating at times. I did get a fair bit written yesterday and this morning though.