Final Revision Push

I’m up to my eyeballs right now trying to get the latest draft of my next book (DON’T GO TO SLEEP) finished and off to my editor. It’s at times like these that I’m really reminded of just how much more work I end up doing on writing. When I’ve got an already busy schedule filled with things like “being a library director,” “being an active church member,” “being a present father and husband,” and “being a home owner,” tossing in a writing deadline is enough to make everything else feel like the wheels are about to fall off.

So what do I do when it’s crunch time like this?

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s best for me to avoid letting it get to here if at all possible. Writing when I’m under pressure is about as much fun as doing anything when you’re forced to. My escape mechanisms set in, and I start looking for excuses to do anything other than write. That, of course, doesn’t help me get any closer to actually getting the work done, and so I end up working much later in the day than I might have otherwise.

Take yesterday, for example. By the time I really found time to write, I was already home from work. No writing done before work. No writing done at lunch. And so all of it was waiting for me. I ended up writing three hours after an already long day. In a typical day, I write for around 45 minutes. The only good thing about this stage of the revision is that I know the plot and the characters and the setting very well, and I’m to the point where I know what I need to write. I just need to actually write it. So there’s no need for me to stare off into space and wonder what the characters might think or say, and I don’t have to worry about solving the actual plot problems. This is draft 3.5, meaning that I’ve already done three drafts of the book, and I’m doing a partial revision this time.

In this case, my writing group (rightly) pointed out that the climax I thought was so awesome . . . wasn’t. But through talking out what I wanted to get done, what was working, and what wasn’t, I came up with something that should fit the bill. But you can’t just rewrite a couple of chapters of the climax and make it work. You have to go back and tweak stuff that came before to make sure the climax is set up the right way. Find plot lines and details and alter them accordingly. Yesterday I was focused on adding a new scene from scratch and then significantly revising two other scenes. I got to that point and felt like I’d done a ton, but then I forced myself to push forward and add yet another new scene. I want this revision done and off to my editor next week. That’s already later than I wanted it to be.

It’s a good thing I already have a fair bit of experience writing books. If it had felt like this when I was starting out, I don’t know if I ever would have gotten through my first one.


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