Revision can be a taxing process. Trust me: When am I not revising something? (Spoiler: The answer is I am in a perpetual state of revision.)
This month, I set out to finish revising the last 12 chapters of WIP Blessings that have been hanging over my head since January. And I did it! And it wasn’t terrible!
So how did I make editing over 30k in three weeks fun?
1. Print the sucker out
At some point in your revision process, you’re gonna need to print that baby out. (If you’re like me, you’ll probably print it several times.) You can do it all at once or by chapters as you go.
I personally like having the whole thing printed after my first draft is complete (or nearly complete). There’s something really satisfying about hefting a paper stack that weighs as much as a textbook and crying to the hills, “I CREATED THIS MONSTER, AND NOW I WILL DESTROY IT.”
Also: Fun Binders
Once you have your hard copy, you need somewhere to put it. So why not indulge in a nice binder? The picture to the left shows me with a binder I decorated myself, but you can also just get a regular fancy one (or… not fancy, if you’re boring).
It might be a good idea to get a hefty 3” binder for your complete book and a smaller binder to transport just a few chapters, so you aren’t always carrying that small textbook with you when you go out.
Also: Colorful Pens
Colorful pens are amazing. Not only do you get to go to a store and carefully select the pencil case and pen colors that are appropriate, but there is nothing more exciting than sitting down and selecting the pens you will use on a particular day. I’m not crazy, award winning author David Almond agrees with me!
On a given editing day, I like to pick two colors, depending on my mood. I use one to make general notes (“add more foreshadowing of the flood”) and one to make actual word/punctuation changes.
I also like to keep colored highlighters handy. In one section, I went through and highlighted every time a particular character said something about his backstory. So helpful for catching repeated information!
2. Find a friend
Get a critique partner or beta reader. I can’t tell you how much my CPs inspire me to push through the muck (not to mention how much easier it is to find a way out of the muck with their help). Exchanging chapters on a regular basis also helps you keep moving forward in your edits.
I love Ladies Who Critique (I’ve found two excellent CPs there), but there’s also Writer’s Water Cooler, Miss Snark’s First Victim Dating Service (yearly event), NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo, and countless other writing forums online and (gasp) in real life.
3. Visualize your characters
Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person, but there’s something important about actually seeing my characters. When I’m in the depths of revision, I can get bogged down in the nitty gritty of sentence structure, and lose the enthusiasm I had for my characters. Visualizing them helps me get excited again.
I’ve started pulling out my sketchbook and nice pencils whenever I watch a TV show/movie. I’ll select some pictures from my Pinterest Board for drawing and just doodle for an hour or so. It helps me contemplate my characters and develop my drawing skills, which is something I’ve wanted to do since forever. It’s also really relaxing!
If you don’t have any desire to draw (or even if you do), DollDivine and Azaelea’s Dress-up Dolls can fulfill your need to be artistic. I find these really helpful when I need to imagine a minor character, particularly when I’m trying to make my redshirts more real.
Another option is to go to your Pinterest/Tumblr archive of inspirational images and turn them into a desktop collage. I have quite a few of those myself.
4. Use your novel journal
As you revise, keep track of any big changes or questions in your novel journal—with your colorful pens, of course. You can also use this to make checklists for your chapters, so you’re not holding all your revision notes in your head.
While maybe not as fun as some of the other suggestions, this one can help preserve your sanity. Plus, it’s another opportunity to bust out those colorful pens!
5. Make another playlist
Doubtless, you’ve already made a playlist for your writing. But now you have a finished draft—and you’ve probably acquired some new songs! So take some chill time and organize it into a new playlist. (Example: I took the combination of wanderlust and angst songs I’d be acquiring and made Anchor & Sky.)
I hope these tips help you in your revision journey!