I am in need of support group! Not Overeaters Anonymous (although on this blog I’ve talked about the similarities I’ve encountered on my weight loss journey and my writing journey several times) but in this case I am in need of the wisdom and courage of my fellow writers, and a place where we can share.
Do any of you know where there is a meeting of Over-Editing Anonymous?
Some will hate me when I say this, but I love to revise. As long as I have words on the page, I can usually sit my butt down and work -- sometimes for hours. I think this has to do with my fixer personality. I am a problem-solver. Give me something to work with and my brain spins into gear.
Give me the blank page, or the need to complete a first draft and... well, it’s not a pretty picture.
You may not think this is a problem, but as with any
obsession habit, it certainly can be. For instance, I recently have taken to writing shorts and children’s picture books just so it’s easier for me to revise. Every sentence, phrase and even word -- sometimes multiple times. And then, I still have trouble stopping.
Every day I learn some nugget of wisdom on blogs, newsletters, chats and workshops regarding the craft of writing. I am constantly learning, which is a good thing, but then I feel the need to apply this new nugget. I am not necessarily looking for perfection but rather reading more work and saying, it could be better. That’s likely another piece of my personality, the never-quite-good-enough piece. How many revision are enough? When do you call it quits and submit?
I started a revision of my first manuscript, a 100,000 word novel and I knew going in that I wanted to edit and rewrite, applying much of the wisdom I’ve learned since writing this story. Some scenes are turning out better, but yesterday, after spending several hours on a rewrite the day before, I read the original scene and realized it was better than the new scene, needing only minor tweaking.
So you see it can be a big problem. I need OA. Or at the very least a workshop geared to knowing when to quit revising and submit.
For now, I’ve found deadlines are my
coping mechanism tool. Real ones, like a contest deadline, or my own imaginary deadlines. I call it - The Suck it Up, and Submit, even though it’s only been through 14 revisions. Or another favorite self-imposed deadline - Step Away From the Keyboard and Send it Already.
Another strategy I’ve learned but don’t apply enough is printing out the draft, revising on paper. Part of this is the waste of ink and paper, but seriously I need to tell myself, that’s better than the more precious commodity, my work hours and possibly my sanity. Reading from paper, helps me to step back and look at the words at a distance -- more objectively. If I simply open the document on the computer I start to revise and revise and revise without reading the whole scene, or chapter or piece.
So for now, I’ll keep working my program toward recovery.
Maybe some of you have other wiser ideas or advise on how to deal with the over-editing dilemma. I am all ears and ready to try almost anything. Feel free to comment.