I'd sing to my Work In Progress, "We are never, ever, ever, getting back together!"
I wondered if the colossal amount of time spent on this book was a colossal waste. Even though I knew writing time was never wasted, I thought my time on my book was the exception.
But contrary to the song, me and my manuscript are back together again and happier than ever. What changed? I began by asking myself these three questions:
- Do I love the story?
- Is it worth telling?
- Do I, as a reader, like reading it and think others will enjoy it, too?
I answered Yes to all three questions. So how did my manuscript and I mend our tumultuous relationship? Here's what worked for us:
Recognize problems and be open to solutions
Our gut tells us what isn't working. It's like the relationship therapist who helps us see what needs to change.
Once I recognized problem areas, I searched through my notes for old, unused ideas. I thought of new ideas. I asked for advice, received it, and didn't brush it aside. I read blog posts by Janice Hardy & Martina Boone with new interest, focusing on how that information would enhance my own work. Literally...I was open to anything.
Give it time
This is always a biggie for writers, and I had to re-test my patience. Like a petulant child, I wanted my solutions now.
My relationship-therapist-gut was on overdrive. I wanted to dump anything that frustrated me and write something new. But many times the good bones were there, I just needed to tweak this or that to make a scene more compelling. But when a scene needed to go, I had absolutely no problem cutting it. And once I'd written fresh scenes, I gave them time to marinate until I revised them.
Time. Time. Time.
Time. Time. Time.
Appreciate the good
Once I'd cut the blah and enhanced the good, my own work looked lovey-dovey again. There was plenty of quality in my story, I just had to chill out, be patient, and let my mind wander. Once I started actively searching for solutions and applying them to the manuscript, it no longer seemed like a colossal waste of time. Re-reading passages became a joy again, and I got that feeling. You know the one.
Have I been in this position before? Yep. See my post "Is your story worth saving?" Does my manuscript still need work? Yep. But now that we're back together again, I'm thankful I didn't give up on it. Our relationship is totally worth the hard work.
Have you ever wanted to break up with your manuscript? If you stayed together, what saved your relationship? Do you have any other revision advice you can share with us?
And just for fun, here's Taylor Swift's song that I sang to my manuscript in frustration: