I have only recently figured out that a good part of the reason I have yet to finish one of my novels is because if I finish the first draft, I will actually have to figure out how to edit the thing. Now one would think that knowing this is an issue would be a big part of overcoming the fear and doing something to fix the problem. Yes, I am willing and able to admit it IS a problem.
I felt marginally better after hearing the keynote speaker at a recent writer’s conference acknowledge that it is a common problem among writers. He said it was kind of like while you are writing the book, writing is your job, so when you finish it is like losing your job or being fired. Once you finish the book, you have to tackle a new job, that of being an editor. Hopefully, an editor who will finish revising the first draft into something worth reading. It is a huge commitment.
So, now that it is almost April, it is time to figure out what project I want to tackle for Camp NaNoWriMo. The nice thing about camp is that you can choose your own goal and one of the things you can choose is to edit a previously written manuscript. So, I am planning to tackle overcoming the fear and seeing how much progress I can make on revising one or two of my partially written novels.
I have started/written six books in five different genres since November 1, 2013. Yes, I am still experimenting trying to figure out what works best for me. No, I still haven’t found my writing niche. I have written one book twice using just the characters and the basic ideas and setting from the first version of the book. I consider the second version to be the second draft. I know the first version I wrote is almost entirely crap because I had no idea at all how to plot or write fiction.
So I recently took the plunge and picked two of my books to print out, read through and revise during April. No, I don’t expect to get either one completely revised in the 30 days, but I want to have options. The options may be good for times when one of the books is just making me crazy and so I can switch to the other.
Book 1 is the first NaNoWriMo novel I wrote in November 2013 and the working title at this point is, “The Roller Coaster We Call Parenting”. It is creative non-fiction and basically a parenting memoir. When I compiled it I used only half inch margins so it printed out at 116 pages double spaced.
Book 2 is draft two of the novel I tried writing in November of 2014 and wrote the second draft of in November 2016. The novel is inspirational fiction mystery, has one-inch margins and printed out at 177 pages. It is the first of seven books planned in the Crafty Ladies Series, this one being “Marni’s Story”.
I chose these books because I feel like they might be in the best shape of any I have begun writing thus far and this alone might keep me focused on the revision process instead of giving up before I finish. In November 2015, I wrote “Lu Ann’s Story” another book in the Crafty Ladies Series, but this one was written as an inspirational fiction romance. During Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2016, I started writing an inspirational historical fiction novel, but only got about thirty thousand words into that one, so it is the least ready for revisions at this point. In case you are keeping track and realized that was only five books, I have also written a non-fiction book about how to use Excel. I have begun revising it and it doesn’t need that much more work so wasn’t enough to tackle for a Camp NaNoWriMo project. Maybe that can be option three and the one that actually makes me feel like I am getting something done if I finish the first round of revisions on it.
So my actual goal for April 2017 is to spend an hour a day or thirty hours total for the month reading through and revising one or both of the books I have printed out. I may also compile and print out the others just so I have them in case all the electronic backups somehow fail me. Oh man, that didn’t sound at all paranoid now, did it?
If any of you have any great tips, tricks or advice for how exactly one goes about revising a novel, PLEASE comment or email me and do share. I have read a few craft books on the topic, watched countless videos on YouTube by others who have done this, but still feel somewhat unprepared to actually tackle this job as editor. I do know enough to know they are a hot mess and nowhere near ready for anyone else’s eyes yet, so tackle them I will, because in 2017 I am doing everything I can to be FEARLESS.