Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Importance of Waiting Before You Revise

It has taken me years to actually do what the title of the blog post says.

Writer Anita of 10 years ago: OMG. I just finished writing a book. An ENTIRE book! Revise? Huh? Nah. My writing teacher said it's good. *as I print out copies and snail mail to every publisher on the planet*

Writer Anita of 5 years ago: I just finished writing a book! I have to fix it! NOW. There's no point in waiting four to six weeks before diving in revisions. What if the world runs out of agents because I took too long to revise my book?!? What? You say I need fresh eyes? Dude, my eyes are so fresh.

Writer Anita of the Present: I finished writing a book! Yay! Celebrate with cookies. Forget about manuscript for at least a month. Send it out to my trusty critique buddies. To keep my mind off of marinading novel, I read all those books I didn't have time to read while I was writing. Then after four to six weeks, I read a hard copy of my novel. Mark up my own edits. Then take a look at critique buddies' comments and see what's similar and what's different. And THEN I dive into revisions.

Why is it so important to wait before revising?

1. It's true. You need to look at your novel with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. Distancing yourself from the world and characters of your novel are only going to help you later truly figure out how to make everything shine. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?

2. What's the hurry? The publishing industry is SLOW. And it's seasonal. Even if you snag that super star agent, you might have to wait before you go on submissions because it's just not the right time to send your book out. And when you're book is on submission with a publisher, it may take weeks, or months. I have a writer friend who's book sold after being on submission for eighteen months!

3. Revision is a step wise process and can not be rushed. It's more than just checking for typos and making sure all your commas are in the right place. It's about making your characters and their motivations as real as you can make them. It's about making sure the world you've created doesn't have any holes in it and testing your plot. Do your settings have enough detail? Do they have too much detail? Does every scene move the story forward or do you have a lot of filler scenes? So many things to examine and think about.

So in closing, take a chill pill after you finish writing that novel you've poured your heart into for months, maybe years. You and the novel deserve not to rush the revision process.

Happy writing!


  1. The hardest part for me is taking it slow. I have to get this out of my head, be at peace with it, say a prayer, and then let it go. But all that has to happen before I break. lol. But, yeah, I have to slow down. =)

  2. Well said, and oh so important. As writers, our first urge is to step back and say, Hey, this is fantastic. I shall send it out now! But, through experience, we know we have to let things simmer. Something I'm going through right now with my second novel!

    1. Yes, I can't agree with you more about letting things simmer! I've just let a recent project simmer for about 6 weeks. I started reading it again yesterday and it looks so different to me now than it did when I typed "The End."