5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Revisions

five-ways-motivation-revision

HEY. Long time no blog! I promise I’ll be more active. Promise!

Revisions can be tough. They can be gruelling. And, if you’re anything like me, then you need COPIOUS amounts of sugar (chocolate, preferably) and tea to actually get through them. I recently sent in my third round of revisions for Frayed, and in the end, I was quite pleased with the work I’d managed to do — and it was amazing to see just how much it had changed — for the best — since that first round of revisions. And that, of course, wasn’t including the numerous drafts since ’12 I’d written. So it got me thinking. What are the best ways to get through those revisions?

1. REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS YOU LOVED ABOUT THE MANUSCRIPT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Okay. So this is a massive one for me. Motivation during revisions can be stretched thin sometimes (especially when you’ve been at it for a couple of hours), and sometimes, it’s nice to remember WHAT it was you loved so much about the story.

Was it the characters, the story, the way you’d written it? What was it — as small or large as it might be — that kept you writing it. That kept you rewriting, and revising, and editing. Find that small shard of something, and keep going. Keep writing, keep revising, keep editing.

2. IT’S TOTALLY OKAY TO BE FRUSTRATED.

You might want to give up on your story altogether. You might want to throw your laptop out the window. You might wonder why you ever wanted to be a writer in the first place. BUT WAIT. That’s okay. That’s fine. Ask any writer if they’ve ever been frustrated with their novel at some point or anything and I can almost guarantee that they’ll say yes.

If not then you MUST tell me your secret.
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| My handy collection of pens & pencils I keep with me practically all the time. |

3. TAKE BREAKS.

Read. Devour more books. Read some more. Make some cupcakes. Go for a walk. Buy books. Go to a library. Eat chocolate. See a movie.

4. REMEMBER YOU END GOAL.

Is it to finish those infuriating revisions? Is it to be a published author? Think about what you’re trying to achieve by the end. Write it down, stick it on the fridge — or beside your bed, somewhere you’ll see it.

| I broke revisions up into sections, so I was't freakishly overwhelmed. |

| I broke revisions up into sections, so I was’t freakishly overwhelmed. And yes, I am SO aware of my dreadful handwriting… |

5. BREAK IT UP.

Focus on one revision element at a time. Me? I totally get overwhelmed by revisions. I find it helpful to break things up into sections, so I work through them separately, then I move onto the next. That way I get things done and stay motivated. Focus on one element of the revision process at a time, that way I find it to be less overwhelming.

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| Cooking break! (spoiler: they were deceptively disgusting.) |

In the end, it all comes down to this: we all write, and at some point, we’re all unmotivated or find it difficult. But we sit down and write anyway, because that’s just who we are. Even when we think we suck, even when it’s hard, we write.


Writers, now it’s your turn. Do you find it hard to stay motivated during revisions? What tips do you have to stay motivated? Also: what’s the most delicious cupcake you’ve ever eaten?

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14 thoughts on “5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Revisions

  1. EXCELLENT TIPS. I’m rereading Wanderland in preparation for rewriting it and it is VERY daunting (mostly because it’s almost 90k and I’ve never written something that long before). But I do love it, so hopefully that keeps me going :D Good luck with Frayed, Kara!!

  2. Great tips! Wish I was at this stage in my manuscript (wow, revisions sound fun . . . clearly I’m losing motivation . . . ) BUT NO. I get to figure out what’s wrong with my plot AGAIN. Yay. Cupcakes sound like an excellent motivation method, but the result would probably be somewhere along the lines of making batch after batch so I don’t have to write. (Which my siblings would probably enjoy. But my characters would not.)

  3. I agree – revisions are tough. Not usually my favourite bit of the writing process – I prefer creating the story for the first time.
    I like your tip on focusing on one element at a time. That’s what I do and I find it really helpful. I have been keeping a success diary, and when I nail a scene or a section of the book (via revision 1,2,3, etc), I will often share an overview of what has just happened. “Today, Armand met Isabel for the first time and discussed his reaction to her with his sister”.It makes it all seem more real.
    I also love the “remember what you loved about the book in the first place”. Nicely put.

  4. Reblogged this on Emily Arden, author and commented:
    A great post on staying motivated during revisions.
    I agree – revisions are tough. Not usually my favourite bit of the writing process – I prefer creating the story for the first time.
    I like the tip on focusing on one element at a time. That’s what I do and I find it really helpful. I have been keeping a success diary, and when I nail a scene or a section of the book (via revision 1,2,3, etc), I will often share an overview of what has just happened. “Today, Armand met Isabel for the first time and discussed his reaction to her with his sister”. It makes it all seem more real.
    I also love the “remember what you loved about the book in the first place”. Nicely put.

  5. I’m not a writer, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be to motivate yourself to revise – I have hard enough trouble editing my book reviews and school essays as it is! But these tips sound extremely helpful, so thank you for taking the time to share them with us. <3 Fabulous post, as usual Kara!

    • Thanks Zoe! When I think about it, I think these tips could be applied to other sorts of revision too. When I studied for the HSC (which are the all-important exams here in Australia…) I tried to focus on what life would be like after the revisions — and having that focus helped. In a way, it worked too with novel revision. (Although that is MUCH more enjoyable. Give me a novel to revise any day…)

  6. Wonderful tips, Kara. Revision is a slow and difficult process for me because I can’t just throw everything to the wind and say “I’ll fix it later” like I can in a first draft, and it’s easy to get frustrated with my writing. I agree that breaking revision down into sections is key. If I try to do everything at once I get overwhelmed, which only leads to procrastination, which only leads to more procrastination. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Good luck with the rest of your revisions as you approach your book launch!

  7. Great tips. For me, staying focussed on the end goal, remembering the good things about the book, expecting there to be problems and not being overwhelmed by them, being prepared for a hard slog at times, and having a methodical approach all help. Which is pretty much what you said! It also helps if you’ve done it before, and can look back at books you’ve successfully revised in the past, just to remind yourself you’ll get there in the end. I can’t quite remember how I got through my first book – lots of coffee probably, along with lots of advice and encouragement from other writers online.

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