Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Insecure Writer and Dealing With Revisions


Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

The tedious process of revising my debut manuscript.

It’s not as if I haven’t already edited the heck out of my novel over the past five years. It’s been through two critique groups, and I’ve gone through it myself so many times I practically have it memorized. In fact, I felt it was in good enough shape to schedule a copy edit with a professional editor. All seemed to be good.

Then I sent a copy to a beta reader who has some experience with urban fantasies (Thanks, Loni).

Unfortunately, she found a few problems in areas I hadn’t considered. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but she basically had a problem with both the protagonist and the antagonist. Arg! Nothing that can't be fixed, mind you, but some of those fixes will require major modifications to the story and that’s what’s setting off my insecurities.

I’ve always had difficulty making changes to scenes I felt were essentially finished. Once I have the scene the way I like it, I have a hard time imagining the scene happening in any other way. It's a mental thing. I’m making my way through my manuscript, tackling scenes one at a time, but it's slow process. Changes in one scene often necessitate making changes elsewhere in the story. My biggest fear is that after I finish all these revisions, the professional editor will come back with all sorts of new problems, requiring yet another painful rewrite.

And I thought writing the first draft was hard.

June's question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? 

Maybe this isn’t the best way to write, but I’m constantly going back and editing chapters even as I’m working on the first draft. Since I’m such a slow writer, however, it may be six to twelve months before I return to a chapter I’ve already worked on, which gives me plenty of time to look at the words with fresh eyes.  

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 



  1. There are so many ways to work! If your editing as you go eventually gets you to the end of the draft and I would say that works!

  2. I think you should expect that anyone who reads your manuscript will suggest some changes, so expect them from your editor too. Even though the process of revising may be painful, it sounds like you're doing everything right to get your manuscript in the best shape it can be before publishing it.

  3. Sorry you've got yet more rewrites. Hopefully the editor won't find more than small mistakes.

  4. I hear ya! I've just had some feedback that's got me rethinking more or less the entire story. It will be better in ALL the ways, but the work is daunting!

  5. Feedback is always interesting and--at least for me--never what I expect. Good luck with your editing. Let us know how it goes.

  6. Yeah, this is me: "I’m constantly going back and editing chapters even as I’m working on the first draft..." And I never get anywhere with it. It's difficult but also great to have that feedback. Fingers crossed the editor will have minor changes.

  7. I also edit while I'm still working on the first draft. I know there's a lot of writing advice out there saying you shouldn't do that, but I do it anyway, and I know it's helpful to me. It doesn't matter what other people do or do not do as part of their writing processes. If something works for you, keep doing it.

  8. The ripple effect. It sure makes for a long journey! But you'll be thankful you fixed all those problems.

  9. I used to be more 'married' to my writing. It gets better with time and the number of books written.

    One thing that helps is saving a copy of the MS the before making changes. That helped me feel more free to edit, knowing I had a copy saved, just in case. I never go back to them, though. And that brings me to a second point.

    As you get more experience with revisions, you learn the new stuff is always better. After a while, you trust yourself to make most changes without saving the old version.

  10. I know the 'experts' recommend not editing as you write but I know scores of people who do. If it works for you...

  11. Make sure you give your brain time to think and incorporate your changes. Sometimes, a little rest brings about huge insights and inspiration that knocks the story out of the park. Sorry for the cliché, but it's a cliché for a reason. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. I also edit as I work, and I'm also a dreadfully slow writer. But no matter how slow we are, we're still getting a story finished. I'll wish you plenty of inspiration as you make those changes, and all the confidence you need to wade through them. Happy IWSG day!

  13. *wince* Sorry. I hope I was at least helpful, and not just stress-inducing. I really do like your story and you are a great writer!

  14. I'm trying the go back and revise method for the first time with my current WIP. I think this is going better than when I wrote a really messy draft and had to redo everything.
    I've totally been there when you have major revisions based on critique partner's comments. It's overwhelming at first, but in the end, your book will be even better!

  15. Its hard to hear I know. I agree with others who said you are ALWAYS going to have suggestion for changes to improve and strengthen your writing. Or not, not all suggestions are best for your story, but you know and that is your decision.

    Sure is hard to hear. I get it. Wishing you the best. You can do it. Remember, its your story and you can decide which comments are helpful and improve and which don't or lack understanding of the story. Cheering you on.

  16. Getting feedback from beta readers and critique partners can definitely bring on the insecurity, but after the insecurity and all the other emotions, as well as the hard work, it'll be worth it. You've got this!

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