Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Can't I Revise?

I usually respond really well to deadlines. In fact, normally I go into total panic mode when faced with a deadline and work my butt off to get done in time. But right now I’m faced with a deadline and I can’t get myself motivated to really hit those revisions hard.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, trying to figure out why this time is different. Why can’t I revise?
Part of it is just plain busyness. I’m busy at work. We’ve got a conference coming up this weekend and I’ve been putting in more time at the job to get ready for that. On the home front, we were just away a few days on a mini-holiday. I want to host a Grey Cup party on November 28 (hopefully the Riders will be in it. For US readers, I’m talking about Canadian Football and my favorite team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.) And Christmas is coming and I haven’t done any shopping or baking.
On the writing front, I’ve got a novella coming out in January and I need to arrange some promotion for it. I should research some blogs and write some guest blogs. I should figure out how to best use Twitter.  I should figure out how to do stuff on Facebook.
I’m getting overloaded with shoulds.
I’m starting to hyperventilate just thinking about everything I should be doing. I think I’ve become so overwhelmed I can’t seem to do anything.
But that’s only part of it. When reading over my manuscript, there are parts of it I really like just the way they are. Then there are parts I’m not so happy with. Those parts are okay, but could be much better. I should be thinking of ways to revise them, but there’s a little voice in my head that keeps whispering “Good enough”.
One of my goals has always been to submit my best work. But this time I’m tempted to skip the hard work. Maybe it’s just plain laziness, being overwhelmed, or maybe it’s fear, but I’m having a hard time facing those revisions.
I know what will happen if I don’t submit my best work. I’ll get a big dose of the R word – rejection.
A little browsing on the Internet has helped. I ran across Nathan Bransford’s blog entitled “JK Rowling and The Art of Being a Clutch Writer”. In it he talks about how JK Rowling could definitely have rested on her laurels and submitted inferior work. Heaven knows, people would have bought the last Harry Potter books no matter how badly they might have been written. And heaven knows, JK Rowling must be faced with distractions that mere word peddlers like me can only imagine. Yet, like a pinch hitter in the ninth inning, she stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. She made sure her latest work was even better then the work that came before. Bransford says she’s a clutch writer.
That’s what I want to be, a clutch writer. A writer whose work gets better each time out.
So, somehow, I’m going to sit down at my computer and make my manuscript better. Somehow, I’m going to get excited about my work. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I might accomplish that?


  1. Do you need an MSN intervention, Jana?

    This is a good story - I don't what else to say! It's hard when you're busy, hard to find the time - there are not enough hours in the day!

    Good luck finding your inner motivation - and let me know if you need an MSN session :)

  2. I'm having the same motivational problems so let me know if you get any great advice :D

  3. Janet, I think I may be a little secretly worried that the story isn't good enough. It's been such a crazy year, I'm not certain of anything anymore.

    Yes, maybe I could use a little pep talk. How about some time after the Grey Cup game?


  4. Karyn, when I get through this (hopefully) I'll let you know what is working and what isn't. In the meantime, I'm glad you stopped by to lend some support.


  5. Hi Jana,
    I just went through this as well. Fortunately, I don't have deadlines, and so I've left the revisions and moved on to a new WIP. I often find that once I've had a break from the revisions and gotten to flex some creative muscle, I come back with renewed vigor and a sharper eye.

    Good luck!

  6. Hi Joanne,
    Working on something else for a while is often one of my coping strategdies when revisions aren't going so well. But in this case, the deadline to submit to this series is coming up fast and I don't want to miss it. So I have to push through. I think what I have to do is clear my schedule for a few days and just concentrate on the revisions. I have to make myself forget about all the other things I "should" be doing. The background noise from all those unfinished tasks is distracting me from what I really need to do.