I have such a love-hate relationship with revisions, as I imagine most writers do. After all, it's such a feat just to finish writing a book. A writer spends months, or even years, working on their beloved manuscript. Finally getting to type THE END is about as good a feeling as taking a family vacation to Disneyland.
But the truth is it's not really THE END. Because your work isn't done. And as far as what happens next?
The dreaded REVISIONS process.
This looks different for every writer, and it can definitely feel overwhelming. After much trial and error over the years I've come up with a 5-step process I've found really helpful. I do want to note that there's something that happens between THE END and REVISION TIME, and that's gathering feedback. With a newly-completed manuscript, I send it to 2-3 critique partners to get their overall thoughts. An author with an editor would get notes in form of an edit letter.
Either way, once you get the feedback, I recommend taking a week or so to let their words and ideas settle. Absorb what you find helpful and shake loose anything that doesn't land with you. Once you have all of these notes/ideas you agree with, then it's time to :
Consider this step the brainstorming phase.
After I organize feedback notes, I open a new Word doc and group everything into categories. These usually look something like: Characters, World-Building, Pacing/Momentum, and Miscellaneous.
Underneath each category header, I make bullet points of all the things I want to work on in the next draft. When it's all done, it looks something like a checklist. I'll often copy/paste directly from the edit letter if there's something specific I want to make sure to tackle.
This process can take anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the amount of "problems" I'm trying to fix.
On to the hardest step-- REVISE!
This is where I open up my manuscript in Scrivener (which I use to write all my books). I copy/paste my bullet-point notes (from my checklist) into each chapter. Example, if I have a character who needs to take more risks, I would copy/paste the phrase "Character A- take risks!" at the beginning of each chapter where that character appears.
This can take awhile, but I find it incredibly useful. Once I'm done adding all my checklist bullet points, I then have each chapter peppered with notes. It puts me in a good headspace (not to mention it keeps me focused on my revision goals) to dive into the actually revisions.
This part of the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. It depends what kind of deadlines I'm under and whether or not I'm in the creative zone. And while this step is inarguably SO MUCH WORK and will--at some point--make you want to pull your hair out, hang in there! Your hard work will pay off and your story is going to thank you for it.
This is definitely the easiest step. :) After weeks or months of actively pouring your heart and efforts into revisions, I find it immensely beneficial to walk away from it. I try to take at least a week where I'm not thinking about my story at all. I might work on another project or take time to pursue other interests.
After my time away, I'm able to come back to my story with fresh and eager eyes. Which leads to the next step:
With fresh eyes, I reread the entire story--and NOT on the computer. This is my favorite part of the process because I get to see how all my hard work has paid off from Step 2. :)
I prefer to read on the kindle, but I know other authors who like to print their manuscript and read it. Either way is fine, as long as you have a way to take notes/highlight as you go. As mentioned above, I do not recommend re-reading on the computer. Allow your eyes to read your wonderful words in a new way. It's amazing how different the story feels when you experience it on a new medium.
This part of the process usually takes me a day or two--depending how much time I can hole myself away from my kiddos. :)
Once I've finished reading, I go through all my highlights/notes from my kindle and transfer the changes to the manuscript. I'll also take this time to do a "whole project search" for words or phrases I overuse or inconsistent character name spellings. I'll make sure my chapter numbers are in the right order. That my font size and paragraph spacing is correct. Basically, I'm cleaning up everything best I can.
This part of the process usually takes my 2-3 days. And when it's all over... (see bonus step):
After step 5 is completed, it's time to CELEBRATE!
Revising a manuscript is not for the faint-hearted and you should be proud of all you've accomplished! It's time to pull out your favorite pint of ice cream or pour yourself a glass of your prefered beverage--you've earned it!