The Everything’s-Going-to-Hell Phase in My Revision Process

June 3rd, 2010

Building-collapsesI’ve noticed lately that when I’m working on a piece of writing over the past couple of years, the process goes through distinct and recurring stages:

  1. The piece begins with a flash of inspiration. I think “I’m a writer with good ideas! I can do it!”
  2. I sit down to write. Words come tumbling out. I’m positive I’m onto something brilliant. This piece is gong to put me on the map.
  3. The work slows. I stop to use the thesaurus on MS Word.  I am trying to move forward and rework the paragraphs as I write them. I also realize I have to look something up on the internet. And I ought to check the email message that just came in. Could be important.
  4. I’m back to my piece and re-read what I’ve got. Sounds pretty good. Well, except the one part. And the beginning. It really should begin somewhere else.
  5. I add another paragraph here and there. I feel like with a little reworking, and continuing a little farther, I’ll have a complete draft that I can work with.
  6. I realize that I don’t know why I’m telling the story in the first place. I don’t like the tone. Why am I so preachy and humorless? I definitely should start in a different scene, and refocus the whole narrative.
  7. I do another Save As. This is my seventh version. I’ve already created a folder for all the versions of this piece. I have created a document of outtakes, and another where I sketch out an outline of the structure. This piece will definitely take longer than I planned.
  8. The piece is utter crap. What made me think this was a good idea? It is twice as long as it was two days ago. Also, twice as incoherent and pointless.
  9. I give up.
  10. What the hell. It can’t get any worse. Save As version 8.
  11. There are actually pretty interesting details. I might be  able to salvage this piece after all.
  12. Ready to be critiqued, and repeat steps  3-11 again.

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