Revising in Stages

Hiding among the stacks at the library

Now back to my memoir about going to college as a mother of five.  I find that if I try to fix all the suggestions that my critique readers make about my writing, I just sit there and stare at my work.  Oh sometimes, I’ll get up to file a nail or put on the kettle for a fresh pot of tea.  Then I’ll notice that the stove is dirty.  Those five children sometimes bring hungry friends over.  I’ll see another finger nail that needs grooming; I’ve got to choose a loose tea for the pot, choose a teacup…

You get the idea.  Does this ever happen to you when you’re revising?
 So I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do when revising, or even writing a new short story, is to hide in the local library for as long as possible—or until I’m found out by my children or husband as they call my cell phone relentlessly. 
Okay, so that keeps me sitting at my laptop, staring at the words.  Now to move forward.
I’ve found it easier to revise in stages.  I tend to work on the simpler fixes first.  You know; further explanations, clarifications, and, in my memoir especially, deeper thoughts.  It gets me into the story of the memoir and crawling ever so slightly forward.
I’m talking about the critique suggestions that I agree with or those that make sense for the writing or story at hand, the themes that I’m trying to connect in the writing.  Like I said in my previous post Writing is not a Cookie-Cutter Science, you only want to address the suggestions that matter to your voice, your writing.
I’m the type of writer who saves the different versions of my chapters or stories.  I’m working on my FIRST revision of the memoir with the simpler fixes.  I tell myself that in the next revision, I’ll work on the complications of time frame in a particular chapter, to re-evaluate chronological order in Chapter 9, for example.  Then in another revision, possibly divide a few longer chapters into shorter, tightly-woven chapters. 

Revising in stages can help a writer move forward on a longer project.  Saving the various revisions can help a writer move back to a prior version of the writing if she decides that the story can no longer move forward without a deleted section or details.  How about you?  Do you keep various versions of your writing when working on a project?  Please offer any suggestions you might have.  Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Revising in Stages”

  1. I used to keep multiple versions, but I'm not as methodical. Periodically, I'll email myself a copy as I work on a rough draft (in case the computer and backup device both somehow get destroyed). Then after I have a draft, I'll send manuscripts to beta readers. I know other versions are in cyberspace, so I don't clutter my Word Document box as much as I used to.

    Sometimes I need to tune everything out to revise. Now, I'm not having trouble with revision. I'm having trouble not revising and going on social media when I'm supposed to be studying for a test!

    Good luck as you keep at it.

  2. Thank you so much, Theresa, for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog.

    Yes, I forgot to mention that, once in a while, I e-mail myself a copy of a memoir chapter so as not to fret too much about my computer or laptop crashing with my writing life attached.

    I also understand the draw of this social media stuff. Brutal, isn't it? Good luck with your test. You can do it, I know. You've shown time and again how dedicated you are.

  3. Many a time have I gone to the library to write lesson plans. It made it so much easier because it was somewhat quieter than my home or school. I have made various copies of lesson plans. I like to pull from them when I am creating lessons. It's a little different than writing a story though. I agree with Theresa about emailing yourself a copy of your work, That way it's always there in cyberspace, unless you delete it. I can't tell you how many flash drives I have smashed. It's frustrating. I wish you all the luck.

  4. Thank you so much, Michelle, for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog. Gone are the quiet, quiet libraries, but there are less distractions at the library for me, and I force myself to stay in front of my computer no matter how many people walk past me to look out the windows to gaze at the lake.

    Yes, when I was writing the blog post, I forgot to mention that it is a great idea to send yourself an e-mail copy of your work once in a while. Good thing Theresa reminded us of it.

    P.S. I have nightmares of losing or breaking my flash drives. Thanks again for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog.

  5. Thank you so much, Lynda, for visiting my Adventures in Writing blog. Yes, unfortunately, I have many, many, many versions of some of my stories, and I'm working on collecting different versions of my memoir about going to college with five kids in tow. Thanks again for visiting and leaving a comment.


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