Friday, June 25, 2010

On Dealing With Revisions and Critiques

This is a tough one for many writers. I was working with one of my current writers on the issue of revisions. I should note, that she has always done really well with revisions but at this particular time, the revisions were really kicking her in the butt. Are the revisions bad or near impossible? Not really. So why were the revisions kicking her around?

When the issue first showed up, we talked through her concerns and in doing so and she realized that the issue came down to simply having the revisions come in at a bad time. Things were just hectic around her house, the kids had just gotten out of school and now she and her husband were having to adjust their work schedules to accomodate the kids. In other words, the real world. The impact of this change, however, created a situation in her head that made the changes look a bit more challenging that she thought.

So we did two things. The first was to take a single day off of writing. Just enjoy the day and the kids. In doing so, she would be able to come back and see everything again without the stress and the panic.

The second, and this is the bigger one, was to really look at the revision recommendations. She was able to categorize all of the changes and realized that, while the list was long, the revisions really stemmed from three things she had to fix. This is where I was thankful that I sign plotters instead of pantsters. She could look at the changes now, look at her manuscript and know just where the changes had to occur and how to accomplish it all with little or no effort.

I honestly think that for many writers when revisions or critiques come back, there is an instant panic and a feeling that your writing is awful and you might as well throw in the towel. This is normal. But, take a breath, relax and really examine the issue. I can promise you that there is an easy solution out there.



  1. Although this post was about revisions and critiques, one comment really stood out for me: "This is where I was thankful that I sign plotters instead of pantsters."

    Is this just a question you ask before offering representation? Or can you typically tell by the writing the author's approach?

  2. Reena,

    I do talk to writers about this when I hear what their plans are for writing. Although this is not a requirement, I have to know the writer has the ability to produce and not simply "wait for their muse to talk to them." Unfortunately, this business is about deadlines.