The “R” Word

So, I can’t repost blogs from other bloggers on WordPress. No big deal. It’s not fair taking credit for someone else’s work. Now that I have “ranted,” let’s move on.

I read a post from Ryan Lanz, a WordPress blogger, about a subject many writers are uncomfortable talking about: revisions. Revisions, from what I hear, are the bane of every writer’s existence. No one wants to think about re-working or editing work that they poured their heart and soul into. I think I’m in the same camp. I don’t like having to write and write again sentences and paragraphs that I know work for me. I think that’s why I don’t type my work; because my perfectionist thinking says that when you type your work, it should be the be all and end all. It should reflect your best efforts.

The thing about revisions, as Ryan says, is that they are necessary. Drafts are just that: drafts. To paraphrase a fellow writer on Twitter: “The first draft is a lump of clay; it’s there so that you can mold and refine it to what you want it to be.”

I never thought of drafts that way, and it makes a lot of sense. The first draft is often called the rough draft. You have words on paper, but most of the time, it’s a big mess. Nothing about it is smooth and coherent. And I suspect that in the back of writers’ minds, they know it’s not their best. They don’t need CPs and beta readers to state the obvious, or not so obvious.

The point about revisions is that we shouldn’t view them as chores or necessary evils. Yes, they are necessary and no writer likes them. But they are opportunities to let out our inner artists. Again, this was something that never occurred to me. I think if I viewed drafts and revisions as such in my college years, I might not be so hesitant about writing that novel I promised. I write short stories, but even those need refinement. And I’ve never met a writer who has written a first draft and gone on to be successful. It just doesn’t happen. So, I—and many other writers, too—need to view revisions as an opportunity to make a good thing, great.

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Author: G. R. McNeese

I'm originally from Illinois, currently residing in Georgia. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing. I am blessed with a supportive wife and family.

4 thoughts on “The “R” Word”

  1. I agree. Revisions allow you to “almost perfect” your writing. Nothing’s perfect, but being knee-deep in revisions on one of my novels right now, if anyone saw my “rough draft” they’d scream. (Or I would). I hate revisions too, mostly because they take so much time to do, but I’m starting to find a fondness for them. I love how they let me read my writing and see a scene in a different way. I love how I can pick up something I thought was so “perfect” when I wrote it and find a way to make it even more cohesive. I think that’s the neatest thing about revisions, is that we can view it like life: a work in progress.

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  2. Over the years, I’ve struggled with revisions. One thing that’s helped is to shift my way of thinking about the revision process. I now view it as peeling away the layers of the story–removing the excess and deepening what remains–so that the story can shine. I feel like I owe it to the story to make it as polished as possible. I owe it to the characters. Thinking about revising as peeling away those layers–getting to know my characters and their story better–has helped make revising less intimidating.

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  3. Revisions are an important part of the writing process. If one is a serious writer, you suck it up. (I say as I am knee-deep into them, pulling my hair out). 🙂

    As far as reblogging on WP, I never did it either for a long time, because I thought as you – that it was somewhat of a thievery. I have come to understand that it is a great way to share the writing of others – especially those that I treasure most, those that I consider sacred within my circle.

    I reblogged you, George. And will happily again. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

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