Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Chapter a Day for As Long as It Takes

I have been struggling to edit my novel for a couple of months.  Yesterday, I forced myself to shut down everything on my computer except Word to minimize distractions.  Two kids were asleep and one was at preschool.  All I had to do is write.  I told myself I could get up from my chair only to get another cup of coffee or when one chapter was completed. 

On Monday, I planned out exactly the changes I needed to make to existing chapters and the ones I needed to add.  It was a little overwhelming.  Overwhelming to the point I wondered whether I should walk away from it and give it more space.

Yesterday I worked up some determination and wrote one chapter.  Once I got started, it seemed to write itself.  My character's marriage is starting to fall apart a little, something I hinted at in the original version but only included in the first few chapters.  This new chapter only has the main character and her husband in it.   I can see now that it really needed to be added.  The chapter took some turns I didn't expect, that I didn't plan out in my mind before I wrote it. 

Within minutes I was lost in it.  Any worries I had about finishing this story or the amount of work it will take to do revisions was vanished within two sentences - completely gone without a trace.

I think sometimes as writers we think there's magic to writing.  It's easy to think that if I'm having a bad day, my story might turn out bad so I should wait until tomorrow.  But I truly think that if I had sat down to write that chapter any day of the week, it would have gone pretty much the same way because I know who my characters are.  They couldn't have behaved differently in the chapter - not a chance.

So I think it won't be so difficult to write another chapter today.  And another tomorrow.  And rip apart and reassemble another one on Friday.  I make a commitment to myself to work on it one chapter a day for as long as it takes.

I love this story before I made these changes.  I can't wait to see how it turns out when I'm done. 


  1. Editing can be hard, but what I like about it is you come back and fill in any holes you missed.

  2. Congrats! It's awesome that you were determined to do it and you DID. It's going to be totally worth it in the end. (I have a feeling I'm going to need to do this very soon, too.)