Writer Wednesday–Revising Stage Fright

Over the course of the month, we’ve covered revising tips, revising how-to’s, and even shared personal experiences with revising.


Regardless, I often find myself avoiding the entire process.


I have stage fright. Performance anxiety.

I psych myself out.

When I picture a manuscript, I see a intricately woven tapestry built over weeks and months of looming (uh, is that a word?) and weaving threads.

Sure, there are mistakes, knots, wonky stitches, but how can you cut out a section of a tapestry without redoing the whole thing? How can you tear apart something you so lovingly created?

Well, in reality, a manuscript isn’t a tapestry at all. It’s a word document. Words can be changed. Scenes can be deleted–without upsetting the flow of the rest of the piece!

But it’s still a lot of work.

I have some thoughts on how to make things easier. (Yes, I’ve tried these and it works!)

How to get to gettin’ when revising:

  • Schedule time to revise. (Saying “I’ll do this tomorrow or later” isn’t good enough. Just like starting a diet tomorrow, tomorrow never comes because a specific moment is never really determined. I mean, really, you can put off tomorrow for years. Right?)
  • Make your environment comfy. (Who wants to sit in an austere, cold, drafty, dark, boring place? Get your sweater, cosy socks, water bottle, coffee mug, favorite snack, and cushiest pillow.)
  • Get rid of distractions. (Turn off the TV. Lock the kids out. Turn off Facebook, Twitter, email, G+, YouTube, NPR, etc. I know it’s hard, but we survived without them before, right? So we can do it again.)
  • Open. The. Document. (Just because you’ve turned the computer on doesn’t mean you’ve got your manuscript open.)
  • Turn on the tunes. (I know several writers who develop soundtracks for each manuscript. I don’t, but I DO love to listen to music while I work.)
  • Be in the moment. (Don’t look at the entire document. Look at the first sentence. Then the second. Then the third. And so on.)
  • Copy and paste. (Hit a really tough spot? Copy the section into another document and have at it. If you don’t like it, don’t bother switching it out. But I BET you’ll make it better.)
  • When revising QUALITY is better than QUANTITY. (Rough drafts are for quantity. Revising is where you make every word count. It’s a laborious process, but take your time anyway. The slower you go, the more you’ll catch.)
  • Exercise Patience. (If you need a break or need to redo a section you’ve already revised, don’t beat yourself up. Listen to your instincts.)

What helps you revise?

Be sure to check out Deb’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic of expectations!

13 comments on “Writer Wednesday–Revising Stage Fright

  1. Great tips Laura thanks!!

  2. Sarah Fine says:

    Cutting and pasting to isolate a scene is a great idea! It lets you work on it without being overwhelmed by the bulk of the document. Best of luck with your revisions, Laura ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. roguemutt says:

    I don’t know why it’s so hard. It’s just reading. Only you’re making more notes than you might with an ordinary book.

  4. Vicki Tremper says:

    Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  5. E.Arroyo says:

    Some great tips.

  6. Lydia K says:

    I like that copy and paste idea…may have to steal that!

  7. Akoss says:

    Great tips Laura. I couldn’t find anything else to add.

  8. Great tips, especially #4. Sigh. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Mike Offutt says:

    I want to add that it’s important not to fall in love with scenes or characters. Sometimes as a writer, we have to make the tough decisions and to do this, we have to ask tough questions. Example: Is this character I introduced going to advance the plot? Is there a purpose for having them there, or did I just feel like introducing someone at this point and don’t have a concrete plan laid out for them? Adding 20,000 unnecessary words to a manuscript simply because you thought it would be cool for your character to have a friend without any real reason for that friend being there is just cluttering your manuscript. Cut, cut, cut. But the problem is, we as writers can easily fall in love with these secondary character for any number of reasons and lose objectivity.

  10. J E Fritz says:

    Very well put. I actually do put on the TV while revising. I don’t pay much attention to it so it’s more like background to me ๐Ÿ™‚ The quality over quantity thing is always what gets me! I have to keep at it.

  11. amie borst says:

    where was this post LAST month when i needed it? huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰ oh well, better late than never. thanks for another great post, laura.

  12. I admit I like tunes while writing. I wrote Breakthrough with B-52s blasting loud and clear. Some Metallica and Cheap Trick too.

  13. Karen Lange says:

    These are great tips. Working to add them to my schedule and mindset for 2012. I have this habit of dancing around a project and getting a whole lot of nothing done. Thanks, you are inspiring me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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