I recently had lunch with one of my amazing and wonderful clients. We were busy talking over the novel that she’s currently working on. This is the novel that I signed her up for; it’s a marvelous book that takes place in an fantastically inventive world, peopled with characters that cleave to your heart (I can’t wait for people to read this book, can you tell?). We picked apart a particular scene, came up with some good ideas and then she asked me this, “How can I help you help me?”
Well! How lovely to be asked! I was happy to answer of course, and thought I’d share that answer here for others who are at the same relative point – beginning revisions of your novel.
The best thing you can do is: Stop. Stop and take some time before you begin writing or re-writing. Give yourself some time.
Why? Because a part of revision takes place off-stage, in your unconscious. I’ve always disliked discussions of the writing process that give things a feel of the mystical or ineffable, and that’s not what I want to do here but, even if you’re not a writer, you know what I’m talking about – have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with that light bulb thought? That’s the brain putting pieces together in ways you might not have seen initially. Have you ever said, I get my best ideas when I…? Whatever the rest of that sentence is, I bet you don’t get your best ideas when you sit down to figure out your best ideas. Sometimes, you have to leave things alone; jumping right in might close the door to an unexpected idea.
There are so many pressures sitting on a writer’s shoulders, that I know. And there’s more to revision than what I’m discussing here of course. But take this small piece of advice: Stop and sit with things for awhile. You might be surprised what light bulb you get in the middle of the night.
What revision advice do you have to share? What ideas do you use?