Find Joy in Re-Seeing Revision
I’m grateful to Author and Professor Alexandria LaFaye for sharing her knowledge on my blog. Her latest book is Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina with co-author Lea Lyon and illustrator Jessica Gibson (Harper Collins, 2020).
Don't miss your chance to win a special prize! Look for details below Alexandria's post.
Welcome Alexandria LaFaye!
Revision is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in writing. Many writers treat revision as the penalty round of the writing process. They look at a critique as a process of showing them what they’re doing wrong. This mindset not only puts the revision process into a negative framework, but it takes a product vs. a process approach to writing. When I do school visits, I ask kids, “How many of you write a story for your teacher and think, Phew, I’m done, then get it back with feedback on making it better only to say, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to do it again?’” Most of the kids raise their hand.
They see their writing as an assignment to finish not a work of art in process. I tell them, writing is like baseball, you don’t get up to bat, swing and miss, then head to the dugout thinking, well, that’s that. No, you have any number of swings available to you –not just at that turn at bat, but there are eight more innings in the game. As writers we need to be in it for the whole game and to embrace the idea that attitude it everything.
When we look at revision as the penalty round, we’re strangling our creative process and eliminating so much joy.
Yes, I did just put ‘revision’ and ‘joy’ in the same sentence and meant it. Give me a chance. I’ll show you how revision can become a joy in your writing process.
Here’s a Video to Help you Re-See Revision
Discovering Joy in the Revision Process
1. Redefine Revision. Revision is a re-seeing of your work. See your writing in a new way and possibilities emerge. Give yourself mental time and space. Treat your writing like dough and give it time to prove. Walk away, try another creative and enriching endeavor, then return with an open mind and ask, “What do you have to show me?”
2. Keep the Right Frame of Mind. If you’re in the right frame of mind, you are writing from your subconscious. That’s the part of your mind that knows everything you’ve ever learned, seen, or done and can still recall (sometimes with effort). It’s not reminding you how to spell or what an editor or agent might say about your writing. You’re within your story, seeing, hearing, feeling along with your characters and recording what you’re experiencing. The time for all that heady, conscious mind craziness of spelling, grammar, and genre expectations comes into play when you edit, but when you write and revise, go with the flow.
3. Look for Expansion Joints. Often, we are so focused on “fixing” our writing that we don’t see hidden potential within a piece. Look for the areas in a manuscript you haven’t fully explored. Is there a line that should really be a scene? A character with unique qualities that would bring greater tension and complexity to the story if you expanded the development of that character? Treat revision as an exploration and allow your literary dough to rise.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Detours. If you’re focusing strictly on the shape of a first draft, you may be resisting the urge to take a detour. If you see a new way to take through the manuscript—do it. Even if it leads to a dead end, you may discover things about your story or your writing you can use elsewhere.
5. Get Ready to Do Your Rounds. Because writing is a process, you need to be ready to revise not once or twice or even three times, be ready to write, revise, revise, revise…and see revision as an open-ended process. Each time you dive back in, be ready to explore, learn, and grow as a writer.
6. Learn as You Go. Challenge yourself to learn new things about writing as you go—read other writers, explore how they craft their work, explore writing advice by writers you admire, spend time taking walks, creating crafts, or folding the laundry as you contemplate your own writing, what you’ve read, and what discoveries might be percolating in your subconscious waiting to come together as a new approach to a certain element of craft.
7. Relearn Revision. Rename it. Reframe it. Rearrange it anyway you need to so that revision becomes a creative, inspiring, and exploratory process free (mostly) of the restrictive views of your inner critic who admonishes you as you write. Reside in the story itself and discover where it can lead you. Write on. Revise with “re-seeing” in mind, and enjoy the process.
Take JOY in your art!
Care to learn more about writing from A. LaFaye, the author of the Scott O’Dell award winning historical novel Worth, the quirky, humorous picture book No Frogs in School, and over a dozen other books? She offers mentorships, manuscript critiques, and writing advice. Many of her mentees have gone on to publish their work and earn nominations for and win national awards for their work. Her goal as a writing coach is to help every writer and every one of their manuscripts reach their fullest potential.
Feel free to catch up with her on social media @sylvanocity on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. Stop by her website at www.alafaye.com. Visit her occasion blog WORDY WANDERINGS at alafaye.blogspot.com Or email her at a(at)alafaye.com.
Her next project will be Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina with co-author Lea Lyon and illustrator Jessica Gibson (Harper Collins, 2020). She loves working with new authors to help bring their work to its fullest potential, so feel free to reach out if you have a project you’re ready to take to the next level.
Enter to win a critique with Alexandria LaFaye. The lucky winner may submit a full picture book manuscript, short story, or opening chapter of your novel (up to 8 pages).
For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post OR the Sub Six member page.
AND let us know where you shared this post. Deadline to enter is Friday, November 29th.
Sub Six is a children’s book writers and illustrators support group. Members support each other through encouraging comments, submission tally sheets and monthly prizes.