Monday 10 October 2022

Juggling Revision & Drafting


One thing I have learned in all my years of being a writer is that I work better when I have multiple projects to get done. It's not just about avoiding writer's block by always having something to switch to, but also because my brain is constantly thinking over the problems that have to be solved in various projects. It's something where I know I can revise one day, stick the problems in the back burner in my mind and hopefully then come back to it another day and be able to fix things. Even if it takes me a few rounds of revisions, I, usually, get there in the end.

That doesn't mean that it's an easy task, juggling drafting however many projects, and revising an older one. It just means that I know how my brain works, and how best to apply that knowledge to my working life. I didn't start out able to do that though, when I first started writing, it was one draft at a time, and I would have to completely stop drafting to be able to work on revisions for a project. I don't know if it's experience that has put me in the position I am now, deadlines, or the fact that I've obviously grown as a writer since those first projects.

But what does that mean for all of you reading? Is it possible to juggle the two when you're still a newbie, or even when you've got the experience under your belt? I can't speak for all writers, and I won't even imply that my advice is universal and works for everyone, becuase the truth is, that's a lie. No one can give you one single way of doing things and it apply to everyone watching or reading. That's part of being a writer, or any kind of artist, is knowing that you will work in your own way and it doesn't matter how much someone else says this works for them, if it doesn't for you, that's just the way it is.

However, I do have some tips for those wanting to attempt to do the same. I'm gonna stick to just the drafting and revising project rather than have you all try and take on a bunch of drafting and revision if that's not the way you normally work. Of course I know there are writers out there who are doing a whole lot more than me, and for that I salute them!

If you want to plan your time, or even just think ahead, my first piece of advice is to separate the drafting from the revising. By this I simply mean that you don't plan to write a chapter or whatever, and then switch over to revising as well. I know this does work for some people, but for me it's such a different approach and a hard shift from one to the other that I find it just makes it harder for me to both concentrate and work on both equally.

The way I do it is simple, I draft one day, and then on another day I'll revise. I make sure that there's no overlap. It allows me to switch my brain from creating to critiquing. It allows me to put the world of one project to the side and pull the world of the project I'm actually working on to the front of my mind. It's something that I learned early on, I can't do both on the same day. Well, I probably could if pushed, but it wouldn't go well and would probably cause more problems than it solved. So that's the way I do it, keeping the two of them completely separate.


This might sound like something that everyone says, that you need to plan your time and work out when and such you'll be working on what. I don't mean that everyone can or should plan their time. There are a lot of writers doing other jobs and with other commitments and I know that it's just not possible to do this for absolutely everyone. But, if you are able, try and work out when you'll be working on each project. Even if it's a case of saying: this week I'll draft, next week I'll revise. You don't have to be exact with the planning, not unless you want to. But this allows you to create more distance, and also prepares you for what you'll be doing.

I've been planning my time for a number of years now, and I do find that if I get up knowing that I'm going to write a chapter, it helps me zone in on that project. If I know that I'm gonna be going through a revision project, I can usually spend the night before, and the morning before, thinking up and going over my notes and allowing myself to get into that headspace again. It really has been a gamechanger for me, and it could be for you as well.

I say this with most things, whether they be goals or word count or anything like that. I think that too often as a society and community, we're too focused on achieving the highest amount possible. We get hooked on the idea of doing more and more and being super productive. The same applies here. If you're just starting out trying to juggle these two completely different processes, you might find that you get overwhelmed or start to feel a little out of sorts if you jump into doing both either too close together or all at once. There is no deadline, at least there shouldn't be if you're trying this for the first time. You need to be able to take your time with it, and starting small with a chapter here or there, slowly building it up and moving it into your regular working pattern is the best way to make sure that you don't either get burned out, or completely panicked about what lay ahead.

I will always advocate for starting small and going slowly. If you do have a deadline, and it's something that you can't avoid, my advice there would be to not try and implement a completely new way of working for you while managing that. It will just add on the stress and make the whole thing a lot more of a headache.

So those are my tips for juggling revision and drafting. I wish you all the best of luck with your projects!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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