KNOWING WHEN TO STOP REVISING
A couple of weeks ago I talked about knowing when to start revising (found here) and although I have talked about that time when you gotta stop revising (found here), I thought that I would touch on it again. I have written now 40 complete first drafts and I've revised over 20, or at least I'm in the midst of revising books 21 and 22. I have spent months going over the drafts and making big changes, little ones, implementing beta feedback, sensitivity reader feedback and so on. I know that sometimes you need a break from your project to be able to fully see the forest of errors that remain, but I also know that there is such a thing as too much revision, just like there's such a thing as too much self-editing and beyond.
One of the hardest things for me is knowing when to say enough is enough. I usually have a rule that if I can do two full passes without having to change more than spelling errors and the like, that I know I'm done and it's ready for the editor. The problem is that sometimes, I feel like I get stuck in this cycle of never knowing when that happens, and it's what I want to talk about today.
I have, not once, in all my time of writing, been able to do the exact same steps when it comes to revising a new project. I have my basics, my outline, my read throughs and the like, but I always find there's some new thing to each project that turns even that on its head. I don't know if it's the same for anyone else, but for me there are no hard and fast rules and routine when it comes to approaching revision. It could be, as people have told me, because I don't stick too much to an outline when I draft. I don't think that's the only reason, but I'll admit that it could play a part.
That said, I do have a big toolbox when it comes to revision. I have my outline, and my notes, and the various different things I've tried to make sure that I have everything I need to get started. But like I said above, there are times when I feel like I'm going to be caught in this neverending loop where I revise, and make changes and just never get to the point where I feel like it's actually done.
In the piece I linked above where I talked about knowing when revision is done, I listed questions to ask yourself, and I stand by those. My problem, I think, is that I just don't have as much confidence in what I'm doing anymore. I don't know if it's down to things going on behind the scenes, or whether it's just a quirk of mine, but even though I can get some distance from the first draft before going in to the second, I don't always know if answering those questions is enough.
The last thing I want to do is make out like I don't know what I'm doing, because I very much do, but I'll admit to having those crises same as any other writer. I'm not perfect, my first drafts can be readable to needing a complete rewrite. It's something that's always in the back of my mind, the ending of one story and the knowledge that when it comes to revision I am going to have a hard time knowing what to start with, and how long it'll take.
If I were to list the writing process in order of dread, it would be editing, revision and then drafting. I love drafting, I love that I know what I'm doing and where I'm going. I do not like the stress that comes with the professional edit, and before that with the revision process. I guess this means I'm human, and means that I need to be kind to myself and accept that sometimes, you just don't know when to stop, and that's when you need betas, CPs and the like to pull you out of that funk and give you a different view on how things are reading, on how they're going.
So be kind to yourself, and be aware that not all of this process is simple, not all of it is easy, there will be hard days ahead, and you can do this.
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!