Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, July 01, 2016

IWSG: Seemingly Insurmountable

On the first Wednesday of the month, a few hundred writers (including me), all fans of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (and famous founder Alex J. Cavanaugh), blog about some issue we've been preoccupied with.

So this month, I'd like to write a little about revision goals. Especially when those goals seem insurmountable. Even though I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer more than a planner, my basic revision process is to:

  1. Think about what I'd like to accomplish.
  2. Set a deadline.
  3. Break that large task into smaller pieces.
  4. Set a daily goal of hours worked (or words completed).
  5. Try to work methodically until the overall goal is met.
  6. Try to get feedback at key points from readers I trust.
  7. Forgive myself if I don't make my goals every single day.
I want to revise Rivers of Stone, now that the unwieldy dratted first draft of roughly 90,000 words is finished. I did fall into one section and thought I would never climb back out! Now, that first draft is done -- complete with photos, maps, drawings, notes, and questions mixed throughout the story. 

I stepped away from immediate revision and let the rough draft rest for two whole weeks while my beta reader reads. I remained in limbo, between writing and actually revising, uncertain of the next step to take -- until an e-mail from Kristin Kieffer at She Writes popped into my inbox, inviting me to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. 

Now July 1st marks my first ever immersion into Camp Nanowrimo. 

This morning well before anyone else woke up, I printed out the first 25 single-spaced pages and dug in. How exhilarating! 

What's my process? 
  1. Print those pages.
  2. Read the first chapter out loud.
  3. Stop whenever something doesn't sound right and make notes or revise with a pen right on the paper. **
  4. Read aloud. Repeat #3.
  5. Repeat #4.
  6. Reread from the beginning until this chapter is 'finished'.
  7. Move on to the next chapter.
** Those who know me well know I work primarily on the computer, so writing notes on paper slows me down and lets me 'see' what needs revision. I also keep a daily work diary for notes on characters, or missing research, or unanswered questions, or just random thoughts. 

Somehow being accountable to Camp Nanowrimo to report those words completed/time spent revising each day sets me up for the entire month. I may not finish all revisions by month end, but I will be closer to that goal of completing this story, Rivers of Stone, the third book about the indomitable McDonnell family.

And that's the point. We go forward, develop processes that work for us, share what we learn, and we write. We writers are part of a larger online community of writing challenges and resources. I'm grateful for every nudge, every word of encouragement, every tip for success. 

This afternoon, a woman who looked vaguely familiar stopped me to ask, "When will your next book be ready to read?"

If she only knew. Just maybe by the end of the year!

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