Monday, April 22, 2013

Am I a Work-in-Progress?

Okay, so I'm in the throes of a major rewrite/revision. I think it's the biggest one I've ever done on one of my novels, both published and unpublished--and that's saying something, because I did massive amounts of editing on my published novels.

So I was looking back through some of my revision/rewriting posts, thinking I'd "see how it's done" and maybe re-post one of them for today.

As I did so, I realized something. I don't revise the same way I used to.

Imagine my shock! My mind was suddenly buzzing: What's changed? Am I better now? Or worse? Oh my heck, am *I* a work-in-progress?

I think we are. And I think it's a good thing. The more I've been thinking about it, the more I've been realizing that heck, yes, I better have changed how I'm doing things! I've learned so much from being professionally edited. I've learned from reading craft books, and regular novels, and being entrenched in the business of storytelling.

I actually think it would be sad if I revised a novel now the exact same way I did three years ago. I'm happy to say that yes! I am a work-in-progress, and I have grown and changed.

My revision process now is done on a much more holistic level. I used to separate my novel into thirds and work on paper. I suppose I might still do that, if the novel required it. But I find that I haven't printed a novel to revise it for a long time. I simply work on the computer.

Three years ago, I had no idea what set pieces were, and now I meticulously check my percentages to make sure my midpoint moment happens at the midpoint, and my act breaks are placed appropriately.

I've also found that I go much slower than I used to. I have specific projects I'm passionate about, and they deserve the time required to get them right (this is pretty ironic, considering that the most massive rewrite/revision I'm currently doing is on a time travel novel. Time... get it... the time travel novel deserves time... Okay, nevermind).

So tell me. Are you a work-in-progress?

25 comments:

JeffO said...

Oh, yeah, big time. I think about how I wrote my first attempt at a novel (a NaNo), then my first REALLY finished novel, and then the next one, and there's definitely an evolution in the process. If I keep at it long enough, I figure I'll find the way that works best and will stick to it. Or maybe not. Maybe it will keep changing over time.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I like to consider it a "Learning Curve." The more we do something, the better we get at it. And getting better means changing. You discover what works and what doesn't and go from there. I've done it in every job I've ever had. I expect no less from writing.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You sound exactly like me. My current WIP is being edited differently than my last one. That is in part thanks to your recommendation for the Editor-Proof Your Writing book. My process evolves with each novel. And just when I think I've figured it out, I find another book that causes me to rethink things.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, I've found I'm growing as a writer as I go. I've started a new project and I can tell my writing from the get go is a lot better than my first manuscript.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Absolutely, I'm a WIP. When I quite learning and growing and changing, I'll be dead.

mshatch said...

I think we are all works in progress, trying to evolve in one way or the other. And I know my writing self is a work in progress and probably always will be.

Angela Brown said...

You're right. We should always be a work in progress. Always learning something new, improving upon a process, gaining something from some new fangled idea. Always.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

This makes me so happy because I am reworking and reworking a very pivotal part of my book and have been frustrated that it isn't going well. But it is a work in progress and so am I in many capacities, and faster isn't always better. Better is better.

Teresa Coltrin said...

If we're not a work in progress (lifetime member) then stop the presses.

We need to grow.

Liesel Hill said...

I agree that everyone is. Like you, I'm doing an overhaul editing job on something I wrote years ago. The last time I looked at it, I edited as well as I could. Now, I look at it and groan. I have SO much work to do, so obviously I edit differently these days, but I think I'm much better than I used to be, so it's a good thing. :D

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Oh, yes. Can't wait to work with my new editor and learn how I've changed. :)

Emily R. King said...

Yes I am! And thank God for that, right? I mean, who wants to stay the same writer? I'm glad you can see your growth, Elana!

ilima said...

Yes! In fact, I had a recent realization that I'm drafting differently than I used to, and am finally okay with that.

Marsha Sigman said...

We are all a work-in-progress.ha

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Better to be a work-in-progress until we die than stuck in a rut going nowhere, right? :D I'm in the middle of an intense rewrite, and I do mean re-write. I read a comment recently from John Green that he almost totally rewrites his first drafts, and that gave me courage and a sense that I'm not lame or whatever, just growing and evolving.

Jessie Humphries said...

I am definitely a work in progress. I am a toddler learning to walk. I am newborn calf trying to stand up. I am an insane person who uses strange metaphors. And I posted about you today on my blog. Thought you should know. :)

Stasia said...

I definitely feel that my process is continually evolving--and that I am continually questioning it. Great post!

Patti said...

Each time I revise, it's different, because of all the things I've learned in between.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I'm perfect. Kidding! I feel like I am making progress as I move along in life. *grins*

Jen Daiker said...

Hey girl! I think I'll always be a work in progress. It's good to know through time we can change our habits, though often times they're replaced with other difficult tasks to overcome.

I'm blessed to have met a wonderful editor who taught me so much in such a short amount of time.

Let us hope that this work in progress continues to grow into agenthood and still travels through the world of revisions one book at a time!

Rechelle Owens, Romance Author said...

We are all WIP's and that is a god thing. That means we are growing into better writers!

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so glad you all agree! For a minute there, I thought I must be the only one that still has SO MUCH to learn!

Nicole said...

You're definitely not alone. I think I'll always be learning. That's part of the fun, right? :)

Sara B. Larson said...

I think we are all works in progress--and if we aren't, that's actually a big problem! It's that whole "if you're not progressing, you're digressing" thing, right? I'm always learning new things or changing how I work. So glad to know I'm not alone! (And good luck with the huge revision!!)

nissa_loves_cats said...

Is it possible to be a work in regress? Things that I once could do simply are now more complicated. Perhaps because I now see more than one way to do so many things.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget