WARNING: Revisions ahead!


Photo By: Albert

Originally posted at: http://www.timothyafenner.com


Mister Revision.

I hate that guy. Like his identical twins — edit, rewrite, and tweak — he wastes my time and keeps me from doing the things I want to do.

Sadly, as you all likely know, revision is a fundamental aspect of writing. If there is such a thing as a writing prodigy, I’m clearly not one of them and, while I have no statistics,  I doubt there are many writers who are.

So this “revision” thing is a necessity. Fine. But how do you do it without getting trapped in Revision Hell (ie being stuck in a never-ending revision process)?

There are MANY articles online that have suggestions on how to keep from straying into the bad lands — but I wish to focus on one particular area that has come up in my writers group several times:

When should revisions start?

Like many a writer before me, I’ve fallen into the trap of revising before it was time. I realize there are many schools of thought on when that appropriate time is, but for me, the only time its appropriate to do any kind of revision is…


I have seen and experience the hell that is being stuck in an infinite loop of revision the same chapter, section — hell, even paragraphs during the first draft process. My trouble zone was the first chapter, especially those pesky opening lines. I’d get stuck for days, weeks, even months on trying to make it perfect — when I should have been focusing my time on getting the story written.


Because the story, once fully written, might require changes to be made to the beginning, even the first few lines of the story. So all that time revising could and, likely would, end up being a complete waste if the unfinished story requires something different in the end.

My advice to anyone who’s writing a first draft: Do not revise until the first draft is finished!

Hopefully, that tidbit of advice saves you from the hell most writers have to experience firsthand before they will take action to avoid it.