As any writer knows, it’s possible to revise forever. At some point you need to decide it’s done and move on to another project.
Two years ago, I found myself endlessly revising blog articles. The following two paragraphs outline my dilemma and solution.
I revise my writing too much. I know this because I find myself getting bored of endlessly revising articles. It seems like I’m going around and around the same group of 50 or 60 articles eternally. An article idea must have a couple of hundred words before I promote it to a first draft. The first draft must be worked on until it’s long enough and has all the components that make an article. Then, I have four revisions before I’m willing to call it finished. Even when I go through the finished articles, I won’t release them as blog posts until I’m certain they are good enough.
The endless revisions must end. But, I don’t want to stop writing. What to do? A different kind of writing is the answer. A different subject. A switch between fiction and non-fiction. A switch between articles and a book.
Step 1: Files for Writing Ideas
That entry was the first in my writing ideas file. I began putting new article ideas into idea files instead of starting more articles. I created three files; fiction ideas, psychology article ideas, and writing article ideas. The problem of too many ideas increasing the number of articles-in-progress was solved. They would now automatically decrease unless I deliberately created a new article.
Step 2: What Do I Want to Write?
At the time of the above quote, I was working on both psychology articles and writing articles. What did I most enjoy writing? Articles about writing better and faster.
I changed my priority to finishing a writing blog post each day. A psychology article could follow if there was time. This cut my article writing workload in half.
Step 3: Set an Articles-in-Progress Limit
As the number of articles-in-progress dropped, I needed to set a point when I would add more articles from the writing ideas file. I picked 10 so that I wouldn’t see the same files too often with the five revisions I was doing. That’s the next solution.
Step 4: Escape the Endless Revisions
The long-established multiple draft process is three revisions: rough draft, second revision, and final revision. I changed my revisions to those three. An article became rough draft as soon as all the information was written. The second revision became all four of my old secondary revisions at once: add, cut, readability, and typos. The final revision became a final review before publishing. This sped up my article writing immensely.
Step 5: An Article a Day
I write every day. I used to start by writing in a journal as a warm up. Once I set a goal of writing an article a day, I soon got to a point where I could start my day with an article instead of a journal entry.
Not long ago, I also read an article about reducing your number of writing projects. My 10 articles had been 10 rough draft articles and numerous second draft articles. I switched it to 5 rough draft articles and 5 second draft articles.
Once I finish my article for the day, I can write more articles, work on my novel, or forget writing for the day. An article a day is a good writing achievement in itself.
When I write an article a day and don’t post one every day, my writing article posts build up. Tips on how to write faster and better don’t get old. When I have enough articles to get me through posting regularly during a novel revision, I’ll make writing a chapter of my novel a daily goal and it will be articles that follow at my option.
When the novel revision is done, article writing will return to first place until I again have a big enough archive to cover the time for the next novel revision.
I’m already finishing articles regularly. With this plan, I will also be finishing novels at a good pace. Someday.
Endless Novel Revision
I’m working on escaping endless novel revision as well. It has been a long hard lesson, but I’m finally converted to the full multiple revision process. My next novel will use a synopsis and outline right from the beginning. Used correctly, those two documents will allow me to finish it in the usual three drafts.
Do you find yourself endlessly revising your writing?
Article by Ivan Izo.