Do you find yourself sitting down to write, intending to get through an entire chapter, only to spend an entire hour going back through what you’ve already written and making small changes?
This is what I like to call the ‘Revision Bug’—a negative routine you get into where you can’t stop revising your work instead of actually writing. It happens to me all the time, and I know it happens to tons of other writers too.
It’s a tricky little thing to overcome, but today we’re going to look into how we can beat it:
1) Set Yourself Deadlines
Be disciplined in your writing routine and stick to a schedule. If you’ve got a deadline fast approaching, you’ll be less likely to fool around and more likely to get some writing done.
Ways that you can further implement this and create some pressure to hit your goals are to find an Accountability Partner. Basically, if you get someone to hold you to your deadlines, you’ll be more inclined to show up with that first draft you said you were going to have by June, instead of trying to edit as you go.
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2) Use Page Markers
Maybe you’re someone who just can’t ignore mistakes and has to do something about it.
I feel you, friend.
Here’s an idea—print out each chapter as you write it and go through it, then use page markers or tabs to mark places you want to come back to. You can even colour code this to make it easier. (e.g. pink for characters, yellow for dialogue, blue for settings, etc.)
An alternative way to do this if you don’t have a printer available (or just want to save the trees) is to highlight parts of your manuscript in your writing program. Or, I think Scrivener has tools where you can arrange chapters, meaning you could arrange the sections you want to edit (I’ve never used Scrivener though so don’t quote me on that—I’m a Microsoft Word gal myself).
3) Figure Out Why You Keep Revising
I’m not going to lie—writing is hard, and revising is a great way to make you feel busy without actually being productive. So ask yourself why you’d rather procrastinate the actual writing process than write your story.
Writing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but a lot of the time it is fun, and it should be fun! So if you’re finding it difficult, or you’re unmotivated, there might be a deeper, underlying issue you need to address. Sit down for ten minutes and write out how writing feels right now, how your story feels. Have you hit a road block? Are you facing an issue you’ve never faced before? Figure out where you’re struggling and then take action steps towards fixing it.
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Written by Pagan Malcolm
Pagan is a copywriter and business coach helping writers understand the business side of publishing so that they can become serious authors.