Zabowska's Blog

December 15, 2009

Discovering your Completion Patterns for Manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — zabowska @ 12:10 am

   Discovering what tricks help you to complete your writing projects and
   what makes you not finish them can really help to boast your productivity as
   a writer. I know that it really did help me when I became aware of certain
   patterns of action and laxity in my behaviors and revision habits.
   Let me first focus on my habitual pattern for completing projects and
   where the problems start to arise. I usually have absolutely no difficulty
   writing a first draft of any article or book/novel. However, around the fourth
   or fifth stage of the revisionary process, I become quite frustrated and bored.
   Let me explain.
   First, I give myself a definite time line to have a manuscript revised. If it is
   a book or novel, I give typically myself six weeks. If it is an article or story, I
   give myself two weeks. After this time, I put the manuscript away for at least
   a couple of weeks before tackling revision number two.
   Second, since I know that second revisions are the difficult for me to get
   through because of boredom, I break up the task into smaller units. So, for
   instance for every hour that I revise, I spend another half hour writing
   something new. That works wonders in keeping me from getting bored.
   Third, once I have gotten through my second revision of a manuscript, I
   put the manuscript away for about a month. Then I give myself a spa
   afternoon as a reward for a job well done. I take the afternoon off and go for
   a manicure or pedicure. I also take the time to meditate and just do the things
   that I love. This is my reward for working through the second draft. 
   Fourth, after a few weeks, I go over the manuscript again. This time I just
   sit and read the whole thing as if I was an editor. I look for inconsistencies
   and redundancies and I just make sure that everything is in place. This is
   the most difficult stage in the revision process for me. Since I know that I
   have easily given up during this stage of revision in the past, I give myself a
   reward in the middle of the revision. I usually go out for lunch with a few
   friends or I do something special that really makes me happy. This way, I
   find it much easier to finish up the revision and put it aside.
      It is after this revision that I send the manuscript to my critique group for
   evaluation and assessment. This is the point at which I need feedback from
   others. Then it is time to do my last and final revision. For myself, this is
   usually the time that I abandon projects. I don’t quite know why yet. But I
   have at least five manuscripts in a filing cabinet that I have abandoned at this
   stage. For some reason, these projects just weren’t interesting or viable any
   more. And that is a real pity, because they were so CLOSE to being
   completely revised and sent out.  I am working on the habits and attitudes
   behind this  stage of revision to make sure that I can send off these
   What are your patterns of completion and incompletion for manuscripts?
   It may be really helpful to you to determine what they are so that you could
   avoid some of the pitfalls in the future.

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