Write. Revise. Rest. Repeat.

The four “R’s” of writing. Well, five if you count “rejection,” but let’s not go there today. Instead, we’ll focus only on the creative process.

WRITE

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? But sometimes this can be the hardest thing to do. Butt in chair and all that. Dig in and draft, even if you are convinced that your story is crap. You must not only be willing to spend the time getting your story down but also find the clarity of thought that generates the words in the first place. Some writers love this phase, others don’t. Here are some links to help you make that oh-so-important first draft happen:

Love to write but don’t have ideas?

Don’t have time to write?

Get stuck at key points in your manuscript?

REVISE

Unless you are practically perfect in every way, chances are you will need to revise your work. Spelling- and grammar-check can catch a lot of sins (and introduce new ones), but most stories need polish at the story-level as well. Things like structure, character arc, the mix of external and internal conflict. Although revising is a topic worthy of its own Resource Roundup post, here are some links to get you started:

REST

Now that you’ve revised your story to the best of your ability, let it rest. This is always hardest for me – I’m usually so eager to send my story out into the world, convinced it’s as good as it can get. Whether this impulse is out of confidence or impatience, it’s almost always a bad idea. Set it aside, work on something else, send it to a trusted reader. But avoid the temptation to keep tinkering. Come to it with fresh eyes. Your story will thank you.

REPEAT

After you’ve taken a break and are ready to sink your teeth back into your story, you will be better able to objectively evaluate it. Maybe you’ll need to rewrite some sections or start over entirely. Maybe you need to revise some story aspects or revert to older versions. Make the changes. And then (and this is important) let it rest again.

This cycle can repeat indefinitely, but at some point you will either give up or decide you are done. Here are some resources to help you decide when you can put a project to rest:

Happy Writing (or Revising, or Resting, or Repeating…)!
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3 thoughts on “Write. Revise. Rest. Repeat.

  1. Great post 😀 I struggle with the Rest part as well. I'm incapable of stepping away from my manuscript, but I'm that way with everything. When I start something, I am compelled to keep going until I finish. It's kind of annoying really lol.

    I hope your WIP is coming along well 😀

  2. This blog is just an incredibly rich resource. I hardly know where to begin. I haven't read through all your links yet, but I would add: a hint that your ms may not be ready is when you get a high proportion of (rejections) on your queries. This is why I personally favor a middle way when querying: send out a handful. wait for responses. revise query and ms. send out more queries. Quite a bit like the writing cycle you describe above.

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