I love, love, love revisions. Yes, I realize that makes me an outlier in the writer world, but I can’t help it. I love taking raw, messy material and molding it into something readable. Because my first drafts? Those things aren’t readable. But once my manuscripts go through a few rounds of heavy revisions, they finally start to look nice, and that is such a fantastic feeling.
But I’ve discovered that revising on a deadline isn’t quite as enjoyable. It’s higher stakes with higher stress, and it easily becomes overwhelming. The bad news? Deadlines are unavoidable in the traditional publishing world. The good news? Deadlines don’t have to make the revision process miserable, and there’s some good to be gotten out of them. So here’s five tips to survive revising on a deadline:
- Trust that having a deadline will ultimately make you a better writer. As soon as I realized this, it made the deadline a lot less painful to work around. I learned so much having to dive head-first into my revisions without days or weeks of planning. It was a crash-course in editing quickly and effectively, and I’m walking away with a bunch of new skills to apply to my next manuscript. Also, I feel that it made some of the revisions come more naturally, since I didn’t have time to stop and second-guess every decision I made.
- Tell your friends and family about your deadline. Yes, even your friends and family who aren’t writers and really don’t get the whole “writer thing.” Publishing is a business just like any other, and if you’re on a deadline, the people around you need to respect that. And they also deserve an explanation for why you’ll be an anti-social hermit for two whole weeks. (Plus, if you whine enough about the deadline, they might take pity and bring you chocolate.)
- Organize and prioritize your revision notes. I divide mine scene by scene, then in order of importance. The large revisions I tackle first, because they take the most energy. Once I’m done with those and my mind is fuzzed with exhaustion, I can tackle the small, simple things leftover.
- Take care of yourself. It’s tempting to pull all-nighters and guzzle ten energy drinks every day, but resist the urge. Eat healthy, exercise daily, and sleep a good amount. Those little things add up to make your mind sharper and your revisions more effective. They also keep you healthy and full of energy for future writing endeavors.
- Find the first draft of the oldest story you wrote, and print out a couple pages to keep next to your writing space. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but it can really boost your morale to look at your old writing and see how far you’ve progressed. Sometimes when you’re stuck in the trenches of revisions, you can’t help thinking that your manuscript is the worst thing ever. So it’s helpful to have old writing to compare to, and to realize that you really have come so far. (Plus, if your old writing is anything like mine, it also makes for a good laugh!)
Olivia Rivers is a Young Adult author who writes in multiple genres, ranging from Epic Fantasy to Contemporary Romance. Her fascination with technology led her to become a hybrid author, meaning some of her works are independently published, while others are traditionally published. She has a passion for representing diversity, and you’ll often find disabled main characters in her novels. Olivia is represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.