This term I had to deal with the thing that writers all over the world cringe at a single mention of it...
It is a messy, messy affair, and something that I didn't know how to go about because I'd never finished a story before (Yikes!). So, I read books, and read posts, and asked fellow classmates and authors to prepare myself for this horrible task. The books turned out to be overwhelming, the posts had a million different opinions, and other writers didn't give straight answers. I wanted a formula, a checklist, something to make this as painless as possible. In other words...I was delusional.
There's no such thing as painless revisions.
It is messy AND painful. Ripping apart chapters, deleting characters, seeing that word count—the one you sweated blood for and tore your hair out to get to that 80k (or more) mark—go down. It's not pretty. But I'm getting ahead of myself. As I said, before I started to massacre my novel, there was one step everyone agreed I should do. And that was to read the whole manuscript without changing a thing to get a general sense of your novel.
I couldn't do it.
The thing is I’m a very OCD person and sometimes the simplest things like not fixing what is wrong immediately initiates the most dreaded writer's block. But I tried. I really really tried reading without changing things, but I couldn’t. My hand had a life of its own. Those fingers would snatch the pen from my desk and before I knew it, the page would be bleeding red or purple. I kept thinking, ‘This is wrong. I shouldn’t be doing this. This is SO wrong.”
And thus the mental blockage ensued.
Luckily, I found Chuck Wendig's posts about editing, and after reading his
collection of posts called Edit Your Shit: Part 1 and the subsequent Parts 2 and 3, I realized something...
Not every writing method out there has to be MY method.
It was one of those Eureka! moments that leave you completely
embarrassed at your mental capacity for not having figured it out
before. A big fat DUH. The thing is...Just because 95% of the writers out there read the whole manuscript before diving into revisions, does not mean I have to do the same. I wasn’t comfortable with it, yet I pushed myself because this was ‘how it was done.’ Well no! I am different. I am that awkward 5% that doesn't follow every rule, yet can write and revise as well as any other. And that it OK.
Lesson one: There can be a 'how it’s done' in writing, but ultimately it is done the way it works for me.
Lesson two: Have a writer issue? Read a Wendig post and the world will be brighter again.