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To revise.

If there are two words that stir dread in this writer, it’s these. I know, I know, I’m supposed to love to revise. (And I do, in the same way I “love” other things that are good for me, like yogurt and kale.) To revise is to make new–and hopefully better. Back to the drawing board. A new lease, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s the thing: revision requires imagination (Daily Prompt).

Revision demands that we unplug from everything but our WIP and allow the mind–and the plot and character and theme, etc.–to change. A WIP off course! Yes, this can–and even should–happen when we revise. Call it giving over control to the muse or your writer’s instinct or your better judgement, but it does require a loss of control.

Oh, we’ll be in control of our WIPs again. We just have to wait for the editing phase. Can’t rush these phases, though (so says my chapter three I’m currently re-seeing). The late, great Donald M. Murray tells us so, too:

We confuse revision, which is re-seeing, re-thinking, re-saying with editing which is making sure the facts are accurate, the words are spelled correctly, the rules of grammar and punctuation are followed.

–from Donald M. Murray‘s classic, The Craft of Revision

A tribute to Murray from a former writing student

*Photo taken from my village’s community pier. (Credit: Bill Moon. Thanks, Dad!) This foggy scene seemed right for this post, since working through a revision often feels like charting a course through thick fog!

Are you revising at the moment? Does it require a leap of the imagination for you? Weigh in here.

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17 thoughts on “The imagination in revision

  1. You cant go through your life and not “re-think” or “revise” your thoughts, feelings and spiritual connections. You might still have the same view but taking the journey allows us to see things the way they are now.

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    1. Well put! One of the things I struggle with, in regards to my WIP (a historical novel manuscript) is that I started writing it a long time ago. I’ve become a better writer–and I hope also a better thinker–in the meantime. Some of revision is about catching up what I’ve written with what I now think. An important journey for writing and for life, you’re so right.

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  2. Yes, revision – argh, what a drag! Even after I got a beta reader to give me wonderful tips on what to do, I’m dragging my feet – many months later, and my dearest main character is getting cold and lonely! If you have tips on how to take one baby step at a time, do let me know!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you! So funny that I received this comment from you as I was listening to an interview with author David Giffels (I recently interviewed him for my blog). He was talking about the typical hard work, and even drudgery, of writing–that he might have to slog through five hours before he feels like he got a little something good out of it. I think, all we can do is begin. And when we get stalled by life, begin again. Dive in–in your boat/water terms! I’ve devoted a category on my blog to “writerly advice,” but much of it boils down to just doing it. Not that I always take the advice I spew! I received very constructive feedback on the umpteenth revision of the first 50 pages of my novel manuscript, and there it sits weeks later. And our characters do get cold, I think. It’s hard to keep the energy (or heat) up, once we step away for a while. Let’s encourage each other. I’m following your wonderful blog! Hope to hear you’re back with your MC soon!

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