Friday, January 22, 2010

Follow Your Fun

Margie Gelbwasser came up with "Follow your Fun" as a way to look at revision. I love it, so I borrowed it. Thanks, Margie.

Yesterday Nisa asked me if there would be a Part II to my "symptoms and prescriptions" for revision. She asked for some tips to make revision FUN. Whoa, the pressure... Well, I gave it some thought, did some searching, and here are my favorite suggestions. Nisa, this one's for you!


  • Treat the revision process as an adventure. Allow yourself to have bad days (what heroes don't?), and let yourself experiment and fail and try again. Everything you do or try has value. You never know where those "aha!" moments will come from.
  • To help you see your writing differently, change the font, change the font size, change the color, and/or the s p a c i n g. You can play with font as often as you like, because it's so easy to change it back.
  • Create a cover for your manuscript (something Bethany does very well, so she's a great resource for this) and then write a back cover critic's review for it. Feel free to gush about your book - no one needs to see it but you. The point: give yourself something positive to look at when you're feeling frustrated.
  • Move around. Don't limit yourself to the same working space day after day after day. You don't want your revision efforts to feel like solitary confinement. Sit in your favorite chair, go to your favorite coffee shop or local hang-out, work in the tub with some bubbles and soft music... whatever is relaxing or different.
  • Create colorful posters for your collections: pictures to represent characters or trigger memories, sticky notes and diagrams, plot outlines... feel free to decorate the entire room. Turn your revision space into a revision factory!
  • Make yourself a revision "survival kit". Include things like colored pens and highlighters, colored sticky notes in various sizes, your favorite beverages and treats, maybe some music or hand lotion. Again, be creative!
  • Assign yourself a few specific tasks each time you revise. Don't try to tackle everything every time. Why set yourself up for a headache?
  • If you are banging your head against the wall, unable to think clear thoughts, TAKE A BREAK. Walk away, eat chocolate, call a friend, read some blogs, whatever - but clear your mind. Set a timer so you don't stop for too long. Breakthroughs come when we least expect them.
  • Save all revisions. If you feel like you're losing the energy in your story, your drafts are your safety net. Go back to the last draft that had energy, that excited you.
  • Think positive! Revision will make your story stronger. YOU have the tools to make it better. Give yourself every motivation you need to dig in and do the work.
  • Spoil yourself. Set small goals along the way and then spoil yourself rotten when you meet them.
Here are a few links to some other good lists of ideas:

37 comments:

Sliding on the Edge said...

It seems we're writing about the same thing, only in a different fashion. Thanks for the hints. If you don't mind I'd like to link to your post for my next entry on The Write Game. My readers would like more about revision.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Go for it, Sliding. It's always a compliment to have your posts shared with others. Thanks! :-)

Natalie Murphy said...

Great post sweetie! I loved it! All of these things would also work for people struggling with the writing part too.

Jonathon Arntson said...

You've helped me stop sneering when I say the word revision and start daydreaming.

Kelly Lyman said...

These were great! Thanks for posting. I'm in a revising rut as we speak, so I think I'm going to put some of your tips to the test!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I'm good at taking breaks, eating and blogging between writing and editing. Probably too good!

Nisa said...

You are so awesome! I didn't expect part II so quickly! And I loved it! I'm definitely going to try some of these because revisions have me dragging my feet. Big time.

Wendy (aka quillfeather). said...

This is seriously a great post! Will be marking it with a star in Google Reader :)

Bane of Anubis said...

Taking a break is the hardest thing to do, IMO, but probably the most important (well, other than thinking positive).

Falen said...

I like to buy myself a brand new fun colored pen! Then i am ready to roll!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Natalie - Thanks, Natalie. You're absolutely right! :)

Jonathon - Aww, that is so sweet! Thanks.

Kelly - Good luck. Let me know how they work for you.

Sherrie - That is me exactly. You don't want to know how much chocolate I eat when I'm on a writing roll!

Nisa - You were my first post "request". I can't let a loyal blogger like you down, can I? I hope you find some of them useful :-)

Wendy - Wow. Thanks Wendy! :)

Bane - sadly, I'm way to good at taking breaks. Sustained focus is more my area of weakness.

Falen - Yay for colored pens and pastel sticky notes!

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for this, Shannon. It seems a lot of us are in the midst of revisions right now.

Heather Zundel said...

Those ARE fun ideas! I'm really liking a lot of them. This is so cool.

Jemi Fraser said...

That's some great advice, Shannon! Revisions can be tough to gear up for - even when we know the end result is worth it.

Niki said...

Great post! and thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog :o)

Catherine Denton said...

I'm all for fun! I especially love the idea of making a cover.
Winged Writer

Meredith Rae Morgan said...

I am one of those sick individuals who likes revising almost (but not quite) as much as I like writing brand new content in the first place. Your point number one is why: I see revision as an opportunity (or, actually, multiple opportunities) to have an adventure in bringing my story to life.

I labor over verbs on one pass. I eliminate adverbs on another pass. I work on dialog on another pass. Then I get disgusted with the whole story and put it aside for a few weeks, or even months.

Then one day I open the document again and say to myself, "This has possibilities!" Then I start over editing.

Eventually, the story reaches the point where I feel ready to share it. That doesn't mean it's perfect: it's just as good as I can make it.

Editing is fun.

Bethany Mattingly said...

Awesome list, I'll keep it all in mind when I edit once again.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Wow! Your blog is always so informative. I'm inspired to get back at it now! And thanks for the great links!

Sharon Mayhew said...

I love the idea of doing a cover and jacket flap for your book. What a great way to renew yourself as you revise. Wonderful post, Shannon!

Tracy said...

I think any tips that include eating chocolate should definitely be used! Great post.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Now that definitely sounds like fun. Who said revision had to be torture? :) And yes, the chocolate, a definite must!

Jackee said...

These are great ideas! I find that I get so distracted from the actual writing/revising that I keep a notepad next to me to write down all the fun things (and have to do things) so I can do them later. But some of these are definitely worth trying!

VR Barkowski said...

This is a fantastic post, Shannon! Thank you. I was a little skeptical at first - the juxtaposition of fun and editing was suspect, but now I'm a convert. Great ideas here. I especially like the spoil yourself part. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Elle - Revision does seem to be the hot topic these days.

Heather - I'm glad you like the tips!

Jemi - That is so true, Jemi!

Niki - You're welcome, and right back at ya! :)

Catherine - Fun is always good!

Meredith - That's a great attitude, Meredith. More of us need to look at it that way.

Bethany - Thanks, Bethany.

Terry - Thank you Terry, and you're welcome.

Sharon - I thought that was a fun idea too. :)

Tracy - I agree. You can NEVER go wrong with chocolate.

Roxane - Thank you, Roxane. Don't forget to add the coffee.

Jackee - The notepad is a great idea. I'm always thinking about things I shouldn't when I'm trying to write.

V.R. - Thanks, V.R. I'm so glad I could convert you. LOL! I like the spoil yourself idea too. Any excuse to go shopping works for me. :)

Natalie said...

These are great ideas Shannon. They make me excited to revise!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I do not resist rewriting any more than I resist writing. Today, I am doing both, writing and a bit of resisting, and doing many of the suggestions you lise. Now, where is my stash of chocolate? Doing something physical, like a walk, or cleaning some area of the house, seems to be a good break from the head work. Today, it's mostly rewriting and organizing the office.

Vivian said...

Great tips, Shannon! Revision is hard work but so worth the efforts. Good luck!

Guinevere said...

This was great... I used to do a lot of these things when I was a kid/teen writing, just for fun (like designing the cover, playing with font and design, etc) but I've moved away from that sort of thing as I've become more "serious" about my writing. Yet I don't think I've become more productive... Also, love the idea of spoiling yourself along the way. I am seeing pedicures and cupcakes in my future.

Love it. Now back to my revisions!

Janna Qualman said...

These are all such great pointers. Thanks!

And thanks too, Shannon, for contributing to our story! I cut off comments and additions this morning, thinking it's a good place to start wrapping up. Look for our completed story sometime next week!

Suzette Saxton said...

I love this post! For me revising has always been fun. I see it as a chance to fall in love with my book all over again. Thanks for the tips that help make that happen!

Mary Campbell said...

Wow - these are some great tips. I'll have to come back and refresh my memory on them when I'n ready to edit.

Erica said...

Great post! Those are fabulous ideas. I would have so much fun making a book cover :o)

Mandy said...

Great post! Revsions...fun? I'd never have thought so, but after a whirlwind two weeks and a great new crit partnership, I have to agree with you. Revisions can be fun!

Mandy said...

Great post! Revsions...fun? I'd never have thought so, but after a whirlwind two weeks and a great new crit partnership, I have to agree with you. Revisions can be fun!

Southern Princess said...

How did I miss that you updated??? Love the post! Wonderful tips..when I start new revisions on my WIP I will be sure to reference this post!
;o)

Charmaine Clancy said...

What great tips! Just when I needed them.

I love visiting here it's such a cute blog.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...