As member of The Madrona Workshop Troupe, my focus is on helping writers revise and edit their work. If you are working on a piece of writing and are hoping to see it published one day, you will most likely need to do some revising. In preparation for the revision process, you need to get some distance from your work and shift your perspective. Here are a few ideas to help you get ready.
As you write you are immersed in the world of your book; your focus is tight and narrow. When you’ve completed your first draft and are preparing to revise it, you need to take several steps back and open up your view. If you are going to be able to effectively evaluate your own work, you need to first distance yourself from
it. As Susan Bell says in her wonderful book, The Artful Edit, “You must achieve a transparent view of your material that derives from having emotional and psychological distance from it.”
Here are a few ideas for creating the distance needed to shift your perspective and to see your work with a critical eye.
1)Time: Give yourself time. Put the manuscript away and don’t look at it for several weeks. When you pick it up again, you’ll be less familiar with it and more able to read it with the surprise of a first time reader. If you don’t have the luxury of a few weeks or even months, give yourself as much time as you can.
2) Mode: Do your revising in a different mode than you did your original writing. If you’re a pen-and-paper writer, type your manuscript into a document on your computer and do your revising there. If you wrote your first draft on the computer, print out the pages and do your revising by hand on a hardcopy. Or, if you are
reluctant to print out the full 350 pages of your manuscript, considerer changing the font to give the whole thing a different look. If you created the work in Times New Roman, revise it in Calibri or Arial; your writing will seem
less familiar. By giving your words a different physical setting, you can change your relationship to them.
3) Space: Change your physical location when you revise. If you have one space in your home or office where you write, that may not be the best place to do revision work. Find somewhere else that has a different ambiance, perhaps different lighting or sound, so that other parts of your brain are awakened and you can nudge yourself out of any ruts associated with your work.
Once you’ve gained some distance from your work, you will be ready to begin the re-visioning process.