One way to organize your next revision

December 8, 2010

I’m super excited about revising my manuscript again, and incorporating suggestions from my agent. But unlike my first 86 revisions, this time it’s not the changes that are daunting. This time, it’s finding the time to make those changes.

Oh, whiteboard, what would I do without you?

Between my full-time journalism job and my part-time social media business, I no longer have entire days to dedicate to my writing. I’m hoping to write on Sundays, or at least on Sunday afternoons. And hopefully half an hour here or there on weekday evenings, after my other work is done. But it feels like so little writing time compared with what I had for the last year and a half, when I worked on this book full time.

So here’s my strategy: I’m approaching the revision piece by piece. I’ve got a list on my whiteboard of all of the changes I want to make, and I’ll cross them off, one by one. That way, even if I only have twenty minutes on a Monday night, I can revise a small chunk. Eventually, all of those chunks will add up to a full revision. Bird by Bird, right?

My goal is to complete the revision by the end of January, if not sooner. Because the sooner I finish, the sooner we approach publishers! Now that’s motivation.

If you work full time and write on the side, I’d love to hear how you make it work.

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    11 Replies to “One way to organize your next revision”

    • Bird by bird, indeed! Great advice.

      I used to work full-time and write on the side (I’m currently doing the unemployed/freelance thing), so my strategy was similar to yours – fitting it in where I could, tackling one thing at a time.

    • First of all, I LOVE Anne Lamott!

      To fit in my writing, I let the housework slide a little (to a point!), skip TV, and set really small, manageable goals. I do get frustrated sometimes about how long it takes to make progress, but on the other hand, I always bring something new to manuscript whenever I come back to it.

    • Rather, to my manuscript. I hate typos. 🙂

    • I stay home with my sons… 4 and 17 months. I have a low maintenance PR client, a monthly column and various other freelance jobs. I can manage that work, and my blog, during the day. But I have a difficult time trying to write my memoir in the midst of the constant interruptions. I’ve looked at my days and tried on a million different writing schedules. The only time where no one bothers me is right now (at night… my writing time starts in three minutes.) And I sneak away for a few hours on the weekends. It helps for me to set deadlines and goals for myself, otherwise, I’d be asleep right now. Anyways, I appreciate your blogs about this process. You are one of the few (make that only) writer I’ve found who has blogged so openly about the memoir writing process. I found you during one of my many Google searches… searching for tips! So thanks. And all the best to you.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Thanks for this, Angie! It always seems to help to know that we’re not alone in our struggle to find time to write during our busy lives! Sneaking away on the weekends sounds wonderful.

    • I’m a firm believer in long, uninterrupted times of focus; I can’t work in short bursts. A while back, I faced similar problems with finding time to write. I would try and accomplish a little bit here and there, but could never find a good chunk of time that allowed me to get “in the zone.”

      So, I started moving my wake up time back in 15 minute increments every week. When I began, I would wake up around 7:30am and be ready at work by 8:00 (no commute since I work from home). But, now I wake up at 4:45am every day (including weekends). By doing so, I’ve been able to get a good 2 hours or more of thinking/writing accomplished every morning.

      I never considered myself a morning person, but moving my alarm time back in 15 minute increments allowed me to ease into it and it’s worked wonders with my productivity.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Wow — Impressive. I love how you carved time out of your day! But here’s what I want to know: What time do you go to bed?!

        • Ha! Good question! I have 2 year old twins, so I’m usually in bed an hour or so after them which is around 9:00-10:00.

          I’ve found that if I try to write in the evenings after they go to sleep, I end up working till midnight or one in the morning simply because I loose track of time. That KILLS my mornings and makes me extremely tired the next day.

          So, by working in the mornings, I’m able to limit my writing time because I shut down and start working at 8:00. It keeps me on a decent sleep schedule and helps keep me from burning-out.

          I’ll admit, the morning gig’s probably not for everyone. But, it’s worked well in my case.

          • angie says:

            Steve, I’ve written in the mornings, too. And I agree what with what you said about writing at night… it does wreck my mornings. My kids are up by 6:30am, but I could begin at 4:30 as long as I’m in bed by 9. And then I could sleep in on the weekends! See, Alexis, I told you I’ve changed my schedule a million times! 🙂

    • This is what worked for me: Being super anti-social so I literally just worked on the weekends. I would put it eight hour days on Saturday and Sunday. While I could do some small editing on weekday evenings, my mind was pretty tired after working all day, so weekends worked much better for me. Good luck! Can’t wait to read the final product! 🙂

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