Shelley Widhalm

Procrastinating in Writing

In 52: A Writer's Life, Revising, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on October 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

I used to consider myself a non-procrastinator, but maybe my self-view is a bit inaccurate.

In December 2012, I finished my literary novel “The Fire Painter” and set it aside for a month before my first revision. I figured I could finish the revisions by late spring, but now it is fall 2013, and I still have a couple more revisions to go.

To say that, for me, it takes a year to write and a year to revise isn’t entirely accurate either. Rather, I spent a year on my rough draft and another year – or close to it – avoiding the revision process.

I love my novel (I may be the only one who does so), but I really don’t want to read it again. I’ve read (and revised) it four times, more than any of my favorite novels, such as any of Jane Austen’s, Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” or “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” by Jamie Ford.

My not wanting to encounter the same story a third, fourth and fifth time could be yet another excuse.

Revising is painful, tedious and not-writing (unless you’re rewriting a scene or the whole book). It’s a matter of editing, copy-editing, fact checking, checking for accuracies and consistencies, and evaluating all the elements of story, including plot, character and setting.

It’s making sure the voice is compelling, the story is amazing and the plot falls together perfectly.

And it’s trying to craft that next breakout novel that makes the bestseller list with an original story, a new twist on a trend or a character not yet seen in literature.

At this stage of the writing process, revising and editing is work that takes a lot of time, motivation and effort.

And the motivation is where I find a personal lack. I can think of other things to do (even organizing something that doesn’t need organizing), as well as reasons why now isn’t the time to edit.

My excuses include:

• I should wait some more time because, as they say, you need to set your book aside.
• I already know the story too well, so I won’t find anything to change.
• I wish someone else would tell me how to fix whatever is wrong.

Despite these excuses, I eventually will go through yet another revision, set my book aside for a long period and make more excuses before returning to it again.

Why?

Because I’m a writer, and part of writing is revising, whether I like it or not.

(See next week’s blog on how I faced this next revision.)

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