Friday, June 18, 2010

Stewing in your WIP


Okay, I know I posted about getting all organized to outline a new project.

But my current WIP still calls with more revisions. So I'm back in that stew, thick with sentences that need trimming, dialogue that needs tightening, and a beginning that needs a revision.

My fingers are pruny.

How do you refresh when you've been stewing in a WIP so long you can hardly see straight? Do you take a break and work on something else, or just immerse yourself until the deed is done?

53 comments:

Maria Zannini said...

I start to hate a wip if I stare at it too long.

My trick: Watch a movie, preferably something very textural or atmospheric, like a historical. It ignites my brain with all sorts of ideas I missed earlier.

Then I give it a couple of days before I lay eyes on the wip again.

If I keep flogging it without taking a break, it's just mush.

Vicki Rocho said...

I think there comes a point when you NEED to take a break or you'll just spend more time undoing all your edits later.

You can still THINK about the revisions, though. I do this best while driving, doing dishes, or at the gym. My body is busy, but my mind is free to roam...and things fall into place easier then.

Clara said...

Contrary to common belief (and sense) I immerse myself untill the deed is done. Yes, it makes me sooooooooooooooo incredibly tired, BUT it makes me cranky. And when I´m cranky, I´m very critical. Extremely actually. I can catch the tiniest of flaws.And that´s good for revising, I guess =)

Kindda crazy, I know, but that´s how I roll.

Piedmont Writer said...

I always take a break between final draft and revising/editing. Like a month. I need to get away from it. I can either work on something new, or or just not do anything. I feel it clears my mind and makes me better with the revisions.

Aubrie said...

I definitely need to take a break to see straight. sometimes I think it stews in my mind and I don't even know it. When I come back to it I have fresh ideas. Good luck with your polishing!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I definitely need to step away. If I get to the point where my eyes are going all squonky over a manuscript, then I'm also at the point where I start editing the life out of it. Sometimes I work on something else. Other times I take a reading break and immerse myself in other peoples' words. Whatever I end up doing, I keep doing it until I can go back to the WIP with objective eyes again.

Jess of All Trades said...

I agree with the others here!

I've realized that reading a lot of other stuff sort of helps to clear my vision. Published, un-published from my critique group, poetry, plays...

Then your own writing just becomes another set of words again. Sort of forcing a reboot.

Good luck!

Joanne said...

I try to get through the manuscript, or at least to a good breaking point rather than stop randomly. Then I'll set it aside and go on to smaller writing things, cleaning up Word files, writing blog posts, that sort of thing while the wip simmers. A little time away always works wonders.

Erinn said...

I normally take MONTHS between revisions. I do one draft for two to three months then I take AT LEAST 4-5 months off. I normally do a book binge, (reading as much as I can) or I start a new project or I revise a different WIP.

But I HAVE to have SOMETHING on my plate at ALL times

Jaydee Morgan said...

I need the break time once I finish the first draft. Once revisions begin, I have to continue until they are done. You need to find what works for you :)

E. Arroyo said...

I finally decided to call it quits after this final revision. It's the best I could do right now and I have two others simmering. I hope to get better at the craft as I go along. I think setting a deadline and sticking to it may help. I hope.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I have to take breaks otherwise I get to that point where I can't find anything to change even though I know it ALL needs to change! Having fresh eyes look at it helps.

JEM said...

Initially I was all about diving into revisions, but I'm at the point right now where I'm questioning every line of dialogue, every character interaction, every story arc. So I've stepped out of that and into another story to clear my mind. Like ginger for writers :)

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I take a break, and hand it over to my CP's to look at for awhile. That sounds bad, but I do the same for them. Once I have looked through theirs I can more easily find my own mistakes. If I am really glazed over (like now) I take a full on break except to do small critiques of other work and back off of my own.
I have an award for you today :) even though I think you already got it, I still wanted to give it to you tooooo. have a great weekend :D

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I must be a complete weirdo, because I love the revision stage. I tend to edit in sections though and don't start complete read throughs until the end.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

It helps me to have two or three books at a time. It also helps that I haven't attempted being published yet, because if book #2 needs edits, but I need a break, I edit book #1. By the time I finish that, I'm all fresh and starry-eyed for book #2

Corey Schwartz said...

Yes, definitely take a break and work on something else for a while.

Carol Kilgore said...

Immersion is the only way that works for me. For the past two years, my life has been totally erratic. My plans go awry at a moment's notice. So I've learned to plan to write every day on my WIP. Until my life returns to a somewhat more predictable routine, which I continue to hope is soon, I have no room, time, or focus to think about taking a break from it.

Tahereh said...

sometimes i just have to step away and read another book -- a published book, written by someone else.

the perspective helps.

by the way -- i adore your little graphics on this posts, haha!

Renae said...

I don't like to take a break. I have to know things are complete before I move on to something new.
However with my last MS. I did take a break. I started on something new and then went back and that's when everything just clicked.

Samantha Bennett said...

I'm right there with you in the WIP stew! I'm usually a break taker. :) But when I reach the final fourth, the breaks stop and I kick into high gear. My mind screams, Eeh! Light! I've been in this tunnel for an eternity and now is my chance to emerge!

j.m. neeb said...

I'm also in the "take a break" camp. Sometimes stepping away provides fresh perspective, which is needed to give the stew the right balance of flavors. :)

JustineDell said...

Love the pic. Too cute. I don't normally work on two things at once, so I stew until I make myself finish. I mgiht stop for a day...a week...or a month, but eventually I force myself to finish.

lbdiamond said...

I generally take a break and ask for a fresh pair of eyes to review it. That way, I can get some sense of objectivitiy back.

melissa said...

I really like your blog! I'm a new author and have enjoyed this new experience. I find that it's the most difficult and most rewarding. I'm also a graphic designer and love having that creative outlet as well.
Thanks for your post! I will be back for more updates. :-)

Melissa Nielsen
frommysomewhatseriousmind.blogspot.com www.printhis.biz

Rena said...

I think taking a break helps a lot! Lately, my biggest problem is just finding (or making!) the time to work on my WIP.

Karen Lange said...

I try and take a break, b/c that's about how it goes - you can't see straight and you about know it by heart. Then there's a tendency to skip over stuff...so yes, a break is what helps me. Always love your pictures!
Happy weekend,
Karen

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I try and stop but I tend to need to just push through.
If I'm feeling really wound up I'll do something else, like read, for a bit.

Susan Fields said...

If I'm sick of working on the wip, I do something else for a while. That's why it's great to have more than one project going at once. Usually after a break I'm ready to get back into it.

I hope your fingers deprune soon!

Southpaw said...

I take a step back and work on something else not writing related.

Krispy said...

I'm stubborn, so I tend to do the immersion thing until I really can't take it anymore. When I'm really stuck, I go and do something else - usually NOT writing-related so that my brain can have a rest. I find that epiphanies come when you're head is clear.

Hang in there!

DL Hammons said...

I'm the immerse yourself type. I can't handle multiple projects at one time. :)

Melissa said...

I think you need to take a break. If you let it stew on its own for a while, all the fat and grease and nasty bits will rise to the surface and be way easier for you to get at!

I love your drawings in every post, they always make me giggle.

Jemi Fraser said...

I need to take a break at that point. My brain is usually mush. It's not a good sign when I know the wip word for word. I usually read or work on something else for a few days/weeks. That helps. Good luck! :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I don't know that I have any great advice, Lydia, but I LOVE your picture! Ha ha ha! So cute! And I love the idea of "stewing" in our writing. Fun post! :-)

Kerrin said...

take a break! a week if you can, give it to someone who will be honest, who you can trust to be fair and get feedback, then look at it fresh.
good luck!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lydia..your situation is the same as mine. My current WIP is taking an enormous amount of rewriting, revising, polishing and editing.
*Sigh* Will I ever be done with it?

Bec said...

Hey Lydia. I've awarded you with the versatile blogger award. You can come pick it up of my blog. Have a great day :)

DEZMOND said...

well since I believe writing should come naturally, and that novels should just flow right out of you like a river, I don't really believe in writing by force. Just take a break, the ideas and inspiration will come to you in the right moment.

Heather said...

I step away and allow the WIP to stew for at least a week, longer is better if you can stand it, but not too long. Then when I come back to it I'm refreshed and full of ideas!

Ed Pilolla said...

i dig what your friend jadee morgan said, we've got to find what works for us. as an old newspaper reporter, i find serious benefit to rubbing up against deadline. or if i have the time, i like to do what stephen king does and drop a manuscript in a drawer for a month and a half.

in these times, our commitment and devotion to our art gets tested. sometimes i only push on after i give up energetically. the universe -- or my higher self -- just won't let me go. or something like that:)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Take a step back - in perspective. Take a yellow legal pad page and sketch a graph of your whole story : its arc, its three acts, its beginning contrasted to its ending {like a before and after picture}, and what inspired you to do the novel in the first place.

Take down a volume by your favorite author, thumb to the middle, and see how your author managed the middle muddles.

I have a post with pep talk by none other than Neil Gaiman for those of us hung in the middle :

The link is as a courtesy only :
http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2010/06/we-guess-with-our-fears.html

Have a great weekend, Roland

Peggy Shumway said...

I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes you just have to step away until your head clears.

I've left you an award on my blog.

Mohamed Mughal said...

Take a break from it; go for a long, meditative hike; wrestle with the dog; watch the stupidest comedy you can find and laugh you a** off.

A week later - go back to your WIP...and if your experiences are anything like mine with my WIPs, you'll wonder, "Who wrote this s**t!"

Lisa_Gibson said...

Great post. Can be important to let a ms marinate for awhile. I have an award for you on my blog.

storyqueen said...

I take a break, but not too long. Then I set aside a big chunk of time I can really dive in and deal with it.

Re-vision=Re-seeing. In order to see your work in a new light, you have to have a little time away.

Good luck!

Shelley

MT said...

Le WIP. That's what I'm going to call it now. It sounds tremendously official and sophisticated at the same time. ;)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I Like WIP too.

I'm in the middle a WIP right now; two, really -- one new one, and a revision. The one I'm revising keeps getting bumped for new projects that are shorter and easier to finish. But then, when I return to it, for some reason, the revision goes more easily for awhile. It's a long work, so I think I really need the time away from it between certain sections. But it's helpful to see all your comments and how other people handle things. Good post, and good blog.

Theresa Milstein said...

I've heard it's good to take a three-week break between the rough draft and revisions. I've also heard it's good to put it away if you're in the thick of it. It sounds like that's where you are.

Good luck!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I think taking a break is a good thing, especially if you read in your genre or pov during the break.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I agree with Sharon, taking breaks is a very good thing. I love coming back to my manuscript with a fresh perspective. But with that said, there's definitely a time to dig into revisions and not quit. That time comes after the break. :)

I'm so glad I found your blog, Lydia. Very cool place you have here.

Amy

prashant said...

I give it a couple of days before I lay eyes on the wip again.
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Nicole Murray said...

I always go off to do something else. Sometimes another writing project or art project. Sometimes I will emerse myself in research material that has to do with my story. I do not write--just read, list to or view the material at hand.

I hope your broth is thick, the aroma inviting and not a uncooked potato to be had.

 
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