Last week, I was feeling really discouraged about revising my book. I’ve been working on this same book for SO long now (more than five years), and I’m dying to put it behind me on and start something new. I don’t feel excited about it. In fact, I mysteriously find very important things that I must do each time I sit down to work on it—like book flights for my summer vacation, make camping reservations, order potty training charts, and run to the vet to get another IV bag for our cat. I think my discouragement stems from a number of factors: 1) Sick of this book. 2) I’m at a loss for where to begin on the revision 3) The market sucks, which makes me feel like there’s no point in revising it because it’s not going to sell anyway 4) Fatigue—taking care of two little kids is crazy exhausting and sometimes I just want a break. Things are better now, but what changed? And what can you do the next time you hit a wall?
The first thing that helped me was my goals group. Together with several other writers, I meet every two weeks for an hour to set and discuss goals. We start by checking in on how we did with our goals—whether we achieved them or not, and if not, why not. Sometimes we have a homework assignment that we discuss (like what behaviors/beliefs are preventing us from making our goals and how we can change those); other times one person discusses what’s going on for him/her and that conversation helps the whole group. We usually end by setting goals for the following two weeks. I find that if I don’t set goals (for example, I missed my goals group meeting on my birthday and never bothered to e-mail goals to the group), I don’t achieve them. The goals group is extremely effective for me. We also have buddies, a partner within the group with whom we can check in with between meetings. My goal buddy and I usually check in for ten minutes during the week we don’t meet as a group. So at my last goals meeting I talked about my slump and set a goal to get eight hours of work done between Friday and Sunday, with the hope that getting my butt back in the chair would remotivate me. And it did.
As for the publishing industry and how bad things are, I just can’t think about it. I have to get the book revised to the point that I can’t improve it anymore. Then back out into the world (ie querying agents). I’ve invested too much time and money at this point to give up on it.
The revision process isn’t any less daunting. I still don’t feel like I know exactly what I need to do. But I have a big long list of suggestions, and I’m just taking them one at a time. I’m reading through the entire manuscript and marking where my character is weak and could be stronger. Once I get through that and make those changes, I’ll move on to the next step. It’s hard making such small progress, but, like running, there is no bad writing day. Every run is a good run, no matter how short or slow. Like I wrote at the beginning of the year , baby steps are the key to getting things done.