Season 2, Episode 2: Take Off Your Writer's Hat

Wait.

What?

Yeah, you heard us. Take off your writer’s hat.

In this episode:

We’re here on the cusp of revision on MomWrites – Abby’s finished with her novel, finished driving down the east coast with two kids, two dogs, and a hedgehog, and Melanie’s a mere two chapters away from being FINISHED (so, practically there. Almost). Join us as Jennie, Abby and Mel talk about what’s next for their books.

So you have a thing that exists in the universe that didn’t exist before—writing is total creation! There was nothing, and now there’s something, and you made it, and that’s why we stop and celebrate because that’s amazing.
— Jennie Nash

Jennie says there are two tendencies writers have when they finish their first drafts:

1) “Where's the publisher? I'm ready for the publisher!” The reality is, editing and revision is just the next step towards that goal, and what’s really going to turn your book from good into great. Nothing is ready to publish on the first draft—nothing!

2) The other tendency people have at this point is to circle back to the beginning and do precisely the same thing that they did to write the book. But revision is not the same process as drafting, and it needs to be treated as its own thing because it IS. Rushing through it is a mistake—take your time!

Revision is when we take our writer’s hats off. This is not the process of creation. It often helps to revise in a different physical space than where you did most of your book writing. For instance, if you wrote your whole book at the kitchen table, maybe it’s time to move to a desk in the bedroom, or the couch, or a library or coffee shop or friend’s house. Just being in a different physical space helps you remember that you’re doing something different than creating.

Using a coach during this process can be especially helpful because it brings an entirely new perspective to your work – a reader’s perspective, but one that’s been trained with an eye for revision. A good editor brings four perspectives to the table – 1) you, the writer, 2) the reader, 3) the character and their history, and 4) you, the person who’s lived your life. All of these perspectives together is like going from looking at a picture Michelangelo’s David in a book to standing underneath it, walking around, viewing the art in 3D.

Is revision scary? Yes, absolutely! What if you take a look at what you’ve written and you don’t like it? What if you don’t like a little bit, or what if you don’t like a WHOLE LOT of it? Honesty about what you’ve written and where it will sit on a shelf, and why a reader might pick it up is one of the most critical aspects of revision. Hard decisions will be made, hard truths will be faced, and you’ll have to own up to some really stinky pieces of writing in your book—and some really great ones, too.

This brings us to the final word of advice Jennie has for us – be brave. Know that you have it in you to make the hard decisions, to make the hard choices, to see your book for what it really is and for what it can be, trust the process, and then go do the thing that makes it great.

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