Revision Madness


In working recently with a gifted screenplay writer on the revision of one of his scripts, I realized that there’s a common psychological path when it comes to revision (whether it’s a novel, memoir or screenplay) that shows up with all my clients.

First let me make it clear that as a writing coach, I don’t do the revision for the client. I partner with them creatively, brainstorm and discuss the process so they can gain the knowledge themselves to use, not just on this script, but on all future writing, as well. 

The writing client was trying to figure out why he was having such a difficult time enjoying the process of revision. I understood. In working with numerous writers, going intimately through the process, there’s a point where it’s just plain difficult to have to look at a scene or a chapter or a paragraph because you’ve looked at it so many times already. Your mind warps. Your vision blurs. You’re TIRED.

But, I realized it was more than that. Often we write semi-autobiographically, even when we’re not trying to. Telling the story the first time can be difficult enough. I’m writing in my novel FIRE right now about a character named Meghan who is an artist and an addict. She’s completely fictional, but it’s bringing up a lot of past trauma and even the first time of writing it is painful. Then with the revision process, to polish the writing and to make it professional, you have to revisit these painful scenes, often several times. It’s emotionally difficult. 

Every client I’ve worked with has ultimately gotten fed up with the process, sick of it, ready for it all to be done already!

On top of having to revisit difficult stories, on revision writers have to make sure they’re turning the raw material into a professional piece of writing. So we have to have the necessary distance and professionalism. Sometimes we’re too close to the material. Sometimes revision can take much longer than you’ve imagined.

And sometimes, you need someone outside your head, outside your process, who already has the distance, like a coach or writing friend or group, to help you through. 

I’m a writing coach and offer a free initial consultation, 

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