What to do when motivation is low? Revise anyway.

Progress on my manuscript revision is slow. I’ve got a billion things I can do instead of revise. And even when I make time to revise, distractions abound. Even staring blanking, retreating into my mind is a welcome distraction.

Last year I came up with a strategy to write that helped me finish the draft of my manuscript. But now I’m left without a tangible way to propel myself onward through the sloughs of this project. Progress feels slow because of the sheer number of words.

Even when I revise, I’m not sure whether I’m actually making positive changes. Am I a good enough writer? I’ve been exposed to a lot of talking down about genre/popular fiction, which includes speculative fiction. I’m constantly worried that I’m falling into some trap, that I’m writing the exact type of fiction that these critics complain of, that my writing sucks.

I didn’t realize how deep this had affected my ability to write until I was working on a short speculative story earlier this year and I was embarrassed by the story because it didn’t follow certain conventions of literary writing. Meanwhile, I was writing several literary stories and felt more confident in my revising capabilities. Perhaps it’s just a difference in practice—I’ve done a lot of literary revising compared to the amount of speculative revising I’ve done.

Drafting is easier because I know anything can be changed in editing. But now I’m in the stage where I’m fixing things, so there’s more pressure.

I look at the writers I admire, see their writing, know their stories are perfectly functional and enjoyable. Writing that doesn’t adhere to certain literary conventions. Something to remind me that my writing is okay.

This week (which is last week as of when this post is going up) I came up with a theory about how to edit. Writing one thousand words in an hour helped me draft my manuscript, so I’m thinking that editing a certain number of pages (likely three to four) in an hour would be a helpful efficiency marker.

Now I should go edit.

No excuses.

Revise anyway.

~Alex

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