Where Do You Do It?

December 20, 2010 | Writing

Ah, I got your attention – didn’t I? So let’s get down to the real nitty gritty , I’m talking about where do you do it – your manuscript revisions? You know that novel you’ve been working on? Slaving over? Just dying to get to ‘The End’ again.

This question came to me as I finish revising my completed manuscript. First, let me say here that I will never write a full manuscript again without some type of ongoing revision schedule in place. I looked at 350 pages and cried. What the Frack had I done? So once I dried my tears, I sought a better more sane way to do this with future work. Which then brought up the question: Where do I do it (revisions)? I’d read published authors advise not to revise in the same place you write. Reason being you’ll get a clearer, fresher perspective on your work if done in another room or another place. Sounded reasonable so I decided to ask authors available on online groups I belong to where they did it (revisions).

The answers I received can be applied to whether you are a plotter or organic writer (which is a much better term than panster). And the consensus was: wherever you feel comfortable and just do it (revisions).

Two authors do it (revisions) in bed. Alone. They print out the entire novel or pages, and work page by page and then input changes on their computer. One stated ‘Is there a better place to write romance than in bed?’ She said she felt special surrounded by books, dictionaries, thesaurus and paper. She also said she locked the door. I considered their method and the Goldilocks in me said I’d be asleep in ten minutes. I don’t find my work, even in its crappiest form dull, but a bed is way too comfortable. I admire their discipline. It also means you don’t have to make your bed.

Another author said she did it (revisions) whenever and wherever she could. Given she worked and had two small children, she’d learn to do mini-edits at doctor’s offices, sport practices and could shut out the distractions. Me I’m too damn nosy you never know when someone might provide a potential juicy plot. However once a woman behind me in the grocery line was sobbing on her cell phone to a man about how he done her wrong. I was extremely uncomfortable and got the heck out of there quickly as possible. When my son had tennis lessons with his pro, I was too busy making sure every bit of my money was rung out him on the court to concentrate on revisions. Another published author did it (revisions) on the morning train to work. It worked for Scott Turow and it works for her, she’s multi-published.

So it came down to this, where you do it (revisions) is a matter of choice and where you can achieve the most success. I’ve held several revision sessions on the computer but everyone agreed it was best to print the pages. So now do I and use a purple, green, or purple pen to mark it up, then input changes on my computer. As for where I do it (revisions) it boiled down to my writing room. I confiscated the living room six years ago and remodeled it into my domain. It is a ‘relatively unchanging environment’ as one writer said why she preferred her writing space. It’s my space and my children have felt my wrath if they enter without knocking or use my computer to check Facebook.

The reason I put revisions in parenthesis is to keep your mind on what I mean by ‘where do you do it’. You know how a romance writer’s mind works.

As 2011 draws to a close and the holiday season is on us, keep doing it (revisions) so when 2012 blasts in you’ll do it consistently and in the right place. Keep writing.

Oh I was going to write about Weight Watchers and writing, but since they changed the program that subject will be tackled in 2011. Still good stuff.

Happy Yule,

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  1. Great post, Yasmine! I do “it” on the kitchen table. Couldn’t resist.:)

    I’d never do a complete manuscript at one time. It’s easier for me to work in sections. I print out the pages, then read them aloud and make notes in the margins. After a scene is revised, I hustle back to my computer and type in the changes.


  2. Hi Yasmine,

    I do it where I did so I can keep doing it. : )

    I have a tendency to slash and burn when I revise so I devised a technique to stay my hand. I revise where I write, but in stages. I reread what I’ve written the day before, highlight the areas that don’t feel right but leave them alone. Then I go on to the new day’s work. At the end of the week I search through the manuscript for the highlighted passages, words, etc. If I can’t figure out why I highlighted them, I take the highlighting away.

    thanks for a chance to share.



  3. Hi!
    I do it in the front seat of my car…seriously. *grin*

    I print out the draft, then take that with me down to a park near Lake Ontario and start reading and jotting in corrections, etc…it is so quiet down there in the car. I’ve been known to edit during snowstorms, freezing weather and heatwaves. (Even adopted a lost cat there and brought her home – she’s my sweetie).

    I’m like Sloane above, I do it in sections then input the corrections before continuing. So I am maybe in the car for two-three hour bursts, sometimes longer. (Yes, always have a full tank of gas) *grin*

    I’m toying with the idea of getting a laptop and doing the revisions in the car with the laptop and a car adapter…but haven’t really decided yet. Maybe next year.
    Great post, Yasmine!


  4. Sloane: The kitchen table!! And I thought that was your sacred cooking space. Must be a lot of inspiration there. And I never do the complete again.

    Micah: Printing out is the way to go. Maybe Santa will bring a carton of paper, some flair pens and highlighters. I’d be orgasmic. Damn shame what gets my motor running these days. Blank white paper.

    Jen: The car?! Hmm reminds me of my late teen years. Never mind. I think sitting by a pond or lake in spring or summer would be perfect – as long as people don’t get to curious what you’re doing, alone, in a car, talking to yourself, taking frequent bathroom breaks – for hours.


  5. Hi Yasmine,

    Great subject, I do mine at the office either at home or at work. I actually do a few revisions as I go and then at the end I print out the entire ms and start reading. A lot of times I’ve changed something toward the end that makes a difference in the beginning.


  6. I do it where ever and when ever I can. I write like that as well. My motto is: Writer. Have lap top. Will travel.

    I do tend to revise as I go along, but then do a major read-through when my manuscript is complete. If I know I’ve changed something along the way, I try to go back right away so I don’t forget to make things consistent all the way through.


  7. Great reading your post, Yasmine!! It’s always fun to see how others do it (revisions) *g*. Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas!! Looking forward to seeing you again in the New Year…


  8. I revise as I go along. Every night, I print out the pages from the last few days of and go over them, revising and adding material. Then I make the changes in the manuscript on the computer and continue writing. Therefore, every page is looked at about 3 times. By the end of the book, I’m basically done. I’ll read through it several times and tweek it. Then I’ll send it off to a critique partner.

    I write mostly on my laptop at my desk or sitting in bed. I just got the little Macbook air. I can slip it in my purse. Love it.


  9. Hmm Debra a Macbook Air sounds great. I’ve learned my lesson about how to do it. No more big chunks and I see a carton of paper under the tree. I love seeing The End, Poor Santa his back is going to ache. But it’s for the benefit of my writing so I’ll gift him next year.


  10. Love this post. I do it on my lunch hour and then in my office at home. If any of my kids have a doctors appointment I do it in the waiting room. But I also revise as I write. It takes me longer to get the story finished, but at least I don’t have as much to do at the end.


  11. I didn’t know there should be a set place. I do it everywhere: couch, desk, bed. I’m a promiscuous editor.

    I edit in two processes. I’ll go back and read if I haven’t written for awhile, do a little editing, in the hope of not leaving any dangling plot points. Then again from start to end. i do, however, never hope to do it the way I did it with Spurred On because that took forever.

    And glad you’re writing, Yasmine. Huz and zah.


  12. Well, (a-hem) I do in so many places, it’s hard to list all of them. Ever since I got a kindle, I do it on my kindle when I can’t carry around all those pages or my computer. Otherwise, I do it every time I have free time. With five kids, I learned to do it whenever I could find a niche of time. I used to print the entire book and edit that way, but after misplacing pages (or they were used as drawing paper by young children) I learned to use my laptop so I could bring it with me.

    So, how do I do it?

    I do a full read through first – the entire novel for continuity and make notations as I go. That’s when I sit and go “WOW! Did I write that?” Then I get into it – really dig deep – I read each chapter looking at GMC – so important to make sure when I’m in that person’s head that their goal and motivation are clearly developed. Then, of course, if there’s no conflict, no one will read it.

    So, in answer to your question – where do I do it? Everywhere!

    Love your blog!!!


  13. I do “it” wherever I happen to be. And, when I’m in the middle of the revision rush which I am right now, EVERYWHERE I happen to be. So help me, I have taken pages with me into the steamroom to work on them.


  14. I agree in principle about the advantage of printing out the work for revision, and I do find it easier to revise by hand than on the screen. BUT — I haven’t been doing that with anything longer than a short story, because the expense of all that ink makes me cringe. Paper is cheap. Ink cartridges are costly.

    I’ve often thought of the loss to future literary researchers when many authors don’t print out their work at all, so earlier phases are simply lost in the ether, and there is no such thing as an “original manuscript.”


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