Today’s post comes from WU friend and author Jael McHenry. Jael’s debut novel, The Kitchen Daughter, will be released by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books in the Spring of 2011 (and you can’t wait, trust me; it’s a delicious read). Jael is, in her own words, an enthusiastic amateur cook, blogging about food and writing at the Simmer blog. She’s also the Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media.
And this post is fantastic. Take it away, Jael!
Since I’m turning in the revised manuscript of The Kitchen Daughter to my editor this week, I have revision on the brain. More precisely, on both brains: the left and the right.
You’ve heard of the idea that the right brain is creative, and the left brain is more logical, right? And it seems natural that writers would be heavily right-brained. But for me, the key to unlocking my right-brain creativity is getting all my left-brain infrastructure in order.
If I don’t know where I am in the process, I get overwhelmed instead of inspired. During a first draft I can measure my progress by word count, but in the many, many revisions that come after that, I need another way to keep track. Whether revisions are big or small, practical or inventive, from others (agents, editors, critique partners) or yourself, they can be attacked with left-brain logic. Here’s how I do it:
1. For big jobs, go to hard copy. I get my manuscript printed out and spiral-bound to make it easier to work with. I might use different colors of pen to indicate different things – my editor’s notes in blue, red for the first pass through, green for the next – or just scribble with whatever I’ve got on hand. The particulars aren’t important. What I like is the ability to look at the manuscript and see what I’ve marked up. It may not tell me how far I am from being done, but it tells me I’m making progress. And with hard copy, whatever text you add or subtract, the page numbers don’t change – which is a big plus for me when I’m responding to someone else’s comments that reference page numbers.
2. In soft copy, use a unique, searchable marker. [Read more…]