Monday, 15 October 2012

Eating Elephants

 I was ready to start my revision. I'd had some great feedback from an editor, her comments had sparked off   a myriad of new ideas and I was excited about implementing them. I could see how this new angle would add depth and nuance to my work. It was going to be fabulous. I could see it all in my mind.
 Then I sat down at my computer and...choked.
 I couldn't do it.
 Should I start again, just rewrite the whole thing entirely?
 Should I try and revise what I'd already written?
 Should I hit myself over the head repeatedly with a brick?
 I spent a couple of days in a pit of despair. I couldn't do it. I didn't know how. Perhaps I should just give up. If I couldn't revise then I obviously had no chance of becoming a writer.
But then I had an idea.
 I would look at the first chapter and annotate the text with the changes it needed.
 Then I would look at the second chapter and so on.
 It worked.
 The notes helped me clarify my ideas and showed me where to start and the whole experience reminded me of that old joke -

It's old but it's true. Looking at a huge project can make us feel overwhelmed. So remember, in writing or revising, eat your elephant one bite at a time and you'll be surprised how easy it can be to eat the whole thing!


  1. I'm glad you found a way through the maze. Good luck with the rest of your editing - one step at a time :)

    1. Thanks Suzanne. Will endeavor to keep going and hope the way stays clear!

  2. This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes, by E.L. Doctorow:

    "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."

    1. Hi Nick, that's a great quote! Will try and remember it next time I'm stuck.

  3. I'm there too :S Thanks for this, it did remind me to take it a bit at a time.

    1. Hi Stephanie, glad to be of help! Good luck with your project!

  4. Yes, this is a good reminder for me too :)

    As you know I am taking the route of just writing my book again from start to finish since there were so many changes to be made. I would NOT recommend this method though, unless it is absolutely necessary!! Far too time consuming.

  5. Hi miriam, the problem is we have to make the mistakes first before we can learn from them!
    I'm sure it will be worth all the work when it's done!