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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Great Revision Race

by Marcy Collier

Finishing the rewrite of a novel is like running a long race, desperately trying to get to the finish without giving up. I get on a roll working on my novel, writing every day, then life gets beyond busy, and I slack off because I don’t have an official deadline.      
A few months ago, my husband began training for the 10K City of Pittsburgh Great Race (http://www.rungreatrace.com/). He started slowly, only running a mile at a time, then two, now he’s built up his endurance to six miles, just shy of the 10K. He gets up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to train before work. Using him as a motivator has not worked for me. I try to wake up with him that early to write, but most mornings, I fall back asleep until either one of my sons wakes me up or my alarm sounds for work. By then, the morning is shot. Between making breakfast and packing lunches and answering work phone calls and emails, I have lost the early morning quiet of plowing through revisions, sipping coffee and listening to the song of birds chatter outside my porch window.  
Unlike my husband, who has a race date and a set goal, I didn’t have that same push with my writing. I didn’t have an actual deadline, until my now self-imposed strict deadline. Last week I received an acceptance letter to the Rutgers One-On-One conference (http://www.ruccl.org/) held in New Jersey each October.

Many of my fellow Route 19ers have been mentees and mentors (Miss Kitty) at this prestigious conference. It’s one of the best, if not the best conference for children’s writers to attend. The panel only accepts 60-70 applicants, based on their writing sample, letter and application. You are paired up with an editor, agent or children’s writer to receive one on one criticism of your work. I am super excited to have the opportunity to attend this year. But, learning from the past experiences of my fellow bloggers and writer friends, I know that I have to make this conference count. I must have my manuscript, query letter and synopsis polished and ready to submit.

So now my revision training and my self-imposed deadline begins.
My husband showed me the savy Google docs to go (https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?service=writely&passive=1209600&continue=http://docs.google.com/&followup=http://docs.google.com/&ltmpl=homepage) that he uses to track his running progress. I have set up a spreadsheet online to show my daily writing goals with a ten page minimum for each day. I can track and input my progress from home, work or from the app on my phone. Pretty cool and also super productive. So far, I have exceeded my daily goals. Here's a screenshot of my progress.

I am going to take all of the advice my fellow bloggers have given me before the conference on how to make the most out of the day. After conference race day, I’ll share my results and give you an update.

And for those of you who do not have a deadline coming up, I urge you to make one. If you have had a hard time keeping self-imposed deadlines, ask a friend to help you keep the target date and get to the finish line. Remember, your book will never get published hanging out on the hard drive of your computer. Just Do It!

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