Slowing Down

I am a procrastinator for many things: housework, filling out the kids’ numerous school forms, scheduling appointments for myself, etc. With writing, too, I often put off a project until I must work on it, or else I am quite fine letting it languish on my hard drive. The novel I’m currently revising—that one that I began in 2005—is an excellent example of letting something go until I have to work on it. And, when I begin to focus on it, my laziness vanishes, and I work as though that novel should have been finished yesterday! I want it done now.

This week, however, I’m thinking about the beauty of slowing down and working consistently. For my Deep Editing course, I have to revise 5 – 10 pages each week. Last week, in my excitement to finally edit my novel, I worked on 11 pages. I felt energized and ambitious. For this week’s assignment, Chapter 3 is 13 pages in length. If I finished 11 pages last week, why not revise more? On Tuesday, as I considered these pages, I realized that trying to do more wasn’t going to work for this revision process. Yes, I could edit the entire chapter, but I would produce a cleaner revision by focusing on fewer pages. I could consider each verb, each comma. I could look at a paragraph and make sure that each sentence was essential.

It was difficult not to look at the second half of the chapter once I committed to editing only the first half. Yet, as I review the pages this morning before submitting them, I see that revising at a slower pace has produced better results. If I consistently work on revising this novel during the semester and beyond, I will have a clean draft in several months. It is exciting to consider.

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