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  • Writer's pictureToni

Author Mindset: Is this book even worth revising?

So you finished your novel (maybe during the most recent NaNoWriMo?), yay!

But now that you’ve finished it, you’re taking a look back at that first draft and thinking, “Wow, this thing is a mess.” And that’s got you wondering if you should even bother putting in all the time and effort it would take to revise it.

Let’s talk about that.

Should you trust your doubts or not?

Image text: Your draft is probably less of a mess than you think it is. | Edits by Toni

As authors, we tend to be pretty biased about our own work, sometimes positively but more often negatively. We usually think our work is worse than it actually is. And this is especially true when the draft is fresh off the keyboard, all green and new. (Why resting your draft pre-revision is important.)

In short: Your draft is probably less of a mess than you think it is. You can’t trust your doubts completely.

“But I’ve got this shiny new idea…”

When you’re not happy with your first draft, the exciting new ideas you have can be tempting. Diving into a new story is fun and full of potential! But it’s a lot harder to see the potential under all the imperfections of the draft you just wrote. It’s less perfect in your mind now that it’s real, unlike the new idea, which is perfect because it hasn’t been written yet.

Maybe (you even think, secretly), the next first draft won’t be as much of a mess as the one you just finished writing, and that will be the one you revise.

And it’s totally okay to move on to something new. In fact, that’s one of the great things you can do during your draft’s resting period! Shiny new ideas in and of themselves are not bad things at all.

However, if you find yourself writing first draft after first draft after first draft over and over, never taking any story through the revision process ever, then that’s when you may have a problem. And not a messy-draft problem, but an author-mindset problem.

Just like finishing the first draft is a skill, revision is also a skill.

And you can’t improve your revision skills unless you revise!

Real talk: If you never revise, you’ll continue going on never being able to revise.

So you’ve gotta break the revision ice at some point. Why not with the draft you just wrote? Yeah, it may be a bit messier than you’d hoped, but that’s good practice!

Image text: Revision takes practice, just like writing does. And the only way to get better at it is to revise your draft. | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni

Think of it this way: You don’t have to revise this particular draft all the way to publication-ready. You don’t even have to publish at all. It can be your practice book. That way in the future, when you write a first draft that you want to take all the way to publication, you’ll already have the skills you need to do it. Revisions will go smoother because you’ll have experience. And because the revision process won’t be new, you’ll spend less time overwhelmed and panicking and lost. A win all around!

“But I’m still worried this book isn’t worth revising…”

So we’ve covered that you might not be the best judge of your book’s quality right now, and we also covered that some book at some point needs to be the revision icebreaker, so that you can build your revision skillset.

If those things haven’t convinced you, then think back with me for a moment. Think back to when this book was an exciting new idea. Take a moment to remember exactly how you felt when this book idea came together, the process of gathering ideas, brainstorming, and outlining (if you do that). Think about the way you imagined this book would turn out, your hopes and dreams for it. Got all that in your brain?

Now ask yourself this: Are you okay giving that up? Potentially forever?

Because if you never revise this book, it will go into a drawer, and there’s a chance it may never come back out.

Is that okay with you?

It’s okay if it is. Perhaps this particular book isn’t the one to revise if you’re perfectly happy to leave it in the drawer forever.

But if even one small part of you still loves that story, dreams of what it could be, or wants to share it with people besides yourself—if even one small part of you feels regret at putting this story away forever—then it’s worth at least giving revision a shot. You don’t have to see it through to the end if you don’t want, but you owe it to yourself and to that story to try.

Not sure where to start?

I hear you—it’s overwhelming to look at a mess of a draft and try to figure out what to even do next. Analysis paralysis, for real. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to get some help!

First up, check out these three blog posts:

If you still need more guidance, I’ve got a free download for you:

And if you still feel stuck, overwhelmed, and paralyzed, I’m available for one-to-one help! My Editorial Evaluation service looks at every aspect of your book, from characters to grammar, to identify strengths and weaknesses. Then I use that to create a custom action plan for you, so your revision path is laid out ahead of you. If that sounds exactly like what you need, you can book your Editorial Evaluation here.


So tl;dr, yes, your book is worth revising, even if for no other reason than to improve your revision skills. You’ve got this!

(And if you feel like you very much don’t got this, I’m here to help! Book an Editorial Evaluation.)


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