The Silver Lining | March Madness Day 12 check-in


Hello lovely WIPsters! We’re not quite halfway there yet but almost. Last week I discussed using a revision schedule to break up your larger goal into bite-sized milestones. Did anyone try this method? If so, how did it go for you?

One thing I wanted to discuss today is setbacks. A setback can be of the time suck kind: your kid getting sick and needing attention when you normally write, unforeseen overtime at work, changed plans. Or it can be of the writing kind: realizing several chapters you just revised aren’t working and you need to rework them all over again with a new plot line, getting stuck on some aspect of your book like where to place a certain scene and trying it in several places results in a domino effect of changes, writing yourself into a corner, etc.

Almost all of the above happened to me last week. So I’m literally working on the same chapters I was last week but now they are newer chapters since I had to change the entire plot/setting/etc that happened in them. In my case, I was clinging too hard to the original straight contemporary of this version because I liked a particular sequence of events. But last Friday I had a lightbulb moment where I realized keeping that sequence made no sense in context anymore. It had to go but since I’d weaved the new plot around it, I had to unweave it all and put it back together again. In a different order this time.

So my schedule is blown but that’s okay. Because progress is progress!

But I’m curious. How do you handle a major change to your draft in the middle of drafting? Do you go back and fix it right away? Or do you make a note of what needs to change and tackle it in the next pass? Or another method entirely?

Sound off in the comments! And don’t forget to check in about your progress.

Head to Denise’s blog tomorrow for Thursday’s check-in!


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38 Responses

  1. A minor setback just happened to me yesterday. I was revising for a long time, but somehow only moved ahead by one page. It was frustrating, because I want to GET IT DONE, but I keep reminding myself that I want to get it done right, not just fast. And then I repeat it a million times so it’ll finally stick πŸ˜†

  2. I didn’t have a huge setback, but I realized that my plot outline was missing some rather important details. The unweaving didn’t take too long, thankfully, and I was able to fix it (I think) without too much time being lost. I guess I’ll have to wait and see when I read through the entirety of the draft at a later time. Which brings me to how I handle my setbacks. If it’s an easy fix, I’ll do it right then, like I did yesterday. If it’s something that’s going to require my brain in something other than draft-writing mode, I usually just make a note of it and tackle it when I can switch gears, which is usually after I’ve finished the draft.
    I just really love watching my little one-liner plot outline unfold to a full blown story, even though it’s not perfect. And I love watching something I was leery about become one of my favorite parts of the story. Yesterday I wrote a chapter that I was concerned wouldn’t come across the way I needed it to. After I finished it, I went back and read it, and (sorry if this makes me sound conceited) it made me tear up. I had chills. I walked away feeling confident about the way I’d done it. whew!

  3. I’m happy to say that I’ve met my first goal and have finished 3rd draft revisions on my novel! I’ll take a couple of days to do a consistency read through and then on to goal two.

  4. I handle setbacks totally in stride…I’m completely calm and never ever yell at anyone in my house when I don’t get any writing time.

    There’s my (untrue) positive affirmation for the day. LOL. I definitely get frustrated by setbacks, but I do think I’m calmer than I used to be. I take some deep breaths, realize that this is just how life is, and try to funnel my energy into getting my life back into some semblance of normalcy.

    As for major changes in the middle of the revision…it depends on how jazzed about the changes I am and how much I can visualize the book in the new way. If it’s all very clear, I may start right away. If not, I usually make notes and continue with what I’m doing to let it fully “bake” in my brain. (This is not the same thing as saying I’m baked when I write, just fyi).

    Progress has been good since the weekend. Hoping it will continue and I’m able to find lots of time to work as I’m getting some helpful feedback…

  5. Great post, Shana! If a major change occurs while I’m drafting, I’ll fix it right away. And I shouldn’t say ‘if’ because it’s almost a guarantee that one or two big plot twists will fall into place while I’m drafting. If I don’t change it, I run the risk of heading in the wrong direction from that point forward. I’m a big believer in outlines, but I don’t outline to the point that I won’t let my daily writing take me to new places. That’s the fun of writing – to see what your mind creates on the page each day!

    • Sounds like you’ve got a great handle on how to tackle set backs. I too love outlines but am not afraid to veer from them. I generally re-outline immediately when that happens though.

  6. Ah yes…setbacks! I’ve had plenty lately. The other day my stomach turned over as I thought, “I’m doing it wrong!” PANIC. But I’m sitting tight and letting the story come out as it will. However, often when I have an epiphany that needs attention, I stop and insert a note or a quick fix in the where it belongs and then really hit it in revision. I try to keep notes, but I get too antsy and want to “fix it” before it gets away from me.

    As for setbacks in general, this week I’ve been battling a continued issue in my tummy (might be gallbladderβ€”yikes!) and spent yesterday writing with 6th graders, which was awesome! I’m worn out, but ready to pick up the pace with the wip. Wish me luck!

  7. While drafting, I am constantly experiencing “aha” or “oh s**t” moments about my plot and characters. If the change is major (usually related to logic issues and sometimes cliches – I’m good at immediately recognizing sentence level cliches, plot level ones, not so much) and affects the entire book, I go back. I’ve tried the “ignore and fix later” route…it just turns everything into a giant mess, in my experience.

    Minor changes, I note and address during revisions.


    • The “oh sh*t” revelations are scary, aren’t they? That’s the one I just dealt with. I am impressed you can focus on micro issues like sentence cliches and macro issues at the same time. I usually can only focus on one or the other, so I generally ignore wonky sentences until a line edit pass.

  8. πŸ˜• Life got in the way yesterday. Like big time. So I didn’t get anything done.
    Hopefully today is a better day.

    PS: thanks for that excel sheet. I’m going to apply it to my next round of revision.

  9. I used your schedule! Loved it!

    Talk about setbacks. These past two-three weeks have included moving mother-in-law into independent living community, doing TONS of errands for her, son having strep throat, husband being sick, just to name a few. I’ve been scheduling in my writing time and that seems to help. Also I’m saying ‘no’ more and refusing to give up my writing or ‘me’ time. **It seems older generation individuals(not naming names here) think this is selfish but I disagree.

    If I’m stuck in my revision? I usually put it aside and take a few days off from it. Or I write through it.

    Thanks again for hosting!

    • So glad you loved the schedule!

      Wow you’ve got lots going on but I think you’re doing the write thing by holding onto your writing time. I do the same, even with a 20-month-old at home. My husband watches her while I sneak off to write.

  10. Setbacks? They’re just opportunities in disguise, aren’t they? Haha! If a light-bulb moment illuminates a minor problem, I might fix it on the spot if doing so won’t interrupt my progress, but I’ll often just make a note and continue. It it’s a major problem, I’ll stop and work on it right then. Otherwise whatever comes after will need too much revising, and that’s wasted time and effort.

    My writing stints were broken up yesterday, but I made pretty decent headway (for me, anyway) and I’m content, even though I’m only into Chapter 3. I hope everyone else is making steady progress, too.

  11. Way to go-keeping positive and moving forward, Shana! Drafting setbacks? I usually push through and then set the MS aside until I figure out how to fix the mess I made.

    My out-of-town company left today which means more quiet writing time, but now I’ve been hit with a horrid head cold. Ugh. Must keep going, though. ^+^

  12. For me, I think it depends how far into a draft I am when the “setback” hits. If I’m not too far, say, within the first act, then I would probably start over completely. But if I’m into the middle chunk, and there’s likely much I’ll keep, I’d just turn the corner and carry on — keep writing as if all the preceding stuff was already re-worked…then attempt to fix it all in the next draft!

  13. I had a small setback today. After reaching my first March Madness goal yesterday, I sat down to write today and…nothing. Think I needed a day off. Hoping tomorrow I get back on track.

  14. If I’m more than a quarter of a way through a draft, I usually just carry on in the direction I’m going and make a note to revise things in the next draft. Often I get ideas that are kind of bonkers in the early stages of drafting, and I’ve really had to learn (the hard way) that I can’t just change course completely every time a shiny new twist occurs to me. I’ve been pretty lucky on this WIP, though — most of my in-writing realizations have not been ones that drastically changed the course of the story (at least not retroactively). At the beginning of the month I did realize i needed to shuffle around some of the scenes, but luckily they weren’t scenes I’d written yet.

    I’m getting close to the end now, so we’ll see how well the “take notes now, ask questions later” approach really works for me when I start on draft two!

  15. I reached a point this weekend when I realized there were a few plot issues needing to be addressed. Since this is my second pass through the ms, I decided to stop revisions and go back through and fix them. I was 3/4 of the way through the ms, but now I’m back in the first 1/2 of the story, tweaking, again. I thought about just making notes in my novel notebook, but a little voice in my head said go back and fix them now. So, I am. Not sure if that’s considered a set back, but it sure feels like one! I know I’ll feel better once the kinks are worked out. Then it’s full speed ahead.

  16. Well, after realizing the turn in my plans towards another project, I’ve been plotting. Thinking hard about that. It doesn’t feel like a setback, though, because I’m refusing to let it. I’m still getting stuff done, and that’s the whole point of this month. πŸ˜€

  17. I used to run circles around the counterproductive method of editing while I wrote. Now, I just put notes, sometimes right in the middle of the draft in bold, all caps, to indicate a change (major/minor, whatever’s needed) and keep going.

    There’s a world of difference in the amount of output I get when I just let it all out and ‘think’ about it later. Isn’t the brain dump what first drafts are all about? πŸ˜€

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