My Writing and Revising Process
Writing, I feel, is a very private and intimate action. You're sharing a small part of yourself--your beliefs in these stories, and so every time you put your work out there, you're leaving yourself a little vulnerable.
This is why I think that the most challenging part about writing and revising isn't actually writing or revising. It is being brave enough to be vulnerable--to allow others to read your work and provide honest feedback. It's SO scary!
For me, drafting this book didn't take too long. I was done after two or three days. After all, the book has fewer than 400 words. It was the revision process that took me the longest. With a picture book that has such few words, every single word mattered. There wasn't room for anything extra. Sentence structure, rhythm, and flow of the book mattered a lot, too, so a lot of time was spent re-reading the book aloud to hear what sounded right and what didn't.
I have made over 20 revisions to this book since writing it. After the first two drafts and revising the story on my own, I had to swallow my anxieties and share my writing with my husband. He is my harshest, most honest critic, but also my biggest fan. And, to be completely honest, I think his opinion matters the most. Don't tell him that, though :)
After he provided feedback, I asked some friends to read it. Then, I really, really, really had to be brave. I am a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and part of several critique groups. I uploaded my manuscript to the SCBWI forum and asked for critique. I shared my manuscript with critique partners.
Was it terrifying? Absolutely. I thought I was going to puke after hitting that submit button on that forum.
But everyone was really nice, honest, and most importantly, helpful. I received such useful feedback and suggestions. I went back and revised my writing some more until I was 99.8% happy with it. I'm not sure anyone is ever 100% happy with their writing. Even today, when I reread my manuscript, I think, "Would this word sound better than this word?"
It took me a little longer after finishing the final draft to take the leap and decide to publish this book, but that's a story for another day.
For those of you who are thinking of writing a book, my biggest suggestion to you is to write about something you're not going to get sick of because you're going to be rereading it A LOT. Also, don't be afraid to find critique partners and ask for feedback. People in the writing community are actually really kind, and we're all rooting for each others' success.