For the past few months, I’ve been working on (what is hopefully) the final revision of my WIP… But lately, I’ve started to worry that I might have a problem.
The problem: I can’t seem to stop.
Revising, that is. I felt like I was nearing the end, with line-editing, detail-checking, critique partners, beta readers, and all that, when I started having new ideas.
BIG new ideas.
I think three of my characters got major shifts in motivation. I might entirely change the way the villain interacts with the rest of the cast. And…I’m dropping one of my characters in a different setting entirely.
At this point, it seemed right to sit back and wonder whether all this was a good idea. I have heard of authors who actually need to stop themselves after a certain point in revising. If you keep on finding new things to change, you’ll never be done.
I can tell I have the potential to become this kind of writer—one who needs to force herself to end a project, to shut down all those little ideas that keep jumping inside the suggestion box. In fact, I sincerely believe I could keep tinkering with this story—not this book, maybe, but this story—for the rest of my life. I could keep on changing the plot and deepening the themes and re-defining the characters for a very long time.
But I suppose I would eventually end up in a cycle of change rather than on a path of improvement. It seems the distinction between meaningful revision and tinkering into oblivion hinges on whether your revisions are actually improving your work.
I don’t think I’m there yet. The changes I plan to make will improve my work, not just change it. I know, however, that there will come a day when I will have to call my novel finished. Someday, I’ll have to acknowledge that it’s time to move on, even if I can think of a million more variations on the story I’d like to try.