Every once in a while, I pass by a place near my house with a sign that advertises car detailing. I never knew what this meant exactly until someone told me that it basically involves putting the finishing touches on the body of a car. Some detailing can be very elaborate. I’ve seen some cars that look as if they’re tattooed. Mmmm…interesting image.
In any case, car detailing has popped into my head here because I have been working for a long time — it seems like forever — on putting the finishing touches on my YA novel revision. Revision seems almost too tame to describe this process; a major overhaul sounds more accurate. In any case, one way or the other, I seem to be entering the home stretch. And it’s almost driving me crazy!
Here’s why: I am just not a detail person. Sure, I love to get down into my drafts and play with words — what’s more fun than this? But when it comes to final editing and polishing, I have to grit my teeth and simply soldier on. That’s why making sure that this new version is letter perfect and ready for prime time continues to be challenging for me. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things that may be helpful if you’ve reached this stage as well:
Take it slow: While it’s very tempting to rush through this stage, because it’s very fussy and seems unsatisfying, that’s the worst thing you can do. Rushing is what creates mistakes and poor results: exactly what you are trying to avoid. So slow down!
Take breaks: Since this detailed polishing doesn’t come naturally to me, I find that it takes extra concentration for me to stick with it, which is fatiguing. To offset this, I’ve focused on this aspect of my revision in spurts and given myself lots of breaks. These let me come back refreshed, which helps keep errors to a minimum.
Get help: Proofing, copy editing, and polishing are inherently tough for the writer of the text that’s being fine-tuned. That’s why it’s critical to have a second and third set of eyes go over your work. Some people hire professionals to handle this phase. Whatever you do, don’t trust it to your eyes alone — it’s a recipe for disaster! And write on.