The Post-Revision Antsy Blues

So I’m not really into post-revision on Pieces yet since I’m waiting for two more readers to get me feedback, but after getting feedback from my other readers, and doing major slit-my-wrist revisions on the book, I’m sitting here staring at my computer and wondering what the heck to do with myself. I’m antsy. I’m nervous. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat. My brain feels like it was a rubberband all stretched out and then somebody let go. Now I’m lying on the floor, helpless. I’d watch a movie, but I’m too antsy. I’d read a book, but I’m so tired of reading after reading through my book like five times, forward and backward and up and down. The worst thing of all is that I’m exhausted. I’ve been exhausted for a long time now because when I do revisions, I DO REVISIONS. I don’t do anything else. I don’t do laundry. I don’t cook (much). I don’t clean (much). I don’t sleep (much). I just revise until I make myself sick, which I’ve done.

Does anyone else get like this?

Also, let me clarify what revisions are. Jennifer Hubbard did a great post about what revisions are for her. She sums it up better than I can.

As Jane Lebak notes, this is about more than fixing commas. This is about deleting entire scenes, moving chapters around, writing new scenes. Bringing in new characters, or getting rid of old ones, or merging two characters who have too-similar reasons for being in the story. Changing the plot: changing what happens or when or in what order. Chopping unnecessary pages from the beginning, or the end, or even the middle. Introducing new subplots. Jane Lebak discusses the most thorough kind of revision: the rewrite that starts from a blank page. Sometimes it does come down to that.

And, yeah, I’ve done the rewrite that starts from a blank page before. More than once. Thankfully, this book does not need that extensive of revisions. I’ve restructured and rewritten and added and deleted and shuffled stuff around. Now I’m onto the line stuff, and then a final read-through for copyedits. Then it all goes to my editor and I get to do all of the edits she sends to me. Then more copyedits.

I guess all I’m saying is when people ask me how hard it is write a book, I honestly don’t even know where to start. It’s definitely a job that goes beyond the mind. It’s physical too. Revisions, for me, are the equivalent of running a marathon. I’m pretty sure I end up burning as many calories.

The post-revision antsy blues get me every time. Like my friend Becca said to me, last time this happened to her, she sat in her office chair in the middle of the room and just spun around forever. Sometimes that’s all your mind can handle! I really just don’t know what to do with myself while my brain gets back to normal. Yoga. Maybe some yoga.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

16 comments

I could really relate to your post. I'm editing "Rings of Trust" — thought I'd never get a certain chapter wrapped up. Sometimes my eyes burn from being at the computer so much. But it's in our genes to plod on. Here's hoping you get really positive feedback. Have a feeling you will.

Suggestions: Hike. Alcohol. Klonopin. Separate or all at once!I hate revision blues too. It definitely sounds like you need to get out of your own head for a while, get a break. Yoga helps me with antsiness too, but if I have something on my mind, not so much. Yoga only ever helped me with the physically-fueled antsiness, not the mentally-fueled kind. Whoa, someone who looks like John Green is reading your book in the sidebar; that has to make you feel great. Other idea: Write a fan fiction about John Green falling in love with your book and then you!I'm sorry. The phrase "slit-my-wrist revisions" is so provocative. Just keep in mind: nothing is worth you feeling that bad. Nothing. Maybe repeating that to yourself will help you shrug revisions off for a few hours so you can have a break.If I lived near you, I would give you my Klonopin. 😛

Jennifer R. Hubbard

Hiking is good, or any calming physical activity (maybe yoga, like you said.) And going out to dinner with my husband. Also, sometimes I treat myself to a little mindless TV, which I don't watch much otherwise!

Linda Cassidy Lewis

We burn calories by revising?!? YAY!!! I just got feedback from my alpha reader who is sooooo awesome. I have a couple of scenes to add and a few to revise, maybe one to delete, maybe one to move. So, not too bad. Then I need to find betas and start the wait all over.I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not working on a book. The real world is unfamiliar territory. ;-)Hope you find your footing soon. How long before you start a new book?

Christauna Asay

Why is it that I sweat more (and I mean big armpit circles…ew) when I'm revising than while doing anything else? I'm in the middle of a major revision of R.A.G.E. and I know exactly what you mean by your brain feeling all stretched out. Exhausting. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. You go girl!

When I finished my major revision I went straight to a writers' conference and pitched my novel and you know the rest. I think I'm still dealing with post-revision antsy-ness. I'm dealing with post-everything-craziness antsy-ness. I don't think there's a cure!

I definitely know what you mean! And yes, go do some yoga! Force yourself to do something else, even though you don't want to. I make myself go to the gym. Forcing my body to be active seems to help my mind get a break.

I'm all for yoga! 🙂 The antsy feeling is the worst. I've had it a lot lately, (for reasons unrelated to writing) and it makes me want to pull off my skin to get rid of those ants.

Charity Bradford

Yes! I get that way too. After my last round of revisions I went on a 5 day cruise and did absolutely nothing while other people took care of me. I wish I could do that after every intense revision session, but alas real life isn't so wonderful is it?I usually take lots of naps the week after revisions. I mope/wander around the house and start making lists for what I neglected and need to work on now. Sometimes it takes quite awhile before I'm ready to start writing again.Good luck!

I always go outside after a big revision. At least for a week. Try to get my head screwed on tight. Then tackle the laundry and cleaning to catch up. Then go back oustide. I don't do anything book related at all. It seems to help in the fresh air.

I usually sign up for a class. This time it's urban photography. It helps me re-channel my creative energy and gets my mind thinking in new ways.

You and my wife are the same in that it sounds like you're a long-stretch sort of worker…you have to finish the project before anything else can be started. I've never struggled with what you describe, because I'm a short-burst worker…I can go for an hour or two at a time, and then move on to something different, then come back the next day. I hate to hear about your exhaustion…nothing's worse than being on a deadline and having your noggin switch off from over-use.

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful comments! Each one has had me smiling. It's so good to know I'm not alone in this! It sounds like all of you have your specific things to do when you reach this point. I love Charity's the best … go on a cruise! Yeah, I sooooo wish I could do that. Alas. Linda, I think it will be next year before I start something new. Once I start, I just plow through until I'm finished, and I can't do that right now with everything else I have going on. Just revisions on Curse for the next four months or so, probably. Also, yes, I've read several things showing that "thinking" does burn calories. Writing a book requires a LOT of thinking, lol. Jaimie, that guy who looks like John Greene is my friend Scott G.F. Bailey. He's an excellent writer! Has a book coming out in March. :)Thanks again, everyone!

Romance Book Haven

I try TV series and movies or reading between my editing.All the best!Nas

scott g.f.bailey

Bailey? He's a hack!After I finish a big writing project, I like to pretend that I'm not a writer, that I've never written so much as a postcard in my life. I like to read purely for entertainment and be outside as much as possible.Right now I'm working on three different novels, and my head is melting from the inside out. When I finish them up I plan to take off a good six months from writing fiction. Really, I do. Really.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate

I get the same way, Michelle. I'd kind of wondered if I had an obsessive compulsive thing going on (which is why I don't write all the time). I take big breaks where I purposefully stay away from the computer and writing because I feel unhealthy when I obsess over projects (as if they consume my life).

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