Manuscript Revision: Keep Your Focus

As a writer, I’ve learned that seeking and embracing feedback can be one of the fastest ways to improve or even acquire writing skills.

The final result will be better.

I know this from experience, but the manuscript massacre can be painful. And the progress can feel SLOW. So, when I came across a journal entry from a few years ago, when I was posting my work regularly to ACFW’s Scribes online critique group, it was encouraging to see how far I’ve come.

I’ve been putting off edits for a chapter my critique partners chewed up. One liked the change of scenery but thought it wasn’t enough to help the flat characters who had no depth or appeal. Another had a lot of trouble picturing the scenery and understanding where they were in space. The third pointed out how many times my characters chuckled and nodded.

Elbows on my desk, forehead in my hands. I wanted to cry, but the tears didn’t come when I closed my eyes to pray instead frustration bubbled up. “Can I just complain to you, God? How could you call me to write when it’s obviously not my skill set? What were you thinking? I can’t do this. You can’t be pleased by me spending all this time writing if it’s not going to produce any real fruit.”

The song, I am not alone by Kari Jobe streamed on my computer. A song that had become meaningful to me during my battle with breast cancer.

“I am not alone. You will go before me. You will never leave me.”

Tears wet my lids. How could I forget 2 Corinthians 12:9?

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God shines the brightest in my weakness. His power is made perfect in weakness. “So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.”

In fact, it’s just like Him to use me to write, and He’s going to be with me every step of the way. He’s already showing me by the awesome team of writers who have committed to helping me.

And help they did, in a BIG way. You can see it in another entry a year later.

I can see it clearly when I assemble all their feedback. One helps me say it pretty and breathes out encouragement, another makes sure it’s clean and clear, while one, picks. She doesn’t let me slide something irrelevant in or be lazy. Ever. So many voices have gone into the finished product and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. And with their help, I’ve found my own voice.

What I didn’t realize then was the “finished project” wasn’t my novel—it’s me. God’s working to get me where I need to be and if you’re a Christian, He’s doing that for you, too. Not just in writing but in life.

I’m thankful to my amazing critique partners, but most of all, I’m thankful to God for accepting me as his own. After all, He never promised His path would be easy. He only promised to walk it with us.

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Next time you feel discouraged, take a step back and remember how far you’ve come. Then trust God to get you home.

15 thoughts on “Manuscript Revision: Keep Your Focus

  1. Robyn, this is such an excellent post! I’m thankful for feedback as well- it helps me grow. And others see things I don’t! My favorite line . . . “What I didn’t realize then was the “finished project” wasn’t my novel—it’s me.” How beautifully expressed! And how true!

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    1. Yes! When I finally realized all that work was developing me as a writer, I was able to relax and see beyond my manuscript baby and appreciate the writer I’ve become. And I’m so grateful for your part in my writer journey, Rachel. Thanks for all the help and encouragement over the years!

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    1. Glad you liked it, Laurie. I’m so thankful for your friendship and all the relentless hours you spent improving my skills! I suspect you always knew I was the real work-in-progress.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn! I’m so glad you’re going to share it again! I’ll post it to Facebook later, but if you want to share it now, you should be able to just click on the Facebook “f” link above. It’s right at the end of the post under the “share this” tab, in the middle. If it doesn’t work, let me know. Thanks again for all your encouragement!

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  2. What a great post – just as I’m slogging through a painful WIP revision! I’ve wondered at times too if I’m wasting my time, but time spent refining our work – and in turn being refined – is never wasted. Thanks Robyn.

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  3. I needed to see this today! Thank you, Robyn! You know I enjoy your writing and storytelling—they are definitely your skill sets, and I also love your transparency, perseverance, and meaningful themes. You and your writing help me be a better person. May God bless you and your work!

    In His love, Jeannie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  4. How true, Robin. Everything you said here. Our critique partners help us to be better writers, even when we get so depressed by what they say we feel we can’t do it anymore. We tend to focus on the negative things they point out instead of also looking at what they like. If God called us to write, He will enable us. He gives us the right people to lead and help us. But most of all, He gives us His Word to encourage us. And all of it helps us to grow into the person and writer God wants us to be. So happy to know that you won’t give up.

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